As part of our Ministructures series, artist Lucy Sparrow has made felt versions of London’s landmarks. For each iconic building she stitches, we meet a Londoner connected with it. This week, we talk to Harry Matthew Dodd, 22, student and Director of the Centre of Performing Arts at the University of Westminster.
A royalist, huh?
‘I think we’re so lucky to have a royal family – they’re such high-profile ambassadors for the country. That’s my practical justification. But I also think it’s just romantic and charming that we have a thousand-year-old tradition with a direct lineage that can be traced to the present day. I love all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the whole thing, but also that it’s a great excuse for a party.’
So you like a royal knees-up, then…
‘I do. I helped put on a choral celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. And I threw parties for the Royal Wedding and Jubilee in my bedsit. We had champagne, bunting, a flag and Pimm’s. There wasn’t enough space – people were hanging out of the windows to smoke. I also go to a lot of public events – I went to the trooping of the colour this year and last, and the party in the park for the Jubilee, and I was in Hyde Park for the wedding, listening to hymns from the Abbey…’
‘I’ve had to stand in the rain a few times, but it’s worth it for the spectacle. I’m quite into the performing arts – singing, music – and I suppose that’s one reason I’m so drawn to the Royal Family. It’s all like a stage act, an escape from the real world.’
Who’s your favourite royal?
‘Prince Harry is quite handsome. And I admire the Queen. I’ve only actually seen her in the flesh about three times – and she was speeding past very fast in a carriage. I can see the democratic issue with the royal family, but I choose to view the whole thing with a sense of humour. I mean, the expense it takes to get her from one end of the Mall to the other, surrounded by horses, flags and troops. Just to get her to the end of the street!’
So what do you say to the haters?
‘A lot of people don’t like the monarchy, and I can see their point. But I think that for 47p per person per year, it’s a great laugh. And if you think about the Queen, the same person is shaking hands with Obama that shook hands with Winston Churchill – that’s amazing.’
What do you think of Buckingham Palace?
‘It’s the nation’s official home. It’s not the most exciting building, but it’s understated and very British. There was actually a break-in a couple of weeks ago. I can assure you it was nothing to do with me…’
We believe you. And what do you make of baby Buckingham Palace?
‘It’s cute. At first I wasn’t sure about the smiley face – but I suppose the building is meant to welcome people with a smile, so it works.’