Most people in the United Kingdom are not delusional.
That, I think, is the only solid conclusion one can draw from an utterly ridiculous survey carried out on behalf of Newsweek Europe, in which women were asked whether they would “like to be Kate” even “just for one day”.
On the basis that most women replied, “Er, no thanks, I am quite happy being me,” Newsweek has somehow concluded that this marks “the end of the fairytale" for the British monarchy. They have even put a black-and-white picture of Kate Middleton looking stressed and worried on the front cover.
In the story inside, the magazine claims that the survey’s “startling results" mark a "major change" in the British public's attitude toward the monarchy.
This is utter tosh.
Outside of Shakespeare plays and the Lion King, nobody (other than a child) has ever wanted to be King or Queen – even for one day.
My grandmother’s generation always pitied the Queen, and admired her astonishing sense of duty in carrying out her appallingly boring job so uncomplainingly.
And that was long before twitter and camera phones came on the scene, and destroyed much of their ability to have Princess Margaret-style parties behind closed doors.
Free food and excellent shooting aside, what, really, could be worse than a lifetime cutting ribbons at concrete factories?
When it comes to the small matter of what, exactly, is the "major change" in our attitude to the monarchy that this fact (that people don't want to be Kate) reveals, the magazine falls mute, as nobody in the history of polling has taken the trouble to ask such an utterly idiotic question before, so there are no comparisons to be made.
For the men in the poll, Newsweek’s questions became even more absurd. They actually surveyed 1,500 men and asked them if they would like to be married to Kate or dating Kate – what the hell, why didn’t they just go ahead and ask them if they wanted to have sex with her? – to which a rather confused 12% of men said yes.
Well, many men do go through difficult patches in their relationships, I suppose, when ‘anyone but her’ seems a viable option.
Newsweek goes on to claim to be flabbergasted that only 2% of the population cited Kate’s pregnancy as “the most important news story” on the day the poll was done (which, by fluke, happened to be the same day the pregnancy was announced).
ISIS and the Scottish referendum were seen as more important.
Well, that's because they are! And 'more important' as any student of interent traffic will know, does not equate to "more likely to be read or clicked on or talked about with your mates."
The team at Newsweek must have not noticed that Prince William himself acknowledged the pregnancy was not actually important, telling the press on the day, “It’s important that we all focus on the big news and the big international and domestic things that are going on at the moment. That’s what my thoughts are at the moment.”
Although Newsweek insists that this data is ‘telling’ the magazine seems unable to actually tell us what it means.
I feel for the writer, Ed Docx, (author of the brilliant novel Self Help). As a journalist, we’ve all been there – presented with a ludicrous survey and ordered to write a big, splashy, attention-grabbing story off the back of it. You know you should walk away but the lure of the cover is just too much.
He makes a good enough fist of it, to be fair, and once he manages to ditch the ludicrous survey he has some intelligent things to say about Kate’s forthcoming role as the central matriarchal figure of the royal family.
Plus, he has a good quote from Germaine Greer who says Kate is "too thin" adding: "She is vomiting her guts up and shouldn’t have been made to go through all this again so soon.”
But the fact that women don’t want to be Kate and men don’t want to be married to her does not tell us anything at all.
And looking for a few moments at the actual survey results in full you get a very different story to the main thrust of the piece anyway.
Large numbers believe that Kate is intelligent (49%) and even larger numbers (65%) saw her as a potentially positive role model. 32% of people would like to be friends with her and a very substantial 64% think she is attractive. She’s the number two choice of role model, which is hardly a sign that the public have fallen out of love with the monarchy.
Newsweek tries to argue that its survey shows that we no longer believe in ‘the fairytale’ of William and Kate. Well, not exactly – what the survey actually shows is that adults don’t believe in fairytales full stop – even when its the magic Newsweek fairy promising to touch us with her wand and turn us in to Kate Middleton.
The more important point, which this survey bears out despite itself, is that Britain does still believe in the ability of William and Kate to one day lead the country.