With less fairy tale and more cautionary tale of "The New Normal" in mind, Brits, along with the rest of the world, have failed to imagine the relative ease terrorists would have in sabotaging the royal wedding.
(freshrant.com) What could be a more perfect setting for a willing suspension of disbelief than a fairy tale? But Will and Kate’s royal wedding is no mere fairy tale. It’s already being billed as the wedding of a still prepubescent century. The international media repeats the mesmerizing story of a handsome prince who won the heart of a beautiful commoner. The world waits breathlessly to see all the royals and all the carriages and all the queen’s horses and all the queen’s men parade in pomp and circumstance through the streets of London town.
Disturbingly, this time of indulging in this singular fantasy of a royal wedding is the precise moment in which the British people have let down their guard of critical faculties allowing them to be exposed to the possibility of an asymmetrical terrorist attack of historic proportions.
Hyperbole? I think not. It is instructive to look at another infamous attack on a royal couple that is widely credited as the opening salvo of World War I.
Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire, was assassinated nearly one hundred years ago during a visit Sarajevo to inspect the Austro-Hungarian troops stationed there.
Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were shot and killed as a result of a plot by a Serbian terrorist group while traveling through the streets of the city in June 1914. After an initial foiled plot with grenades earlier in the day, one of the seven assassins finally succeeded by shooting the couple in their car.
Of course, there is no comparison to the security surrounding the Archduke Ferdinand and his wife compared to what will be seen on the streets of London today. London is purported to have more security cameras overseeing its public spaces than any other major city in the world. There will be a security force of 5,000 patrolling the streets and buildings along the parade route. And then there are those queen’s horses. 187.
Ironically, Kate Middleton and her father will arrive in the Queen’s Rolls-Royce Phantom VI, the same vehicle that carried Charles and Camilla when it was attacked by protesters in December. It is not the Rolls that is of major concern, but the just married royal couple’s ride through the streets of London in the same 109 year-old open-top State Landau carriage built for King Edward VII in 1902. This is the same carriage that carried Princess Diana and Prince Charles back to Buckingham Palace after their wedding thirty years ago.
If this scenario weren’t bad enough, from a security standpoint, the newlywed’s landau will lead a procession of horse-drawn coaches carrying Middleton’s parents, Prince Charles and Camillia, and Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh – an open air royal trifecta of once and future kings, queen and consorts for wannabe terrorists. Of course, the route is published for all to see on the royal wedding website.
Small consolation is the news, in event of bad weather, that the bride and groom will travel in The Glass Coach. Yes, fairy tale watchers, it really is called The Glass Coach. Built in 1881, it is doubtful the glass of the coach has been retrofitted with the bullet-proof variety. In any case, latest forecasts show diminishing chances for rain on the day of the wedding.
Imagine for a moment that the president of the United States announces he will travel on the 4th of July from the White House to the Capitol to observe the annual fireworks display on the Mall. He will relinquish his shiny vehicular fortress that is the Caddy presidential limo and ride with Michelle in an antique carriage drawn by horses. Accompanied by horseback riding police along the parade route, Joe and Jill Biden will follow in their own carriage along with Michelle’s mother. House Speaker, John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reed, will take up the rear in a red, white and blue open air landau.
While this example does not provide a perfect symmetry between the elected leaders of the United States and the royals of Great Britain, it does point out the dangerously foolhardy stupidity of the exercise. But then, long ago America had its tragic go at watching its leaders ride through the streets in open air vehicles.
The world seems positively entranced, hypnotized, anesthetized by this fairy tale of a perfect royal wedding and perfectly immune to its dangers. What worked so well without incident during the royal wedding of Charles and Diana in 1981, may not work well at all in what we called “the new normal” of a post 9/11 and 7/7/05 London.
What should incline us less toward fairy tale and more toward cautionary tale is the fact of an unprecedented procession of members of the royal family riding through the crowded streets of London in antique, slow-moving, unprotected, open air vehicles pulled by unpredictable large animals in the midst of an enormously crowed urban center in a city that has been victimized by attacks perpetrated by anonymous home grown terrorists impossible to track on international watch lists. As big of a buzz kill as it is, imagine the asymmetry of one or several terrorists, anarchists, anti-royalists or madmen with hidden semi-automatics or plastic explosives or other easily concealed destructive devices hiding in the crowds until the precise moment of attack.
From a security standpoint, it’s difficult not to imagine the Westminster-Buckingham Palace royal carriage processional being the coup de grâce of all terrorist acts…an attack involving the disruption of the world’s most famous royals in the midst of one of their greatest and most public family celebrations, a family that would not exist if were not for its Western imperialist conquests, and a family whose queen serves as the titular head of the Christian Church of England.
While the British royals are not political leaders who actually run the country they once ruled, any terrorist attack upon their persons would be a symbolic rallying cry for an entire nation and serve simultaneously as reason and excuse to renew costly and too often overbearing measures on the so-called war on terror.
What this royal wedding terrorist scenario would have over the attacks on 9/11 is a built-in worldwide live television audience of more than 2 billion viewers. That’s a lot of free advertising.
We can only hope the royal wedding will be a fairy tale suitable for bedtime stories, not the object of another terrorist attack to haunt our collective nightmares.