Friday, April 29, 2011

A Royal Fuss: Why I Loved the Wedding Hoopla Today

This morning, because of one glass too many of wine whilst watching silly TV, and my tendency towards insomnia, I woke, in spite of my deciding to blow it off and DVR it, at 3:30 am. I thought "Maybe I'll watch the Royal Wedding Live after all."  I loved it.  Teared up a couple of times.  Ended up feeling glad that I spent the time & effort to watch.

You might ask:  Why?  You're not even close to British, why do you care about these spoiled heirs, their wedding, the pomp, the taxpayers of England's bill?  Why did you spend four hours watching something when they don't even know you exist?  And also?  The princess motif is harmful to most women.  We can't be princesses, and we sell ourselves short if we decide to be "just." 

I am very tired now as a result, because, moms don't get the day off.  Field day, and juggling business needs, and grocery shopping, and gas filling up, all still happened in spite of watching princesses and princes wed in a lavish but somehow intimate ceremony in a place that I have happily walked. (Westminster Abbey was one of my favorite historic sites in London, and I even recognized on the TV one of the deacons or priests or vicars or whatever he actually was... he pointed me to Aphra Behn's grave, actually, which is in the courtyard there. He seemed a bit surprised and also pleased that I was looking for it, way back a few years ago, and I totally recognized him today bustling about.) 

I think my tiredness right now was ultimately worth it.  Why?  For one: I am an English major.  We are steeped like a hot tea bag full of black tea in a pot filled with literature, history, culture, and such.  Chaucer.  Shakespeare.  Virginia Woolf.  Aphra Behn. Oscar Wilde. J.M. Barrie. Arthur Conan Doyle.  Guy Ritchie. Terry Gilliam.

Much of it is British. I am ultimately an Americanist, a Modernist, someone who is filled with appreciation for popular culture, art, and all that makes us the Yanks we are.  But I do love my education.  I am glad to have the history that ties us to that tiny island.  And actually, from my Irish heritage on my father's side, I am about four generations back a British subject.

For two:  it's a wedding.  I like ALL weddings.  I teared up when Carmen Electra and Dave Navarro got married.   I like weddings!!  It is simply super cool and not at all ironic to celebrate love.  Commitment.  Faithfulness.  Hope.  It doesn't ultimately matter if they don't work out perfectly, because who does?  What matters, for a moment, is that weddings renew our own memory of our own special ties, of our own hearts filled with that optimistic leap into the future.

During the ceremony, the main preacher in charge mentioned that,  ALL weddings are royal weddings.  We are all partly touched by that hand of grace, of beauty, of joy.  Even if we step into a Justice of the Peace wearing a pair of jeans and a t-shirt bought at goodwill, we are participating in a gesture of hope and an abundantly optimistic view of the world wrought of the future.  Whatever happens, for a moment, we are Golden and even Pure.  It doesn't matter if we are not pure or golden in real life.  If we don't spend a lot of cash on the party.  If we aren't actually retiring to a castle where the servants are all small British teapots and talking Gallic candlesticks.

I have seen a lot of cynicism about the wedding.  Hell, I didn't watch on purpose any of the ridiculous media build up in the weeks before (I will admit it was on the TV at the gym, and so I have seen, if not heard because my earbuds were tuned to Charmed, during commercial breaks, a few segments on fashion and hats and the history of the Royal Couple's courtship.) 

I just have to say:  don't be a cynic.  Don't be disillusioned with the way people seem to be enthralled with this event.  If you don't want to watch, that is totally fine. You don't have to love it like I did. It was a damn long ceremony.  And frankly, the British taxpayers I saw didn't seem any more annoyed with footing the bill for the security (the family paid for all the other stuff, by the way) than WE do for an Inauguration ball and security, or a special airplane for every member of the Presidential family.  It's part of the deal. 

The danger of the internet Snark Fest is that you may actually, in trying to be "above it all" and away from the mass of public crowd-i-ness, actually miss the reason some of us are watching because I try to say nice things as often as possible.  So here is my nice thing:

Ultimately we really are all Princes and Princesses of our own little domains.  Even if we grew up in a trailer park or two (as I did) we have a moment where we are a princess.  I had my day of bride-zilla ness.  I don't think I was that bad, and my dress was bought at a consignment shop and my sister and Grandma catered my wedding.

And yes, my little princess won't wear a real diamond tiara, (she's more likely to own combat boots) and she won't preside over state dinners, (but she will grow up knowing which fork to use and basic rules of etiquette) she will go to college and learn about the world.  And maybe she'll stay home and raise her kids in an old fashioned way, or maybe she'll work and have a stay at home dad. 

And, like the two folks who got married today, I hope she will try her best to make the world a better place. 

And my little Prince will respect his wife (and all people).  He will not be too caught up in himself to notice that other people don't have it as easy as he did.  And he will be kind, and listen to those who love him, and he will try to learn from the mistakes of others. 

And I hope my Prince will try to make the world a better place, too.

Prince William has spent a night on the streets of London as a homeless person.  I haven't.  He didn't have to.  He has gone to Kenya and done environmental "missions" that are not the "pampered elite".  He lost his flawed but beloved mum when he was 15, in an incredibly public way, and as a result, has seemed to learn to take it slow and steady himself.  Harry has escorted a wounded soldier back from Afghanistan in a pointless war that hasn't ended.  He might be kind of a doofus, but he seems like that guy you knew in high school who screwed stuff up and partied a bit too much but ultimately was someone you could call if you had a flat tire on a rainy day.   Catherine seems committed to being a good person, and she is not a blushing virginal bride sucked into the abyss of breeder-hood and naive lies.  I actually don't know that much about her, to be honest, but the fact that the couple lived together, that her mom seems to be a pretty damned tough cookie who took her family from coal miner to Royalty in three generations is pretty fucking impressive. 

I don't know what they will do with their power, but in the prayer that they wrote, they seem committed to being good public servants.  I hope they will live up to what they asked today.
God our Father, we thank you for our families; for the love that we share and for the joy of our marriage.

In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy.
Strengthened by our union help us to serve and comfort those who suffer. We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.
There is a good lesson to be learned in that prayer.  Whether you are British or not, whether you are an anti-establishment type or not.  Whether you are Christian, Buddhist, Atheist.  We should all strive to: Serve.  Love.  Focus on what is real.  Share Joy and Love.  Appreciate your family.  Be generous.  Comfort others. 

In that light, why would I NOT want to watch a day of parties and joy, whether I am British, Martian, or what?


The Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin said...
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