A Royal Snub?

by Nancy French

Are you feeling bad that your gold-embossed invitation to Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding must’ve gotten lost in the mail? You’re in good company. The guest list for this week’s royal wedding has been published and even our president and first lady weren’t on it.

Is this some sort of diplomatic snub? Not necessarily. When Charles married Diana, he was the heir to the British throne, making the wedding an official “state occasion.” That meant they had to observe strict protocols of inviting people who represented Great Britain’s closest and most strategic allies.

However, Prince William is not yet heir to the throne (he’s second in the line of succession, after his father). That means the wedding is more of a “family and friends” affair and is said to include representatives from the 21 charities closest to the prince’s heart.

However, the selected guest list has raised eyebrows all over England. (That’s apparently what British people do when furious.) Fifty of the British royal family will attend, as well as over forty foreign royals — including the queen of Spain, the grand duke of Luxembourg, several Middle Eastern princes and emirs, and the king and queen of Norway. Bahrain’s Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa was invited, but declined because he didn’t want his nation’s unrest to bring controversy to the occasion. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were not invited, though former prime ministers John Major and Margaret Thatcher were (Major RSVP’d that he’d be there, Thatcher sent regrets due to poor health).

Other than some unsavory dictators, plenty of interesting non-political people were on the guest list:

— Mr. Guy Ritchie, Madonna’s former husband, who’s a close friend of the bride and groom.

— Mr. and Mrs. David Beckham, with whom Prince William worked to bring the World Cup to England.

— Mr. Elton John, who famously adapted “Candle in the Wind” after Diana’s death.

— Mr. Rowan Atkinson — yes, “Mr. Bean”

So does that mean there just wasn’t enough space on the guest list for our president? The White House has said for months that the Obamas would not attend the wedding and a Palace spokesperson reiterated that this was not a “state occasion.”

Rush Limbaugh believes the Queen didn’t appreciate the lame iPod the president gave her, or maybe the royal family was offended after President Obama booted the bronze bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office. But does that necessarily mean this is a royal snub?

Not definitely, but it is a break from tradition. President and Mrs. Reagan were invited to Charles and Diana’s ceremony in 1981, which definitely was a state occasion, but the president was ill after an assassination attempt. Five years later, the Reagans were invited to Prince Andrew’s wedding to Sarah Ferguson, even though it was not a “state occasion.”

“No, no I’m not going to go,” Mrs. Obama said on Live With Regis and Kelly when asked if she was making the trip to London. Then she added. “I wasn’t invited. Marriage is a personal private thing, they should invite who they want to invite … And if I get invited, I’ll go.”

The Palace must not have been watching Regis that morning, because no one picked up on the hint.

Nancy French is author of the upcoming Home and Away: A Story of Family in a Time of War and can be followed on Facebook here.

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