Royal wedding reveals the same old class prejudices

Britons find the idea people of moving beyond one's social class both desirable and at the same time

Whilst the candor and the maturity of those two young people describing their intention to spend the rest of their lives together was surprisingly moving, the British media's wall-to-wall fawning coverage of the royal engagement exposed the fact that the United Kingdom remains a deeply class-ridden and sexist society.

If news reports are to be believed, Kate Middleton has not only fulfilled every girl's dream of marrying a prince - albeit one with thinning hair and fading looks - but by bagging the 'ultimate prize' she has also set the bench-mark in social climbing. The press obsess about the fact that Middleton is marrying above her station. Her parents are "in trade" running a mail-order company and were once both airline stewards. Indeed, Kate is the first "commoner" to marry into British royalty in 350 years but instead of being cause for celebration, this fact has been met with sneering snobbery from all sides.

William and Kate's relationship is commonly described as a Cinderella story and like the original fairytale this modern romance is also rife with negative gender stereotyping and ugly class prejudice. Despite the veneer of Disneyfication, this royal fairytale and our reactions to it expose many of the worst aspects of British society. Unlike America where climbing the social ladder is celebrated, Britons find the idea people of moving beyond one's social class both desirable and at the same time repellant. Britons aspire to upward mobility but despise themselves and are despised for it.

Whilst I genuinely hope William and Kate share many long and happy years together I find it hard to buy into the fairytale. Although her prince may have come and Kate Middleton may relocate to a palace, she has not been handed the key to happiness. Her parents may bristle with pride at their daughter's 'advantageous marriage' but after the ball is over the new princess will have to get used to a lifetime of dull social events, official functions and media intrusion. Although it is unlikely that she will ever become a feminist icon or a class warrior, we can but hope that the arrival of Lady Kate may yet challenge rather than reinforce some of Britain's most deep-seated prejudices.

Stefan Simanowitz is a journalist, broadcaster and human rights campaigner, you can see more of his work here.

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Quiz: Can you identify fake news?

The furore around "fake" news shows no sign of abating. Can you spot what's real and what's not?

Hillary Clinton has spoken out today to warn about the fake news epidemic sweeping the world. Clinton went as far as to say that "lives are at risk" from fake news, the day after Pope Francis compared reading fake news to eating poop. (Side note: with real news like that, who needs the fake stuff?)

The sweeping distrust in fake news has caused some confusion, however, as many are unsure about how to actually tell the reals and the fakes apart. Short from seeing whether the logo will scratch off and asking the man from the market where he got it from, how can you really identify fake news? Take our test to see whether you have all the answers.

 

 

In all seriousness, many claim that identifying fake news is a simple matter of checking the source and disbelieving anything "too good to be true". Unfortunately, however, fake news outlets post real stories too, and real news outlets often slip up and publish the fakes. Use fact-checking websites like Snopes to really get to the bottom of a story, and always do a quick Google before you share anything. 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.