I have been mulling over the whole royal wedding thing. I read David Weigel’s “In Defense of the Frivolous Royal-Watching” for Slate Magazine; I went on to suggested articles by Amanda Hess, Petula Dvorak and Matthew Yglesias with its slew of cranky comments. I percolated.
Weigel wrote: “First there was the royal wedding hype. Then, there was the backlash to the royal wedding hype. Then, there was the backlash to the backlash to the royal wedding hype.”
At the beginning, I remember the cover stories and the endless replaying of the engagement announcement clips. I thought briefly to myself, “Oh that’s nice,” before saying something snippy about why the 10 o’clock news never covers actual news and could we please get on with it?
Going into last week, the only reason I was sure of the date was the souvenir mug that recently made it’s way across the Atlantic and into our kitchen, the merit of which—for me—was deeply rooted in the Regretsy post regarding mugs mistakenly featuring Prince Harry (despite fancy detailing).
I figured I would click through a few slide shows of the whole affair once all was said and done. I am vastly entertained by hats.
And then I remembered that I am unemployed, so why not? I remembered that it is OK to like seemingly silly things once in a while. I also remembered that I like to sleep. Solution: I DVR’d BBC America’s coverage, along with Today and The View (which was an embarrassment for the hosts and I felt through-and-through each prick of Barbara Walters’ pain). The only thing I saw live was the circa 9:30 CST Aston Martin appearance, which may have been the best part.
It was cute. If it hadn’t been an Aston Martin, it would have even been a little kitsch.
Actually, with those 1990s-esque neon-colored initialed balloons—it was kind of kitsch, which provided a feeling of authenticity, of fun and joy in the day. It wasn’t boring. In fact, the convertible exit was what prompted me to actually delve into the DVR menu in order to see how else the royal couple had attempted to give some lightness to their nuptials.
So I assessed the BBC coverage situation. It was lengthy. I won’t lie: I fast-forwarded through some of it. The endless street parties throughout the isles? No, thank you. People waiting in line? No, thank you. Interviews with every England coach? No, thank you.
Historian Simon Schama voicing my exact thoughts about the use of young trees lining the aisle providing an organic echo of the soaring Gothic arch of Westminster Abbey? Yes, please. It was inspired, perfect and I loved it. If I get my childhood wish and marry in a Gothic cathedral, I want trees. Done and done. Copied.
Seriously. Whoever suggested trees should get a medal.
All in all, it was sort of exactly what one should have expected. The line between impersonal pomp and perceived personable approachability was danced and a satisfying show was given.
I think the word “given” is key here. As much as plenty of people would rather stab their eyes out than watch the royal wedding, and as much as plenty of Londoners fled for the long weekend, a lovely show was provided for those interested. What is the point of having a powerless monarchy if they don’t give you a show once in a while?
The gown evoked a Tudor-esque silhouette with the long tight sleeves, corseted bodice and padded triangular skirt (for princess story aficionados, hitting just a few stylistic notes later than Sleeping Beauty’s dress).
Prince William’s uniform on the other hand evoked Cinderella’s later nineteenth century prince-with-no-name-and-barely-a-face, except that this prince has a name and a face, and evidently was interested in having a personal royal wedding.
It wasn’t surprising. It wasn’t off-putting. It was enjoyable. It mixed necessary pomp with what felt like a personalized shot at naturalism as far as such can be achieved. It was what it was.
Which sort of brings me to my point, and the final decision that all my percolating came to: [we don’t have this in the United States, but] it is a nice, hopeful, patriotic, national show that the wide public is invited to witness. You can enjoy it, or you can leave it. It doesn’t matter. If it makes you happy to watch, then watch. If not, that’s cool too, but forced negativity based on a desire to prove oneself to be above engaging with outdated royalty is besides the point. At best, they provide entertainment or the occasional comfort on some level. At worst they do embarrassing things like wear Nazi uniforms to a costume party, which gives everyone a chance to shake their heads and rant. On average they are boring figureheads who stay out of politics and look nice on special occasions. It’s not as if they have any actual life-ruining powers.
It might seem silly. It certainly is excessive, but you know, every few decades shining up the old Rolls and Landau, giving the people a show—why not?
A woman in the crowd outside Buckingham Palace shortly before the kiss said to a BBC reporter, “With all going on in the world today… it’s nice just to have fun and just to be British.”
I think this was the overall sentiment of the day. Schama declared the day as “the triumph of sentiment” (which has kind of been the British monarchy’s thing since Victoria, let’s face it). He also noted “there’s a sort of wisdom when you suspend cynicism.” It’s nice to have a nice news day. You don’t have to be obsessed with princes and princesses to recognize that. And sometimes our cynicism is just as sickening as getting lost in the idea of a fairy tale day.
So at first, I was politely interested/disinterested. I’m not 13 anymore, I will not be adding any commemorative magazines to my library. Then I felt strongly that I should not be interested. After all, I am not a cat lady making tea sandwiches at 4 a.m in flannel pajamas. And then I realized that there is no harm in engaging with it. Hell, I watch the Oscars every year like it’s a religion. If I am going to be snooty about actively not caring that William and Kate are getting married, then I probably shouldn’t keep doing an Oscars best and worst breakdown every year focusing not on anyone’s merit but the entertainment of the evening.
On that note, you better believe I took a few notes on my phone, so here’s my list of moments and things. You knew it was coming after my ponderings. I cannot help myself.
- First of all, is Pippa short for something? If not, I bet the Middletons are really glad they named their eldest daughter Catherine. Princess Pippa just doesn’t seem in the cards. It is spunky though.
- Some brass band somewhere at some point was playing “I’m Getting Married in the Morning” and now I am going to have to watch My Fair Lady, because it is the best.
- Posh Spice, what on earth were you wearing? I mean really. First of all, you are wearing black at a wedding. Second of all, you are wearing hooker shoes from 1999. Third of all, your hat would have won worst hat if Princess Beatrice hadn’t shown up later. In fact, maybe it still does, because you wore black to a midday wedding.
Prime Minister David Cameron’s wife Samantha did not wear a hat. Isn’t that against dress code? She certainly looked the odd woman out.
- There was an awkward moment where Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall was trying to discretely side step into place for the procession into the Abbey… but it took far too many steps for her to get into position. Awk.
Dear Queen Elizabeth II: way to wear canary yellow (I am told the proper term is primrose). I applaud your bold fashion choice, despite the fact that you just had the same coat and hat that you always wear done up in a new color (I prefer you blue and red ensemble from the 27th) I understand, the sartorial choices for 85-year-old lady monarchs are scarce. Also, I am beginning to ponder your life and I think you might be sassy. More thoughts forthcoming.
- That time it took about an hour just to load Kate Middleton’s train into the Rolls Royce.
- There was an applaudable lack of tears at the ceremony. So many smiles. William and Kate were smiling through the whole thing. That’s nice. Even the Duke of Edinburgh managed to stay awake long enough for a few vague expressions of joy.
- Remember that time the ring just wouldn’t go over her knuckle?
- I quite enjoyed the sermon. There I said it.
- Awkward moments: “God Save the Queen,” camera zooms in on the queen and her husband awkwardly pretending to mumble the lyrics while she sits there being lauded.
I wish I was one of the little bridesmaids who got to ride in an open carriage with Prince Harry back to Buckingham Palace. There, I said it. Although if I was 5 years old or whatever, I would probably have rather been riding with the pretty lady than some ginger.
- Did you know that after the wedding three hours of bell peeling from Westminster Abbey ensued. Three. Hours. Of. Bell. Peeling.
- I have to admit one of my favorite things in life in general is when horses are supposed to be behaving in a dignified manner and instead they do weird things with their gums, or reach over and start nibbling or head butting the equine next to them. This brings me joy.
- I close with what may be the most likeable thing Prince Charles has ever done: Holding up tiny bridesmaid Eliza Lopes during the balcony appearance.
Also, the best thing I have discovered in my post-wedding research: British Monarchy has a Flickr account.
Also, Kate Middleton for the Win is pretty funny, especially if you take the time to scroll through past the first page.
I have a lot of spare time.