Friday, April 29, 2011
There's something Narnia-esque about William and Kate. Their wedding must be more understated than the incredible wedding of William's parents in 1981. After Charles's and Diana's wedding, we won't believe in living fairy tales again. At the time, it looked like the dawning of a new age. In fact, it was the last gasp of the Victorian era. There's still something to Kate's and William's story about romantic fantasies coming true, but tempered by compromise and practicality.
Marriages of royals to commoners are the biggest indicators that an über-democratic approach to royal affairs has been established by the Windsors and other surviving royal houses in Europe. It's a big trend (see here, here, here, here, here and here); it's also occurring in royal houses outside Europe and marks a huge shift in values. One of the oldest human institutions is radically changing. The lead-up to the royal wedding today weirdly involved royal snubs to assert the new order of things, making space for celebrities and new favourites. Yet some of those decisions were - odd. The Obamas not invited? Oh, to be a fly on the wall to hear what they said in the White House.
Or the Duchess of York? I will always remember footage of the Duchess of York's first visit to Canada with Prince Andrew. They were standing next to a rocky beach in northern Ontario, struggling with some little ceremonial kayak they were supposed to paddle around in. The air was solid blackflies, and she was laughing - which made Andrew laugh and all the local officials laugh, too. Don't underestimate how much of a good sport she was (see here, here, here and here). She made the horror of being eaten alive into a great moment. Everyone liked her.
Sarah Ferguson is a survivor. She's the only female contemporary close to Diana who made it through the ring of fire again and again. Survival doesn't always make a pretty picture. On what is supposed to be a happy day, maybe the new order could have acknowledged that survival.
There is a sharp comment on the royals-marrying-commoners trend here, which harshly criticizes the transformation of royals into what the writer sees as vulgar and flashy celebrities, who have lost touch with their duties and traditional roles. Meanwhile, UK Republicans think this royal wedding is not democratic enough. This wedding list catapults the ancient institution of monarchy somewhere in between celebrity and socially conscious activism.
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