Friday, August 26, 2011

Royals, Dolls and Mothers


“We must not let daylight in upon the magic.

-        Walter Bagehot,
commenting upon the monarchy.

Walter Bagehot (the last name being pronounced “badge it”) (1826-1877) was a British political analyst, economist, editor and one of the most influential journalists of the mid-Victorian period.  Bagehot’s 1867 work The English Constitution is still regarded as an indispensable account of the workings of the English government.  It was Bagehot’s view, expressed in the above quotation, that the English monarchy should preserve its charm, mystery and authority to remain effective.  Like a magician’s trick that has been revealed, a monarchy that lacks those elements or becomes too ordinary ceases to have any effect or to impress.  The antics of the younger Royals, from Charles down, plus the efforts of the Duke of Edinburgh, have been a major letting in of daylight, despite the best efforts of Elizabeth 2 to maintain the dignity and authority of the Crown.

Which leads me to another item.

Just when you thought you had had enough of the Royal Wedding, comes Stage 2: the memorabilia.  Souvenir cups, plates and tea towels are commonplace; there are even toilet seats and toilet paper:

It is the dolls and figurines that are of greater interest.

The world’s largest toyshop is Hamleys in Regent Street, London, covering seven floors of a big building.  Other Hamleys outlets are in Dublin, Dubai, Amman, Glasgow, Mumbai and Chennai.  The store is a tourist attraction in its own right and it is named after William Hamley, who opened a toy store in London in 1760.  You gather then that we are talking serious and stately here, not the toy department in K Mart.

This week Hamleys unveiled its Prince William and Lady Catherine Wedding Dolls that had been 4 months in preparation. 

Before we go further, let’s again address another issue that has been the subject of previous comment in Bytes.  Because Kate Middleton is not of royal blood, however blue it might be, she cannot use the title Princess as part of her name.  That usage is reserved for Princesses Royal, such as Princess Anne.  Kate is able to adopt the title Princess by using hubby’s name, hence her full and correct title is Her Royal Highness Princess William Arthur Philip Louis, Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn, Baroness Carrickfergus.  Let’s just call her Kate, as everyone in the world seems to do, despite her wish to be Catherine.  It’s also the name of my wife.

A disgression from the disgression:

The term blueblood to denote royalty and aristocracy originated with the Spaniards.  First recorded with that meaning in 1834, it dates from ancient and medieval societies in that the upper classes had lighter skin which showed blue veins more clearly.  This was because the older and prouder families had not intermarried with Moors, Jews or other races, and because the upper classes did not work in the fields where tanned skin showed superficial veins less prominently.  It has also been suggested that from the 9th century, when the Spanish nobility came to take shape, noblemen demonstrated their pedigree by holding up their sword arms to display the network of blue-blooded veins beneath their pale skins, proof that their birth had not been contaminated by their dark-skinned enemies.

Back to Kate and Will. . .

Hamleys are offering the Kate and Will dolls at £100 for the two and is targeting the dolls at the 14 year old age group.  They have been painstakingly put together with recreations of the outfits worn, hairstyles etc.

Just one problem. . .

They look like Thunderbirds characters. 

See what you think:

Here is the original for comparison:

And still another disgression.  The above photograph was used for the cover of a recent Grazia magazine but with a modfication – the mag removed Will so that only Kate was shown.  In so doing, the mag repeated her left arm on the right so as to cover Will’s departure, but they drew down a storm of protest about body image when they also reduced her waist:

Grazia pleaded a lack of mens rea and said it was an accidental part of the photoshopped arm, pointing out that the alterations were readily apparent  Did people also believe that Kate had left Westminster Abbey with a giant Union Jack behind her?

So you’ve decided not to buy the somewhat strange Wills and Kate dolls.  Then how about some others?  . . .
A set of Pez dispensers as Wills and Kate:

I am unaware if the candy is supplied.
How about a Princess Catherine Engagement Doll, also from Hamleys. . .
And finally, from the purveyor of John Wayne knives, Peter Brock plates and Elvis watches, comes some more dolls.  Yep, it’s from Franklin Mint:
Kate engaged:
Kate wedded:
Does anyone think that Wills giving Kate the engagement ring of his divorced, deceased mother was a bit creepy and perhaps a bit insensitive to the feelings of his gf who may well have preferred her own ring?  And also that they are living in Daina’s castle?
Well, Wills will be able to take it a step further and have a tableaux of dolls of Kate, himself and his mum:
“There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”
-        Lady Diana, BBC Panorama interview 1995

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