The Royal family have made the headlines this week for two very different reasons. Firstly, Prince William and his family were accused of going on a ‘top secret’ skiing holiday when pictures of them in a luxury Alpine resort were only released after they returned home. Then, days later, The Sun Newspaper claimed that the Queen supported the proposal for Britain to leave the EU, running the headline “Queen Backs Brexit”, which led to Buckingham Palace quickly insisting that the Queen is "politically neutral" over the impending referendum. That the first instance of Royal activity has sparked as much attention as the other, begs the question: why would we rather see the Royal family’s holiday photos than hear their political opinions?
The Royal family have been a huge attraction in recent years. The grandeur of the Royal Wedding was followed by the magnitude of the Queen’s jubilee, and then the iconic moment of Prince George’s birth. Such were the occasions that mass media attention was both inevitable and understandable. But on this instance, the Cambridge’s enjoying a long weekend at a ski resort, the fascination is somewhat debatable. Getting a kick out of seeing the birth of a future king is understandable, but insisting upon seeing his first experience of snow is not. Are six photos of this particular milestone not more than enough to meet the requirements of a following that can only be described as fandom?
Apparently not. Between them the Royal family attend over 2,000 official, often tedious events a year, but a glimpse into their private lives is seen as that bit more which they owe us in exchange for the lavish lifestyle, the palaces and private jets, which royalty affords. Therefore the media has always previously played a major role in their traditional skiing holidays, and the pictures released this time round have been dismissed by some as ‘carefully chosen’ and ‘posed’, suggesting a resentment at the family’s attempts at privacy. Compared to the lavish lifestyle they continue to lead, six photographs, taken by a personal photographer, is not seen as a fair trade. However, when it comes to demanding ‘that bit more’ from the Royal Family, are holiday photos really the best thing to ask for?
No matter what we think of her, or the institution itself, it can’t be argued that the Queen is in a unique position of unrivalled experience. Surely her opinions are worth sharing?
Political involvement from the royal family is often frowned upon, likened perhaps to the family mother insisting on butting in and having the final say. As such the Queen rarely offers her opinions. When she spoke in passing about the Scottish referendum, saying "I hope people will think very carefully about the future", she was considered to be showing staunch support of Scotland remaining in the UK. That she felt this way was later supported by David Cameron, who claimed she ‘purred’ at the news that Scotland had indeed voted ‘No’. Yet her feelings were never officially made public. Considering the Queen has had weekly meetings with every Prime minister under her reign, and met every world leader in that time, why wasn't it? No matter what we think of her, or the institution itself, it can’t be argued that she is in a unique position of unrivalled experience. Surely her opinion was worth sharing.
Now, however, things are no different. Amidst reports that she vented anger at the strongly pro-EU Nick Clegg, the official response from Buckingham Palace is one of denial. They insist The Queen is neutral in this political issue, just as she has been neutral in all issues during her 63 year reign. Nick Clegg has even tweeted to say that the supposed conversation never happened.
It would be no surprise it the story was indeed false. As with all stories from The Sun, we should take it with a pinch of salt, if we take it at all. But even if the newspapers story isn't true, the political editor of The Sun has raised a true issue in his defence of it. He questioned: "If she (the Queen) has a view on Brexit, don't voters have a right to know what it is?" Many people would suggest that they do. At the very least, a political view from the Royal family, whether the people agree with it or not, would be much more interesting than a picture of them in the snow.