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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.

( 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.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (3+ / 0-) freshrant@facebook freshrant@twitter

    by freshrant on Thu Apr 28, 2011 at 03:49:56 PM PDT

    •  freshrant Response to Comments (0+ / 0-)

      It appears a common response had to do with the article being an attack on the royal family, the royal wedding or the British culture.  The article did not even mention the wedding ceremony or the institution of royalty.  

      It was an attack on one particular vulnerability in the day's security pointing out the carelessness of having the royal family paraded through the streets of London in open carriages in 2011 vs. Diana and Charles 1981 which predates today's security threat.

      It is quite naive to say that the British are used to attacks and have been doing security a long time.  Nothing.  Nothing can stop a crazed or fanatical armed person from shooting from this kind of crowd.

      And it is apple and oranges to compare some of the other celebrations mentioned.  At Obama's inauguration, which I attended, he gave his inauguration speech behind a tall bulletproof plexiglass wall on what was a very distant platform from a fenced in crowd that had to pass through security checkpoints.

      Time Square?  Sure there is the possibility of a terrorist attack, but this article dealt with high value terrorist targets as would be the British royal family.  Celebrations in Times Square or a winning baseball team have no where near the focus of high value heads of state that terrorists would target.

      The link provided by one commentator, Britain's Security Blanket for Royal Wedding Terror Triple Threat, does not inspire confidence.  Yes, there are a huge number of security cameras, but cameras and even a large security presence cannot stop harm to royalty riding in open air horse drawn carriages.  This link spoke of Al-Qaeda's statements of anger over both princes' fighting against Muslims in the British army.  Anarchists and North Irish groups were also mentioned as possible threats.

      The bottom line of the article is about not being naive, taking off the rose-colored glasses that this celebration induces (suspending one's disbelief) and being concerned about such an obvious gap in the security involving in the open air carriages.  

      Leaders and high value public officials from presidents and popes would counter the cavalier attitude of the commentators here as they now ride in closed bulletproof vehicles.  Surely Brits, who are master carriage and luxury auto makers could come up with an elegant glassed carriage for this much more modern and, sadly, dangerous age.  No, we don't need to retreat, nor live in fear, but we must be not fail in imagining such an elementary security gap that could cause tragedy for the royal family and all who wish to enjoy the celebration.  

      I confess to being surprised that the premise of my article was so easily proved by many of the comments made.  That is to say, we don't see what we don't want to see, and take this concern for one part of a happy celebration as an affront and attack on the whole.  Ultimately ironic, when this article was written out of concern for the safety of the royal family and the enormous repercussions any attack would have in such a widely telecast worldwide event. freshrant@facebook freshrant@twitter

      by freshrant on Thu Apr 28, 2011 at 11:35:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I am an Episcopalian. ++Rowan Williams (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Murphoney, Liberal Of Limeyland

    is the spiritual leader of our Communion. That said, I couldn't care less about the fecking Royal Wedding. There is a reason we threw them out of this country. Let us not forget that Britain burned the White House in the war of 1812.

    I may have British heritage, but I'll be good god damned if I am going to give a damn about some Prince marrying some girl he met in college.

    Craft is what emerges when you hit inspiration over the head with a stick.

    by commonmass on Thu Apr 28, 2011 at 04:02:55 PM PDT

  •  I don't think the Brits have let down their guard (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kpardue, KayCeSF, G2geek, fizziks, crose

    at all. Google around to see all the security measures that are being taken. Here's an example:

    Britain's Security Blanket for Royal Wedding Terror Triple Threat

    The US doesn't cancel the New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square because of possible terrorism. Why would the Brits cancel a royal wedding celebration?

    •  Everbody loves a wedding (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KayCeSF, mint julep, oxfdblue, Ekaterin, crose

      If you don't want to watch it, don't.  

      Queen Elizabeth is the constitutional monarch of the Commonwealth, not just the UK.  She is my Queen.

      A lot of Canadians, such as myself, who grew up with the Queen and her whole family (she's on our money after all),
      will be watching.

      After the Vancouver Canucks beat the Nashville Predators in the hockey playoff.

      "Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it" Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, part time vampire

      by marigold on Thu Apr 28, 2011 at 04:45:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My gawd. Why put this negativity out there? (6+ / 0-)

    I'm watching.  You don't want to, then don't.  But to put a downer negative out to the universe to somehow show your disdain for a royal wedding is beyond the pale.

    Ohbut I bet if this were Super Bowl you'd not say a thing?  GMAFB.  Some people here really love to rain on a parade, even if they are not part of it.

    Get a grip.  Some of us enjoy seeing people happy and celebrating.  Some of us realize there are other things in life to talk about or partake in.  

  •  Jeeeeeez Louise! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GMary, crose

    One can enjoy all the pomp of a royal wedding without supporting the monarchy. I know I will be watching and enjoying it.
    I hope nothing bad will happen and those two young people have a great and long life together.

    Muslims, Christians we're all Egyptians.

    by mint julep on Thu Apr 28, 2011 at 05:02:50 PM PDT

  •  first of all... (5+ / 0-)

    If people don't like the wedding, they don't have to watch it.  Going negative on another culture during one of their major celebrations is just mean and rude.   This happened w/r/t China during the Olympics: people here going off about our political issues with China.  Enough is enough; no more of that.  

    Second, the British military and security services are first-rate.  This according to a friend of mine who was an officer in the US Army and did some joint exercises & training exercises with them.  I'm confident they will keep everyone safe over there and prevent any attempts at terrorist attacks.  

    Third, yes it's reasonable to be nervous about security for any large public gathering in this day & age.  But don't let that ruin the occasion, otherwise the baddies win.  

    I wish the Royal couple well, and the people of Great Britain well.  May this be a wonderful and memorable occasion for all.

    •  "Going negative on another culture" (0+ / 0-)

      I didn't take offence.

      Many British people simply don't give a flying one about the royals, and about half the population say they're completely indifferent to the wedding.

      I find it embarrassing that we still have a remote, unelected head of state.

      This wedding does not represent British culture. It only represents the old-fashioned elitist streak in Britain which thankfully is slowly dying out.

      •  you're from there so you have better "standing" to (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        fizziks, Liberal Of Limeyland

        .... criticize goings-on there than we do over here.  

        As an American I'd sooner not criticize other cultures for traditional observances that cause no harm.  For example I have no criticism of the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca that causes no harm, though I have plenty of criticism of other things that occur in Saudi Arabia that do cause harm.  

        The issue I have with England these days is the enormous proliferation of surveillance, to the point where it is setting an example that's being picked up here in the US.  But I'm not going to go on rants about that tomorrow because that would be rude, and I mention it here in passing.  

        As with the Olympics in China:   No doubt many Chinese were indifferent to the occasion or even felt it was a bad thing for whatever reason.   However as an American I felt it important to respect China's achievements in hosting and participating in the Olympics.  

        •  Feel free to rant about the surveillance society (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I won't take offence, I would probably agree with your view.

          I do understand where you're coming from however. An outsider criticising another society is dodgy ground to tread on, but I welcome criticism from abroad as it can give alternative perspectives and ideas.

  •  we don't cancel the presidential inauguration (0+ / 0-)

    for security reasons.  Or New Years in Times Square.  Or ticker-tape parades for the Yankees.

    There is still a place for large public celebrations, even in a post-9/11 world.

  •  Still living in fear eh? (0+ / 0-)

    Look, you can die crossing the street or from a giant tornado dropping out of the sky.  We're mortal, we all die eventually, and yes some will die far before their time.  But living in fear, quaking under the bed and acting like a cowardly first-strike War on Terror supporter is really beyond the pale at this point.

    Man up, accept your mortality and just fucking deal with it.  And seriously, given the state the Middle East is in at the moment, I think the Taliban has bigger things to worry about right now than some ceremony that doesn't concern them.

  •  Look, (0+ / 0-)

    the Brits have been the terrorism route for a much longer time than we have, and it's usually been the Met and Interpol that have either found the bad guys before or after the fact and not some puffed-up secret guys in black jackets. Don't you think they have been pretty busy since the date was announced? Concern trolling aside, remember how proud you were when you saw Barack and Michelle and the girls on the inaugural podium? The Brits still have the real thing, a little bit of the fairy-tale past on which a great many fictional works of the last century had their foundations. Let them have their day in the sun, and be happy that the world is watching something besides burning, screaming, tornadoes, leaking radioactivity and the continued floundering of the government. There's a lot of history and culture about to parade across your screen. Like it or not it is an event to remember.

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