Not all royals are snobs, and not all snobs are royal
My colleague Henry Chu's entertaining story about the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton contained a couple of revealing references to the bride-to-be's family. Chu noted that when the couple broke up temporarily, "some courtiers [were] sniffing that Middleton and her family had probably proved too gauche for the royal household." And he mentioned that Middleton's mother, Carole, a former flight attendant (!), is regarded as a social climber who, to add insult to insignificance, was caught on camera chewing gum.
It's tempting to view this snobbery as a function of Britain's retention of the monarchy. But members of the royal family -- and their kissing cousins, the aristocracy -- aren't necessarily refined or erudite, though royals are better educated than they used to be. And not every British snob has a title.
If there were no more kings, queens, princes and dukes (a major loss for Britain's tourist industry), the overanalyzed British class system would survive. A gum-chewing mother-in-law would be as much an embarrassment to a public-school-educated city of London banker as she would be to a future monarch.
In other words, even if there was no king of England, there would be plenty of "commoners."
-- Michael McGough
Photo: The front pages of British national newspapers feature news of the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton on November 17, 2010 in London, England. PPrince William and Kate Middleton, who have been in a relationship for the past 8 years, will marry in the spring or summer of 2011. Credit: Oli Scarff/Getty Images