I went to an event last night organised by Debrett’s, which was established in 1769, the year after the Royal Academy, to help police the upper echelons of English society through the publication of The New Peerage.   Its chief executive gave a fine speech in which she denounced the tendency for people of so-called influence to be privately educated, which was an intriguing inversion of its original role, nowadays committed to the establishment of a free – but networking – meritocracy.


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