Saturday, April 30, 2011


Of course I watched the Royal Wedding! How could I not? Having blogged about William & Catherine's engagement, which took place while I was in England last Fall, naturally I was going to watch it. What can I say: I am an Anglophile. The wedding did bring back memories of when I was a boy drinking early morning tea with Momma and Nana as we watched Charles & Diana get married. Can you believe that was 30 years ago? They would have loved this Royal Wedding as well. Hearing that the Queen had given the couple the titles the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also put a smile on my lips, making me think back to my days of studying at Selwyn College at Cambridge University. It was where I first met my friend CF and we had quite a few adventures. Sure enough, CF wound up texting me during the wedding saying the same thing. Speaking of technology, I was struck also by how the Royals have integrated it into their public lives. The British Monarchy has had its own website for years, but did you know they have a Flickr pool, a Twitter page, a Facebook page, and a YouTube site? It's pretty amazing when you consider they have a reputation for being old fashioned. The picture you see here of the newlyweds is from their Flickr photostream of official wedding photos which William & Katherine selected to be disseminated.

Every Internet-based form of news media has the wedding covered, so I won't bother linking to anything, but I'll make just a few observations. As always, there was a lot of pomp & circumstance, but the Brits have been doing it for so long, and always do it so well, it's simply magical simply to watch. But let's face it, it's all about the fashion. First, her wedding dress was stunning, elegant, and timeless. Like everyone else, I immediately thought of Grace Kelly, and I loved the retro-yet-modern 1950s look the dress had. I had a suspicion there would be a connection to the house of Alexander McQueen (the Met’s exhibition on him opens next week), but I didn’t know it would be designed by Sarah Burton. Second, William looked brilliant in red, and Harry…yum! Why are men always stuck wearing dour tuxedos at weddings? Uniforms aside, a little bit of color can only enhance the look, respecting, of course, that the bride still must outshine. (My friends RL+DG were a model to emulate!) William & Kate’s two kisses on the balcony and the drive-off in the Aston Martin were smart moves on their part. They managed to pull of tradition with modern flair, showing how they are the new monarchy for the 21st century. Third, loved the Queen looking all sassy in that sunshine yellow frock and hat...85 years old too! (Her 60-year Jubilee is coming up in 2012.) Finally, the hats...insane! The Duchess of York (Fergie) mayn't have been invited to the wedding, but her daughters are learning from her about standing out in a crowd. Princess Beatrice's hat looked like a combination of a Rococo wall ornament and a Christmas-giftbox-ribbon. The hats were adventurously fabulous. American women, take note!

With the swelling of the crowds in the London streets and the estimated 2 billion people who watched the wedding worldwide, hopefully the naysayers about the monarchy realize that despite everything there is a tradition of over 1000 years that has been the backbone of the British people and made them who they are today. For sure, the monarchy has to evolve to meet the more Republican (and even Socialist) demands of the people, but nothing happens overnight. The truth is, we need people like the Queen. Part of the mystique that surrounds our world leaders is the assumed glarmorous, magical world in which they live. People want to know that the Queen and the Royals are just like them, but at the same time they also need for them to be distant, removed, even above them in some way, so that they become a model to which one can aspire. An important part of that aspiration is the glam and the pomp & circumstance. People need a little tradition, and some historically-derived bling, in order to help guide them to a higher model of excellence. This doesn't mean the Queen is a god; it means she represents the best of the nation, and the world. Besides, think of the alternative: do the Brits really want their only visual representation of leadership to be David Cameron and his wife? Trust me, Americans know: we had 8 years of George & Laura Bush, and it wasn't pretty.

As an aside, my royal watching actually had begun Thursday evening when I finally watched on DVD The King’s Speech. It’s strange that I hadn’t seen the movie before now, but the timing to watch it worked out well, and of course I loved the film. The climax of the movie, when he gives his wartime radio speech, the way they syncopated it to the second movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, was a marvelous moment in cinematic history. The important thing to keep in mind, however, is that this actually did happen. Here is his portrait by Meredith Frampton, painted in 1929 when he was still the Duke of York (image: National Portrait Gallery). He was King George VI, the father of Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Cambridge’s great-grandfather. He had to overcome a major obstacle in order to become a leader, and he did it with the help of a friend who was not of royalty but of the people. It’s something to think about as the present Royals drive off into the sunset on their honeymoon, and a new generation of the monarchy takes us along with them for the ride.


pranogajec said...

I really don't think "we" or Britain need the royalty. For a humorous take:

bklynbiblio said...

I like Jon Stewart, but I didn't find this funny. I DO agree that the media ridiculously went overboard with this, to the exclusion of other news. Hundreds of Americans were killed by tornados in the South, but we got no reports about that until Saturday morning. I also DO recognize that the expense for the wedding was astronomical, especially during a period when the British nation is in a dire financial crisis on many fronts, and I find it distasteful that the British taxpayer has to spend any money toward the wedding. But I still stand by my belief that people need to look up to other people so they have something to aspire to. We all may want to live in a "democratic" society, but there will always be capitalism, there will always be greed, and there will always be people wealthier and with more power. What makes me sick is that most Westerners now will look up to sports figures, the Kardashian sisters, Donald Trump, the Real Housewives of Pick-A-City, and other nonsensical wealthy people who have done nothing even remotely significant and instead insult people's intelligence with their own existence. We can accept that ridiculous nonsense? But we can't accept a family with a 1000-year legacy and history that has impacted the entire world? The Royals DO need to evolve. My point is that I am hopeful that with this new generation that evolution will happen.

pranogajec said...

We like to have inspiring figures, I just don't think the royals are those people. What is there to aspire to when you look at the royals? It is a hereditary monarchy. Now, Queen Noor of Jordan is someone to look up to...she actually does some considerable good in the world. The British royals are an anachronism and they certainly help sell tabloids, but that's hardly a great inspirational purpose.