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Sunday, February 13, 2005


Tetbury 1, Pyongyang 0

The announcement of the forthcoming royal wedding has demonstrated that nothing, not even a possible nuclear war, can keep the royals off the front pages.

The royal engagement has divided the media and individual commentators into two camps; those who devote pages to this topic because they believe it has real significance, and those who devote pages to this topic because they claim it has none. I disagree with the former camp but at least it has the merit of consistency.

Frankly, I couldn't give a toss about this wedding. But it does raise two more important issues.

First, the timing of the wedding (on 8th April) rules out the possibility of an early general election and makes it virtually certain that polling day will be on 5th May.

Second, the royal announcement obscured what is potentially the most significant piece of news this year. BBC1's News at Ten O'Clock on Thursday evening devoted the first 20 minutes of its 30-minute broadcast to news of the engagement. A very poor second billing was given to the news of North Korea's
announcement that it has nuclear weapons.

I assumed this was an ill-judged populist move by the BBC and that some sense of proportion would be restored by the weekend, if only in the more left-wing press. But no. Both the Guardian and
Observer have given far more prominence to the wedding than to the news from Pyongyang.

The one daily to hit the right note was the most downmarket tabloid of them all, the Daily Star. Its headline? "Boring old gits to wed".

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