Plans for next week's royal wedding descended into a slightly farcical political row on Sunday after it emerged that neither Tony Blair nor Gordon Brown, former Labour Prime Ministers and among Britain's most high-profile political figures, has been invited while their Tory predecessors, Margaret Thatcher and John Major, figure prominently on the guest list that includes more than 200 politicians and diplomats.
As if to rub salt into the wound, media reports gleefully stressed that even a local butcher and a pub owner from the bride's home village had received invitations.
Also joining the 1,900-strong congregation at Westminster Abbey in London on April 29 to watch Prince William and Kate Middleton wed would be the barman from the Middleton family's favourite holiday island resort of Mustique, The Sunday Telegraph noted.
In a front-page splash under the heading “Royal wedding: no place for Blair and Brown,” the paper quoted furious Labour MPs as describing the decision to leave out Mr. Blair and Mr. Brown as a “snub.”
Was it because the Blairs and the Browns were not sufficiently deferential towards the royal family? they asked pointing out that Cherie Blair famously refused to “curtsy” to the Queen. Relations between her husband and the Palace deteriorated amid accusations that he tried to “hijack” Queen Mother's funeral in 2002. Mr. Brown was pointedly stiff during his meetings with the members of the royal family.
The official explanation was that they were not invited because, unlike Sir John and Lady Thatcher, they were not Knights of the Garter, Britain's highest order of chivalry conferred by the Queen. Besides, it was not a state occasion but a private wedding and it was for the couple to decide who to invite.
“There is no protocol reason to invite them, so unless they [the couple] wanted to invite former prime ministers for a personal reason, there's no reason to do so. It is a private wedding and the couple are entitled to invite whoever they want to it. Prince William is not the Prince of Wales or the King, and he hasn't got that link to prime ministers in the way that the Queen does,” an official spokesman said.