A celebration fit for a queen

"There was a sense that they didn't mind, they didn't care, they weren't grief-struck like the rest of the nation," said Johnson.

Diana's children - and the person one of them has married - have helped re-launch the royal brand. More and more they're carrying the royal mail. Recent opinion polls show the Queen is now more popular than she's ever been.

"Now we see the spokesmodel-type royals, who look fantastic," said Johnson. "I mean, you know, rail thin Hollywood types, who are turning into the biggest celebrities in the world and so that is inevitably sprinkling its fairy dust over all of them."

"Was that deliberate or was that an accident?" asked Phillips.

"What did Freud say? There's no such thing as an accident," Johnson replied. "Sure, they must have realized that these are attractive, engaging young people that everyone can relate to. I mean, Harry is funny, he is a card, and Kate Middleton is straight-forwardly nice and fantastically glamorous, and Prince William is going to be king. I mean, what's not to like?"

There are a few voices in the wilderness wondering how a hereditary monarchy fits into a modern world.

"I think the monarchy in some regards feels pretty alien to modern Britain," said Greg Jenner, a historian and writer on the kids' TV show "Horrible Histories." "Obviously still the Queen has a very high approval rating. But I think if you took the analogy of a house, the monarchy feels like a room which doesn't really fit in with the rest of the decor. You know, there's some lime green sofas and some chintzy wallpaper, and I think the rest of modern Britain has been updated.

"You could argue that actually William is a slightly newer version of the sofa," Jenner said.

No one is arguing, though, that the Queen doesn't serve a function . . . ceremonial, constitutional . . . a figurehead above the fray.

The peoples' monarch.

In the end, is the Jubilee just an excuse for a party?

"She is an excuse for a party, and wouldn't so many heads of state, including President Obama, like the same?" said Starkey. "If you enter into the people's heart, however crudely, however simply, that I think is rather a good thing. It's true of very few world leaders."

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