The apparent emphasis was on spectacle, but if you notice the Royals who were put on display, it wasn't the full crowd by any means
This elongated Diamond Jubilee weekend was as much about what you didn't see as what you did. The apparent emphasis was on spectacle: a thousand boat, beating oars down the Thames; dozens of septuagenarian popstars (including Grace Jones, who won the evening); and even a flotilla of hats at St Paul's yesterday.
But if you notice the Royals who were put on display, it wasn't the full crowd by any means: The Queen (less Prince Philip), the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry were the only ones on the balcony yesterday. Princes Andrew and Edward, Princess Anne, most of the rest of Prince William's generation and assorted associates were all there, but none highlighted. What we had was a stripped-down Royal family, which is a clever idea for several reasons.
First, it plays to those figures who are liked. After fifteen years ago seeming like she would be a pariah for the rest of her days, Camilla has become popular, perhaps for her cheer and lack of pretension. William and Kate still enjoy the high esteem their wedding brought, with its fresh and youthful connotations. And despite Harry's occasionally unfortunate choice of costume, he has seemed sober and dedicated of late.
Second, it offers a tight narrative about the Royal future: here is a clear path of succession, unified, responsible.
Finally, it cuts out those who feel extraneous and infuriating. As amusing as Beatrice and Eugenie's hats are, these other figures remind us of the excesses and expense of the Royal family. Of course, we still pay for them, but if they're out of sight, we tend to forget quite how much we consider them pointless freeloaders, a sprawl of unappealing spares and 'minors' who can induce republicanism in even the most fervent flag-waver. The true triumph of this strategy is its subtlety: while we were distracted by the colour and noise, the Royal family gave itself a most useful makeover in plain sight.
That Grace Jones clip for you: