Whatsapp I suppose there must be someone left in Britain who is surprised or shocked that a minor member of the royal family has alleged homosexual tendencies and is partial to the odd snort of cocaine. Frankly, I suspect most British people would shrug their shoulders with resignation and boredom even if it were reported that a fairly important royal had been photographed mainlining anthrax spores while fellating a pine marten.
The newspapers, denied the right to inform their readers of the identity of the blackmail victim, instead directed them to a whole bunch of websites which had blithely ignored the injunction. I bet very few people took up the invitation.
I did, mind, on your behalf. So, I thought, those are the sort of people who think minor royal misdemeanours are interesting. In fact, the sites which chose to print the name of the royal were either anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist blogs, or bottom-of-the-barrel trash-celeb sites, or supposedly respectable Australian newspapers. In each case a certain agenda was at work.
After that, the royal gay sex blackmail stuff was booted well and truly inside, even when the papers had got photographs of the men accused of doing the blackmailing. Ian Strachan, the floppy-haired, pudding-faced royal hanger-on accused of jointly instigating the blackmail, has clearly set his cap at the wrong sort of royalty — the old royalty, which nobody very much cares about any more. That would have been page one for several days. And remember, blackmailers have a tendency to overestimate the magnitude of their hold over their chosen victims.
And it was evident too in the speed with which the story migrated to the inside pages of our newspapers and in the comparatively candid response from both the police and the royal family. Partly this is a result of our acceptance of both homosexuality and class A drugs. Similarly, we are no longer terribly disquieted by illegal drugs. We are no longer allowed to feel comfortable imbibing our legal drugs of choice and so the notion of transgression implied in the consumption of illegal drugs such as cocaine is substantially diminished.
I have always assumed, without the tiniest shred of evidence, that all younger members of the royal family are possessed of noses which may very well soon fall off through prodigious consumption of cocaine. The horrible nightclubs they frequent have, in some cases, been forced to remove the lids to their lavatories in order to stop customers hoovering up vast mounds of coke from on top of them.
I have to say, as a commitment to preventing drug abuse, this strikes me as rather less rigorous than the approach adopted in, say, Singapore or Kuala Lumpur. But then I suppose a gibbet in the middle of the dance floor would be bad for business. But in any case at least one minor royal, Freddie Windsor, has admitted to having used cocaine in the past. Youthful indiscretion, mere experimentation, student days, bad influence of peer group, etc.
Yeah, as they say, right. But more to the point, the thing which has changed even more dramatically is our relationship with the royal family.
Might I suggest that some of the mystique, the natural deference, the regard has, well, evaporated? Reported, I ought to add, with enormous glee and jubilation.
To be sure, the Diana business — all of it, from those staged, crassly manipulative photographs of her looking distraught in front of the Taj Mahal, to the affair with the unpalatable Dodi Fayed and the terrible denouement — diminished the royal family in the eyes of the public and sucked from the institution vast reservoirs of respect.
But Charles more than held his own for the republican cause. What on earth will they get up to next, we wondered to ourselves, when the tampon stuff hit the papers? At the behest of a new breed of spin doctors and a sharp new government, the royal family attempted to be more accessible to their subjects while simultaneously continuing with the pretence that they were in some way exalted human beings. Tell us something new.