British commentators yesterday heaped praise on the royal wedding, saying the fairytale occasion had provided a much-needed boost to the country in straitened times. Newspapers were delighted at the festive atmosphere among the hordes of well-wishers who had descended on London from across the globe on Friday to witness the biggest royal event for a generation.
Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding “provided a moment for the nation to come together, without partisan disagreement, without excuse for political discord,” said the Times. “At a moment when so much is hard for Britain, when national morale is low, there was sunshine and laughter and happiness that everyone could join in and share.”
The wedding came at a time when Britons face huge job losses amid the deepest public spending cuts for decades, recently unveiled by the coalition government as it seeks to reduce a record public deficit.
Britain’s biggest-selling paper, the Sun, agreed the wedding of the couple, who now have the titles Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, had given the country a lift.
“Britain showed the world yesterday that it is in good heart, capable, and open for business,” the paper said. “Our new, modern Duke and Duchess have a big part to play in our revival.”
However, while no one doubted the glittering ceremony was a -distraction from the gathering storm clouds of austerity, some saw it as an unwelcome attempt to shift the focus from more important issues.
“Back in the real world, below this thin layer of pomp, there is a social dislocation whose cracks are starting to emerge,” the left-wing, anti-monarchist Guardian newspaper said. “Most household incomes are shrinking — as never since the 1920s. Hundreds of thousands of jobs are being cut, services slashed.”
Despite such occasional notes of cynicism, most commentators believed the wedding had served to boost the standing of the royal family with its subjects after the traumas of the past generation. The royals are still struggling to put a string of public controversies and marriage breakdowns — including that of William’s parents, Prince Charles and the late princess Diana — behind them.
“The British people are optimistic, hopeful enough about the monarchy to rejoice in a new generation that will be its heirs,” the right-wing Telegraph said.
The Times added: “The wedding powerfully demonstrated the value of the monarchy.”
Acres of newsprint were dedicated to the subject of Kate’s dress, designed by Sarah Burton of fashion house Alexander McQueen, with most commentators giving the British design a big thumbs-up.
However, some of the other attire worn by wedding guests attracted negative comments, with Princess Beatrice’s choice of headgear — a large, light pink loop with two ribbons sprouting from either side — widely criticized.
“Is that an octopus on her head, or a pair of antlers?” the Daily Mail said of the outlandish garment worn by William’s cousin.
Amid widespread praise for the day, the royal-loving Telegraph led the way, describing the marriage of the second in line to the throne to his “commoner” bride as “the best of British.”
“Stunning British fashion at [Westminster] Abbey, stirring British music, stoical British people under uncertain, hazy British sun. Who could not at some moment shed a tear?” it said.
The Guardian, however, saw more prosaic reasons for the interest in the wedding.