This week's New Statesman looks inside Britain's ultimate political machine – the royal family. In the magazine, the historian Dominic Sandbrook explains why the Queen is such a skilled politician, Will Self decries the royal wedding as an overwrought prelude to a session of breeding and David Starkey calls Elizabeth a "tough old boot".
Elsewhere, Rob Brown argues that Alex Salmond's nationalist government has failed to bring Scotland any closer to independence. Irwin Stelzer urges Labour to attack the Tories over the EU, Alex Preston looks at the power of credit rating agencies to make or break both countries and companies, and Max Benitz reports from the front line in Afghanistan, on patrol with the Scots Guards.
Plus, Amanda Foreman looks at the dark side of empire, Alice Miles discusses her plans for the royal wedding and Kasia Boddy celebrates the glorious unpredictability of Bob Dylan.