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Royal snub to Blair, Brown

Former PMs Margaret Thatcher and John Major will be attending the April 29 wedding. Dipankar De Sarkar reports.

world Updated: Apr 28, 2011 00:38 IST
Dipankar De Sarkar

It's the political whodunit before the royal wedding. The exclusion of former Labour Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown from Friday's wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton has led to furious speculation over whether
it was a calculated snub and, if so, who was behind it.

Labour MPs suspect Prime Minister David Cameron's office. "I blame Downing Street for not spotting it and saying, 'We don't like Gordon Brown either, but he really should be there'," said Labour's shadow justice minister
Chris Bryant.

"It makes you want to ask what the motive is. It seems to be picking a fight quite unnecessarily," added Labour MP Graham Allen, chairman of the Commons political and constitutional reform committee.

And former Labour Europe minister Denis Macshane said he will table Parliamentary questions to find out whether the government had any role, adding: "It is quite gratuitous to invite two living former Prime Ministers who are
Conservatives, but snub the ones that are Labour."

The Palace's initial explanation was that former Tory premiers Margaret Thatcher and John Major are both Knights of the Garter - the highest knighthood given by the royal family. In addition, Major was made a guardian of William and his brother Harry after the death of their mother Princess Diana in 1997.

A Palace spokesman added, "It is a private wedding and the couple are entitled to invite whoever they want. 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."

Yet another theory was proffered by the blogs editor of the Daily Telegraph newspaper, who wrote that no one believes the Knights of Garter explanation, and that the real reason is that Prince William "cannot stand" Blair, whom
he blames for making political capital out of his mother's death.

In his autobiography published last year, Blair devoted an entire chapter on the aftermath of Diana's death, claiming he acted as a bridge between a seemingly distant royal family and an angry public. He wrote, "There was a big debate over the boys [William and Harry] should walk behind the cortege with Prince Charles, and concern about the differing possible public reactions to him and to them."