Friday, September 21, 2012

Why my sympathy for Kate over the topless photos is limited

I suppose I can see as a matter of principle that it's objectionable to furtively photograph a woman with a telephoto lens while she is sunbathing topless on secluded private property, and then to publish those photos.  But somehow I'm totally unmoved by the revelation that Prince William is "incandescent with rage" on his wife's behalf.  Nor am I inclined to fall dutifully into line with Nicholas Witchell's demand for us to see the Royal couple as uniquely put-upon victims who are showing extraordinary dignity in impossible circumstances.  And I'm not sure my reaction is entirely irrational.

The Royal Family claims to be (and is claimed by others to be) "above politics", but in truth it's a thoroughly political institution.  As Gerry Hassan recently reminded us, their position at the apex of the constitution even affords them power to veto or influence legislation in secret.  The frighteningly effective propaganda operation to justify the continuation of such unjustifiable privilege is not in place for us, or for the British tourist industry as we're sometimes risibly told - it's entirely there for them, and for other members of the establishment who benefit from the constitutional status quo.  The choice of Kate for William's spouse was part of that propaganda operation, and was thus a political act.  Yes, I'm sure it was a love match, but it was a highly convenient one, and if William had chosen "unwisely" we can safely assume he would have been quietly asked to think again, just as his father was more than three decades ago.  The projection of Kate's beauty and charm is entirely political, and when it goes awry as it did in France it's a political mishap.  We don't generally feel particularly sorry for politicians who suffer mishaps in their propaganda operations, so why should we react any differently in this case?  The royals scarcely need any sympathy from the likes of us, anyway - they're already guaranteed the type of unquestioning sympathy from even "neutral" segments of the media that would make any self-respecting politician blush. Instead of sceptically scrutinising the exercise of political power on the part of the royals, the media are happy to uphold the embroidered fantasy of Kate as a storybook princess, a uniquely special and virtuous person, above the rest of us, whom the normal rules do not apply to, and who is therefore degraded by being seen minus a few of her clothes in a way that would only otherwise apply to the Pope's wife.

By the way, it's political on Kate's own part as well - she chose this life for herself in order to accrue power, which can be reasonably characterised as political power.  I can hear the romantics out there saying "she can't help who she fell in love with", but that doesn't wash.  Her fateful choice was not to marry William, it was to accept the role of future queen.  If the right to live in peace and quiet with the person you love is all that matters to Kate and William, they had the option of marrying, renouncing all claim to the crown and living as private citizens.  And if unauthorised topless photos of Kate had been published in that scenario, she'd have deserved all the sympathy and legal protection she got (even though it was more than any other female celebrity could have expected in identical circumstances).  As it is...not so much.


  1. Didn't she snare Wills by walking down a catwalk in a see-through dress? Not hideously embarrassed then was she?

  2. I usually agree with your opinions but believe that on this occasion you are seriously mistaken.

    I'm getting the impression that you believe the media hype surrounding "Wills and Kate" more than I do and that this puts you on the side of the smarmy little shit who invaded their privacy to take the pictures in the hope of cash profit.

    Katherine is a woman who has chosen to marry someone who is in line for the throne. OK, but your comments about it being "political", a royal "choice" and Rolfe's about "snaring" him are just rubbish. Doesn't every individual, no matter what their job or so-called status have the right to be left to behave in private as they wish without our salacious intervention.

    Witchell, for once, is correct. They are put-upon because they are "royal". And why shouldn't William be upset? I'd be incandescent with rage if someone published pictures of my wife's tits.

    Be careful about the line you are going down. It could be Johann Lamont next!

  3. "I'm getting the impression that you believe the media hype surrounding "Wills and Kate" more than I do"

    Why would you get that impression? My own impression is that it's those who have fallen for the media hype of Kate as a fairytale princess who are most likely to think she warrants the kind of special sympathy and protection which, as I pointed out, no other female celebrity can expect in identical circumstances. I can't quite see Nick Witchell getting on his high horse like this if it had been a soap star, can you?

    "Katherine is a woman who has chosen to marry someone who is in line for the throne."

    Quite. The fact that he is in line for the throne cannot be seen as somehow 'incidental' to her choice, because William did not renounce his right to the crown upon marrying.

    "your comments about it being "political", a royal "choice" and Rolfe's about "snaring" him are just rubbish"

    Again, in what way? Everything about the public promotion of their marriage, and the promotion of Kate herself as a kind of fairytale-princess-cum-supermodel, has been about buttressing the royals' popularity, and thus entrenching their power - which as Gerry Hassan pointed out is hard, literal, political power on an unelected basis.

    "Be careful about the line you are going down. It could be Johann Lamont next!"

    Johann Lamont has many faults, but projecting herself as a supermodel in order to accrue political power is not one of them.