November 16, 2013
Did British PM Really Preach From Golden Throne?
Hating the rich, a pastime of poor people since… well, forever. This week, some in the media called out British Prime Minister David Cameron for giving a speech about austerity while supposedly “preaching from a golden throne.”
Business Insider ran a story with the title, “Here’s David Cameron Calling For Permanent Austerity In Front Of All Kinds of Ridiculous Gold Things.” This particular story pointed out that the photo contained “tuxes with white ties,” “a huge gold throne,” “a gold speech stand,” “several expensive looking glasses and chalices filled with wine,” and most notably, “a huge necklace on the lady sitting on the throne.”
The point of this and other reporting is to suggest that the very wealthy are somehow completely out of touch with the common man. Actually, I say the media reporting on this story is the one that is out of touch.
The Guardian newspaper actually held a photo caption contest! That seems rather in poor taste.
First, let’s clarify a few points. This was the Lord Mayor’s Banquet in the City of London, a rather posh affair indeed, but it is meant to be as such. This is an event that is special to the office, and let’s not forget the title is the “Lord Mayor of London,” a position that is meant to have some pomp and circumstance to it.
Attendees included the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, as well as the ambassadors of China, Korea, Greece and Turkey. It should be noted that the two former countries have frosty relations while the latter two openly dislike one another, so perhaps this event was meant to smooth relations as much as celebrate the event.
As for that “lady sitting on the throne” that would be Catherine Fiona Woolf, the 686th Lord Mayor of London! This event wasn’t just an annual party; it was her accession to the position. It is also notable that she is only the second woman to have held this post in its 800-year history! It isn’t every day that Ms. Woolf will sit on a gold-colored (not actually made of gold) throne. But for one, this reporter feels she certainly earned it.
The necklace is also the symbol of the office for the record, not a mere necklace. As for the glasses and chalices, well should they have run down to the local Tesco (the popular U.K. grocery chain) for plastic cups?
Now for the record I wasn’t there, but one who was there posted a story for The Guardian newspaper and called it “particularly chilling.” Ruth Hardy, who was working as a waitress at the event, described it as “like a scene from Downton Abbey.”
Ms. Hardy, who is an intern and works part time at an events company, found it necessary to complain. As someone who remembers working an internship in the past I can understand her feelings, but the truth is that many people work long hard jobs. Hardy at least noted, “I do get to work at interesting events… and the fanciness of the Guildhall banquet was breathtaking.”
But what Hardy found upsetting was the call by Mr. Cameron for a “leaner, more efficient, more affordable state.” I for one don’t see that why this was a problem. Yes, perhaps there is some irony that he said he while making the speech from the alleged “gold speech stand” (it looks like brass to me), but let’s not forget the U.K. is a land of pomp and circumstance.
People go to London to see the changing of the guard and to marvel at royal palaces. Take that away and you have just another large European city, one with not so great weather at that. While it might be fair to say that the royals are a bit out of touch, the truth is that the Conservative government in power in the U.K. is trying to make for a leaner U.K.
Of course, in America the only royalty are overpaid actors who show up in black tie at the Academy Awards and leave with gift bags filled with expensive items. And yet no one complains when they make speeches about helping the poor.
Image Credit: Thinkstock