Great value of Royal visit
The value of last week’s Royal visit to Blackpool cannot be underestimated.
Those of us who remember the Queen’s visit 25 years ago, will have noted this couldn’t have been more different when it came to showing the sides of town that probably wouldn’t have been showcased in the past.
Back in 1994, we were following the Royal Progress, still with a certain element of due deference. As reporters we kept our distance and commentated on the walkabout in front of the Tower with a sense of awe that people always reserve for occasions when they get to see, or even better, meet the Queen.
These were the days before social media and Facebook Live feeds, and so description was everything for those listening back home or at work. The mental image Radio Wave presenter Neil Sexton summoned up in his commentary: “And her Majesty turns left and heads for Pricebusters”, still whirling around in my head a quarter of a century later.
The visit of William and Kate, by comparison, was less of a regal affair and more of a ‘hands on’ Royal couple spending the day immersed in meetings with local people, really getting to know our town, and visiting areas you may not have imagined the Queen might visit. This is what the new generation of Royals are all about… relaxed, approachable, happy, but very much still Royal… and that’s what makes this so special.
The couple toured a rundown slum clearance house in Kirby Road, whilst at the same time, getting a good look at the My Blackpool Home project on the other side of the street. This went a very long way towards making Blackpool’s message very clear. The Duke himself, fully appraised of our problems AND our positives, went away with an extremely clear view of why Blackpool is getting some overdue TLC and investment.
Yes, the Promenade was reopened in time, and the place spruced up as it should be.
It didn’t seemed to stop some of the naysayers though, conspiracy theories running riot from the bedroom keyboard as usual. Despite the random surmising of Monday evening’s Facebook rants that “it would probably be closed again after the Royals had left”, I note it’s still open. Positivity is what we need now more than ever.