When it comes to pageantry, you have to admit that no one pulls it off quite like the British. The royal wedding, in keeping with longstanding, posture-perfect, don't-miss-a-beat tradition, was an exceptional show. Even naysayers who think the monarchy is archaic, parasitic and irrelevant had to concede a certain excellence in the event, understated as it was by Westminster Abbey standards. Certainly, none of the millions of people around the world who watched the highly anticipated nuptials could possibly have been disappointed.
Being married to a Brit, and the mother of two half-British offspring, I was among those who rose at 5:30 a.m. to watch the red-carpet arrival of the royals and to see The Dress as Kate got into her limo. Wouldn't have missed it! Camilla in her oversized hat, The Queen erect and, well, queenly, in her gold ensemble, "the boys" in their military garb entering the Abbey where their mother had been laid to rest. Who can deny the curiosity we all had, and the thrill of almost being there in real time?
And who can deny that the lovely Kate and the charming Will, who so clearly love each other and who have brought a breath of fresh air into an institution on life support, weren't wonderful to watch, she in that magnificently understated gown, he glowing with pride and communicating with her by way of his wry smile? The trees were a nice touch, the music was moving, the words they composed together for the occasion were beautiful and full with meaning.
In a time of unspeakable tragedies and overt anxiety, an age when nuclear reactors explode, tornadoes and tsunamis level entire cities, economic collapse is a real possibility, death and destruction come to us live from various parts of the world in revolt, didn't we all need a time to partake of beauty and love, to rejoice in ritual, to remind ourselves that there is hope?
Thanks, Catherine and William, we needed that.
At the same time, I understand those who charge that the event was "the epitome of elitism" as someone I know said. I'm pretty disturbed myself at the cost of The Dress alone, not to mention all the other expense of such an extravaganza. Just think of all that silver, china, and crystal, all those flowers, the canapes and wine, the carriages, the before and after clean-up, the security detail, the pounds sterling just keep adding up in mindboggling amounts. I get it.
But I don't think, as some have suggested, that the whole thing was "obscene."
Obscene is politicians in our country acting unilaterally to kill democracy in their communities and states (think Wisconsin and Michigan) or passing legislation that makes it infinitely harder for some voters to register (Arizona). Obscene is trying to end the constitutional right to abortion, state by state, and attempting to put an agency like Planned Parenthood, which provides so much primary health care to poor women, out of business. Obscene is a potential presidential candidate spewing F-bombs like a child having a temper tantrum to get attention. Racial undertones such as those present in questioning President Obama's bona fides is obscene as is so-called budget reform on the backs of the old, the sick, and the poor while the rich still get huge tax breaks.
None of these things would the newly named Duke and Duchess of Cambridge espouse or support. To the contrary, they appear to represent and stand for fundamental decency, at all levels of human interaction (listen again to the words they crafted in the personal prayer they wrote). I believe they will serve their country well and in so doing, will make Britain proud.
So I don't condemn them for their wedding day, even though I am not a royalist. Like many others, I took pleasure in the respite their grand event afforded. I wish them long life and much happiness, monarchs or not. (I like to think of them as just Kate and Will -- that in itself gives me hope for a better future.)
Perhaps my daughter put it best after the event; "Not that I'm into monarchies per se," she wrote on her Facebook page. "But wedding gowns, wild hats, the abbey, Sir Elton John, choirs, trumpets, crumpets, and myrtle! Love? Yes! Oh, yes indeed!"