Harry and Meghan’s cake: a slice of modern Hackney

by Dave Hill

I’m neither enthralled nor appalled by the British monarchy. I expect this temperate stance will draw me to the TV for a little of today, and not just to watch the FA Cup Final. I have, in any case, some serious lying about to do in preparation for tomorrow Hackney Half Marathon. There is, of course, a Hackney connection with today’s royal wedding, because Prince Harry and Meghan Markle chose a hip Hackney bakery to make their wedding cake. It’s only a 20 minute walk from where I live. Last month I wrote a piece for Prospect Magazine about What It all Means. The piece began like this:

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s choice of an east London small business to make their wedding cake brings a long-term relationship between poshness and privation to a kind of royal climax. When the betrothed picked Violet, a café and bakery on a fairly quiet street at the edge of Dalston in Hackney to produce the star patisserie for their big day, it was a symbolic consummation of what some see as wholesome progress and others as wholesale colonisation.

Could there be a more complete manifestation of the wave of gentrification rippling across the inner city than Violet, and the values it represents? Not on the face of it. A part of the city that not so long ago was (unfairly) synonymous only with poverty and crime, has for some time had the word “fashionable” attached as a prefix, confirming Dalston in particular as a hotspot of hipsterism and all that follows in its wake, where a distinctively London working-class and an archetypally insurgent middle-class meet with an array of juxtapositions and effects.

Read the rest at Prospect here.

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