Friday, April 29, 2011

What I Think About the Royal Wedding

This morning, Prince William and Kate Middleton got married. I admit to being a gigantic Anglophile, so I've been looking forward to this for some time; also, I study history, and it's hard to miss the significance of seeing the future king getting married. Also, I never give up a chance to gawk at the luxurious interior of Westminster Abbey whenever I can. As it happened, the TV was still on when I fell asleep last night, so this morning I woke to the coverage of the wedding, with the couple standing at the altar, literally seconds before they spoke their vows. It was pretty magnificent.

I can understand some people not wanting to watch the wedding. It's cool, I get it, it's not your thing. That's fine, we all have our different things. When I cannot understand is the people who spend an inordinate amount of energy tearing it down, to anyone and everyone who will listen and some who won't, saying that the coverage pre-empted their TV show, or the procession messed up traffic, or the whole exercise was nothing but an egregious waste of taxpayer money. These people are missing the point.

The magic behind this wedding is how it gives some light in what is otherwise a pretty stressful time. This is the same reason why we have Christmas in the dead of winter, because humans need some celebration and social color when everything around them is bleak. Just within the last few months, people have been reading the papers and have read about are wars and layoffs and strikes and terrorists and earthquakes, seemingly around every corner; it does wonders that in the middle of it all is a weekday when people from every walk of life can go downtown, ignore their worries, and enjoy some parading of the regalia for a while.

And besides all of that, it's Prince William. I am one of many who have watched William grow up, literally since they were born. They were raised well, all things considered - running out into a busy intersection to help push a stranded motorist's car, for example. Stories came out about their martinet grandmother the Queen, their goofball father and what we'll euphemistically call his "love letters" to Camilla, his brother in a Nazi costume, and persistent rumors that their Mum was going to run off and marry (heavens forbid) a Muslim.

Then Diana died, horribly, tragically, in the middle of the night, and the whole world felt terrible for the two boys who had to be told about it. Everyone watched William as he walked, head down, behind her hearse, and we all felt terribly for him and his little brother. They became the modern equivalent of the Princes in the Tower: two boys, not even grown up yet, suddenly having to deal with the unseemly underbelly of grown-up life. We watched William as he went to school, did charity work, got his RAF wings, and now he pilots rescue helicopters and is getting ready to get married.

So now we see him on the altar, in his bright red uniform with a sword on his hip, seeing him whispering "You're beautiful" to the pretty girl when she comes up and stands next to him at the altar. Have people really become so jaded that that doesn't seem uplifting to them? It's a fairy tale ending if there ever was one, and people need fairy tales when times are rough, even if it's only for a day.

It's fun, people; it's a party. A big international party that comes once in a generation. Relax. Enjoy it. Have a biscuit.