Channel 4 News speaks to cultural commentators, friends of the Royals and ardent republicans about their plans for the big day and the meaning of the pomp and party plates in modern Britain.
Artist Alison Jackson, social commentator Peter York, friend of Kate Middleton Jessica Hay, Adrian Mole author Sue Townsend, DeBrett’s editor Charles Kidd, equality campaigner Peter Tatchell and NBC correspondent Neil Sean in conversation with Channel 4 News.
Not afraid to poke fun at the happy couple, Alison Jackson released a series of spoof Royal Wedding photographs called Up the Aisle. She has a pop-up shop with the same name open in Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge, until just after the wedding. Despite her tongue-in-cheek approach to the big day, she told Channel 4 News she’s happily royalist.
She explained: “I am very pro-Royal family. I don’t think I’ve done anything unpleasant or nasty, my work is not an attack, it’s really a comment about us and our times and how the Royal family has to change to remain part of society. I think we’re so voyeuristic, living life thorough television, magazines and the internet; removed from people we watch but we think we know them intimately, it’s extraordinary.
“The royal wedding buzz is just starting to get big, you get a sense of the tension, of everyone waiting to see Kate; we’re dying to see the dress and the kiss of course.
“I think I’ll head to Buckingham Palace because it’s just going to be so great to see the crowds and activity there, Westminster Abbey will be amazing. I do want to go out and see the buzz and see reactions of the crowds, but I would like to end up taking photographs of the wedding on my TV screen from my armchair. I like the idea of recording the proceedings as my TV set shows them to me.
I think the Royal family is great to look at and they certainly know how to put on a show. Alison Jackson
“The Royal Wedding marks a new start for William’s life after the death of Diana. I think the Royal family is great to look at and they certainly know how to put on a show.
“We live in a world of imagery and they’re fantastic at projecting an image. The royal family sets Britain apart.”
Icon of social and cultural commentary Peter York writes for The Independent on Sunday and GQ. He has published a number of books including The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook. He told Channel 4 News he will be “spending the entire day on the media compound at Canada Gate”.
“To me, the media scrum that has gathered for the Royal Wedding is absolutely absurd but insanely fascinating.
“It’s been conjured out of nowhere, suddenly they’re cleaning the sand up on The Mall and there are a lot of semi-military police on the scene. These media organisations have brought an enormous amount of hardware. It’s sort of like a war, there is a sudden flurry of high-tech activity and it must be like what being a Libyan citizen seeing the media arrive to report the war feels like.
The media scrum that has gathered for the Royal Wedding is absolutely absurd but insanely fascinating. Peter York
“With all the reporting and Royal Wedding activity, we see curious expressions of British state and also of celebrity culture and soap opera.
“We’re undisputed world leaders in mounting a certain kind of royal event and telling people about it.
“People who’ve been loudly telegraphing their sophisticated underwhelmed response, people who’ve said they’d rather be in Uzbekistan on the day, will actually turn on the telly.”
(Prince Harry with Kanye West and P Diddy. Picture: Reuters)
Jessica Hay is an old school friend of Kate Middleton, who grew up playing sports with her. She has also known William and Harry for a long time and is looking forward to attendingthe biggest wedding ever.
Speaking to Channel 4 News she said: “I will not be attending the ceremony but I will be attending the reception that Harry is throwing, which is likely to be a right old royal knees up.
I’d rather go to the reception because you know what Harry’s like, a bit of a bad boy, and also Chelsy Davy is fantastic to hang out with… Jessica Hay
“My invite came in the post a week and a half ago. I’d rather go to the reception because you know what Harry’s like, a bit of a bad boy, and also Chelsy Davy is fantastic to hang out with and she’ll be there in a lovely tight dress looking blonde and beautiful.
“You can imagine what Catherine’s going through, she has had to alienate most of her friends apart from her sister and brother and parents. She is going into a dynasty and an institution so she has to give up the normal life of going to pubs and restaurants. I’m worried about her weight but she is absolutely beautiful, a stunning girl.”
Author Sue Townsend has written a special Royal Wedding instalment of Adrian Mole’s diaries for The Observer. The legendary character is now 39-and-a-quarter. But what will his creator will be doing on the big day?
She told Channel 4 News: “I’ve got a horrible deadline, but the telly will be on with the sound off. Whenever I look up I’ll look at the screen and see the wedding.There are no holidays when you’re a writer.
“Obviously a wedding is a big occasion for anybody, and it would be churlish not to wish them well, but honestly we need to grow up and become a republic like America and France and many other countries. We used to have kings and queens as absolute rulers, but the role of the royal family has changed from this.
It’s a complete myth that tourists come to see the Queen; the Royal family is way behind in popularity to places like Alton Towers. Sue Townsend
“I honestly think that the money spent on the Royal Wedding is not well spent at all. It’s a complete myth that tourists come to see the Queen; the Royal family is way behind in popularity to places like Alton Towers.
“We should have an elected head of state – I’ve no idea who…. Hopefully they’ll have a bit of charisma and a racy love life too. Characters like these are needed in societies, we need a top man.”
Charles Kidd is the editor of Debrett’s Peerage and Baronetage, the guide to the British aristocracy that has been publishing since 1769. There are rumours that Prince William will become the Duke of Sussex upon marrying Kate, and, as an expert in such things, Kidd will be on hand to offer insight.
He told Channel 4 News: “I’m going to be moving around quite a bit. I’ll be talking about whether William is offered a dukedom.
“I think the wedding will be a great celebration. The impact of the Royal Wedding is dictated by the space given to it by the media. I think that the media fires up people and it puts some people off, to the extent that people are fatigued…. I think the day itself will be a tremendous day to be a part of; a really splendid occasion.”
Equality campaigner Peter Tatchell has already delivered a giant wedding card to Buckingham Palace for William and Kate, urging them to use the clout they have as royals to support same-sex marriages.
He said: “I won’t be celebrating the Royal Wedding. I will spend 29 April partying with Republic, the campaign for an elected head of state.
“They are holding ‘Not the Royal Wedding Street Party’ in Red Lion Square, London. Then I’m off to the Royal Vauxhall Tavern at 3pm, for the start of their spectacular party: ‘A Right Royal Affair’. The proceeds from this event will go to the Equal Love campaign, which is working to end the ban on same-sex civil marriage. Given the Royal Wedding, this fundraiser is very relevant. Kate and William had the option to get married. Gay couples don’t have this option, they are banned by law.
“On democratic grounds, I support an elected head of state. This is an issue of democracy and human rights. The monarchical system is anti-Catholic, sexist and, by default, racist. Catholics are barred. For the foreseeable future, no black or Asian person can be our head of state. First-born girls are passed over in favour of younger male children. These discriminations are out of step with the values of modern, liberal Britain.”
Access Hollywood reporter Neil Sean is covering Kate and William’s wedding for US network NBC. He has worked closely with the Royals for year.
He told Channel 4 News: “I will be covering the wedding for NBC and Access Hollywood.My day starts at 6am and I’ll finish at 2am the following day. They wanted a lighter note so they picked me, and I’ll be reporting things like what Prince Harry will be doing and what goes on behind closed doors
“The media is all wrong when they talk about what William and Kate and the Royal family are like, they’re totally different to that. William is really switched on to real life; we’ve talked about which razor blades we use when we shave and other normal things.
I really got on with William, and Kate’s far more beautiful in the flesh. Neil Sean
“I really got on with William, and Kate’s far more beautiful in the flesh. There is a presence about her; she has a beguiling innocence, a Marilyn Monroe-esque quality. I can’t imagine her being mean to anyone.
“With Kate we were talked about shampoos. I thought she would be used to travelling on the bus and tube and I wonder if she would miss that, because you can’t do that anymore when you‘re a royal.
“It must be strange. When you’re a celebrity it’s different because you are hot for a period and then out of the public eye, but with the royal family the focus is permanent and the heat never goes off.”