My son mentioned to me that he had learned from Newsround that Garry Barlow of Take That had asked Prince Harry to sing a line in one of their songs. And that Harry had (so far) refused. This led to thoughts about royal power and privilege; especially as I later watched the excellent TV programme “She-Wolves” presented by Helen Castor, the author of a book of the same name. Only a cursory study of the Plantaganets is needed to remind us that the history of the English monarchy is bloody and turbulent. It is inconceivable these days that a royal figure (in this country) would dare to be seen favouring someone for their personal benefit. And then I arrived at the most interesting element of this: that we have developed a culture which incentivises royalty to behave in this way. Royal fairy dust cannot be seen to create personal privilege. Our royal family is truly accountable to the people.
In former times wealth, power and success was in the gift of the monarch. If you fought for the right person, and he won, and got his hands on the throne, you could benefit richly from it – perhaps an estate or a substantial parcel of land, or a magnificent property… And thus we have the stately homes that scatter this country, to our enjoyment, many of which have fallen safely into the care of the National Trust: the fruits of royal privilege, returned to the people.
And so back to the question whether Prince Harry will agree to make a musical contribution to Gary Barlow’s Diamond Jubilee song… who knows? But I suspect the answer will remain a courteous and good-humoured “No.”