TONY DIVER: Princess Kate and the Magna Carta

Columnist Tony Diver ANL-140328-091912001
Columnist Tony Diver ANL-140328-091912001

If you read a daily newspaper, watch television, use the internet or go outside, you will have seen pictures of Will and Kate.

Watched with the diligence of a hawk with a love for the union flag, the heir and his princess are the darlings of the press, and are reported on with somewhat alarming regularity. But living in an age where the Royals are simply state-funded poster-people, it’s sometimes easy to forget what they once were.

The Magna Carta, available to view for a limited time at St Edmundsbury Cathedral, is one of the most important pieces of paper in the history of England. Signed in 1215, it signalled the end of the people’s exploitation and the start of power’s long journey down the Mall, away from the monarch and towards Westminster.

And while the history of the British Constitution is not the most fascinating of subjects, with local and MEP elections approaching on May 22, there is a clear link between your pen on the voting slip at the polling station and King John signing the Magna Carta, 800 years ago.

That’s what makes history fascinating: we will never know or speak to the people in the past. When we say ‘we’ won the Battle of Trafalgar’, for example, it was really people before us, under the same flag.

But when we see something which has affected us directly, but has happened in a time we are so disconnected from, we can feel an allegiance to the people involved. We can hold next to the Magna Carta a copy of today’s Express with paparazzi pictures of Kate and see the development of the same idea.

Getting bogged down in the trivialities of royalty and party political squabbling is easy, we must remember to stop and feel lucky that we have them as they are.