Forget the Queen. This is a diamond jubilee for royal PR | Tanya Gold

The royal family is embracing the global brand ethos with alacrity (and Catherine's big hair)

So 2012 is to host the greatest celebration of the hereditary principle in modern times: the diamond jubilee. The precise anniversary of the Queen's coronation is 2 June [see footnote], so it will combine with Olympics fever in a sort of ad for British retro-patriotism and obliviousness to, or enthusiasm for, very expensive parties for the benefit of other people with more money.

Details are already available, exciting newspapers and disgusting republicans. There will be a magnificent flotilla on the Thames, much harassment (I am guessing) of protesters, and an enormous royal tour, starring the headliners (HM and spouse; William Wales and photogenic middle-class bride) and bit players (Andrew, Edward and the cousins). Out they will roll, in a Hanoverian-themed rip-off of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, "reinventing the monarchy for a new generation". The Romanovs and the Habsburgs may be dust, but the Windsors are still in the palace that looks like Selfridges.

My only joy comes from wondering how, exactly, they carved up the planet – that, and who will look after the dogs. The tour's itinerary proves, amusingly, how this most hierarchical of families has a strict hierarchy within itself. So the Queen, 86 next year, does the global HQ – the British Isles – assisted by the cadaverous Philip. Charles, senior but uninteresting, goes where the white people are – Canada, Australia, New Zealand. The hot ticket, although I do not know why, is William and Catherine Cambridge, visiting Malaysia, Singapore, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

This news kicked the highest unemployment figures for 17 years off the top of the news agenda – although to be fair, unemployment does not have the hair of Catherine Cambridge. Sometimes I think if you dissected her, you would find the cell structure of a BaByliss 2100W Elegance hairdryer in metallic purple.

If you are wondering what this will all cost, visit the royal website for details of their typical spending on "work trips". They don't travel cheap. The grant-in-aid for royal travel and air annual report, 2010–11, explains that Charles Windsor spent £298,089 on a five-day trip to Delhi and Jodhpur – and the Queen spent £356,253 on a trip to Abu Dhabi and Muscat.

But even if republicans moan that Catherine Cambridge spends thousands on her hair (I'm sorry, I just cannot get past the hair) while disabled children lose essential services, we cannot deny that the royal family, who used to get it so fabulously wrong, has finally got its PR together. This is terrible news for those who despise the hereditary principle and scream at its new robustness – in politics and the professions as well as royalty – while waving farewell to the very concept of equality.

There is a tough new shininess in the non-posh bits of Buckingham Palace, as anyone who has ever dealt with an effective corporate press office will recognise. Charles Windsor's director of communications, Paddy Harverson, used to run PR for Manchester United, so is skilled in the branding of displacement activities that still manage to rivet the planet. Processes have changed; reforms have been made. The royals, too, are heirs to Blair. You can't walk down the Mall without stepping on an heir to Blair.

The family now produce brochures detailing all their good works. Charming and competent PRs release detailed accounts – which is great until you read them, and realise the Windsors are more profligate than ever.

The big announcement this year, of course, was the news that if the eldest child of William and The Hair is a girl, she will inherit the throne. As a feminist I was confused for about three seconds, until I remembered we would still have a monarch. (Diana the First, perhaps, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Defender of the Faith – and now endorsed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.)

Royal historians of the future will no doubt wonder when our monarchy threw off bad press representation and embraced the global brand ethos. For me, the turning point was the meeting of William Cambridge and David Beckham in Los Angeles this summer. Why LA? Why not Sierra Leone or the failing cities of the north? Because LA is the first place that any aspiring starlet, from a trailer park or the Almanach de Gotha, has to go to pitch. The Beckhams blazed a trail for the Windsors in America, and how easy they seemed together. Regard the photos. Welcome to the monarchy of Coke.

• This footnote was appended on 16 December 2011. To clarify: the anniversary of the Queen's coronation in 1953 is indeed 2 June. However, the diamond jubilee celebrates her accession to the throne on 6 February 1952.


Tanya Gold

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Queen's diamond jubilee: in numbers

The four days of the jubilee bank holiday weekend has left us with copious amounts of of coverage and commentary but how does the momentous occasion break down into numbers?

Ami Sedghi

06, Jun, 2012 @4:20 PM

Article image
Diamond jubilee pageant security beefed up
Thousands of police drafted in for Thames river pageant to prevent a repeat of Boat Race disruption

Caroline Davies

17, May, 2012 @1:34 PM

Article image
Jubilee pageant: rain fails to dampen a very British occasion
Thames jubilee pageant marked with a 41-gun salute, 1,000 boats, 20,000 participants and a million onlookers

Caroline Davies, Sam Jones and Peter Walker

03, Jun, 2012 @7:57 PM

Article image
Queen Elizabeth II obituary
Monarch who through her seven decades of public service became a figure of fascination by remaining steadfastly private

Stephen Bates

08, Sep, 2022 @7:25 PM

Article image
Carlos Tevez and Prince William: drop the self-pity and do your duty | Tanya Gold
Tanya Gold: This is no time to fly your helicopter into the mist Wills and bemoan your gilded fate. If you don't like it, get off the stage

Tanya Gold

30, Sep, 2011 @9:35 PM

Article image
Prince Philip: William and Harry to walk apart as Queen sits alone at funeral
Brothers will be separated by cousin Peter Phillips as they walk behind coffin, Buckingham Palace reveals

Caroline Davies

15, Apr, 2021 @5:26 PM

Article image
Planes, trains and a redecoration – the Queen sets out accounts
Accounts show the cost of the monarchy to the public purse was £35.7m last year, an increase year-on-year of £2.4m

Caroline Davies and Terry Macalister

25, Jun, 2014 @11:01 PM

Article image
What fresh hell must Philip’s will contain to make the royal family look any worse? | Catherine Bennett
If a bid for dignity was behind the secrecy of his last testament, I’ve got news for Judge McFarlane

Catherine Bennett

20, Nov, 2021 @7:00 PM

Article image
Prince George racks up the most presents in royal gifts tally
Surfboard and toy boat among toddler’s haul while Queen received a miniature throne and Prince Harry an automatic rifle

Caroline Davies

14, Jan, 2015 @2:58 PM

Article image
Horse comb and corn doll among gifts given to royal family last year
Published list reveals an eclectic mix of items received by the Queen and others

Caroline Davies

23, Apr, 2020 @4:48 PM