The hoopla is almost identical to that July morning in 1981 when Prince Charles and Lady Diana got married. In fact, it’s that day but on steroids. Roughly 750,000,000 people watched Charles and Diana tie the knot. Will and Kate’s spectacle was watched by nearly 2 billion people. By the time you read this post, they will be man and wife — or prince and princess.
Back in 1981, I was close to Diana’s age and completely fascinated by the wedding. It was certainly a fairy tale in the traditional sense with the requisite young virgin, the older prince, and the longed-for happy ending. I got up early to watch it on TV that morning and continued to follow Diana over the years — her evolution from shy teenager to fashionable jet-setter, to her sad marriage and ultimate demise. It wasn’t much of a happy ending after all.
Her failed marriage was followed by another debacle with Charles’ brother Andrew and Sarah Ferguson. And many other royal marriages have ended in similar fashion, or they are shams of convenience and royal duty. Most marriages have a 50% chance of survival, and royal marriages probably have less chance for success. So why should we care about William and Kate if their odds for marital happiness are break even at best?
There are plenty of reasons not to care. Most of us aren’t even British. Plus, this wedding is costing the British people millions, not to mention the security issues and other inconveniences caused by the event. And it has certainly dominated the news lately. What is the point of the whole monarchy thing anyway?
But we do care. We care in a big, over-the-top way that dragged millions of us out of bed before dawn to watch it unfold. We care in a way that makes us read vapid articles about the wedding frenzy, buy commemorative Will and Kate coffee mugs, or entice us to “dress and look just like Kate.” Take a look at this bestseller on Amazon — a knock-off of Kate’s (formerly Diana’s) engagement ring!
Bling Jewelry Kate Middleton CZ Sapphire Royal Engagement Ring
Why do we care so much, even when we say we don’t? Because for all of the carnival atmosphere, exorbitant cost, and distraction, this wedding draws us to some of our deepest emotions, dreams, and connections.
The Power of Love
In spite of all of the failed marriages around us, we still believe in love. We are in love with love and find it intoxicating. And it’s more intoxicating to watch it played out before us between a prince and future princess. Prince Charles famously qualified his love for Diana by remarking, “Whatever ‘in love’ means.” From all appearances, it seems that Will and Kate know what it means.
Our Hopes and Dreams
Whenever we see a young couple get married, we are reminded of our own hopes and dreams. For love. For security. For happily ever after. For the woman or man who will share our lives and make our world a better place. In this Royal Wedding we see our dreams played out in high drama, with our roles being played by the beautiful princess or the handsome prince.
A Great Story
Who doesn’t love a great story, and this is smashing one. A modern prince who meets a commoner in his university dining hall. A long courtship with twists and turns and a few break-ups. A proposal in a rustic African cottage. A parallel to his own mother’s story thirty years earlier — but with the chance to do it right this time. Books have already been written about it!
Truth and Beauty
We love to look at beautiful people. Kate is stunningly beautiful and Will is tall and handsome enough. But it seems there is truth to their beauty — an inner beauty that shines through. It’s hard to know for sure, but they come across as genuine and kind. They seem approachable and down-to-earth in a way other royals haven’t figured out, except for Diana perhaps. Those qualities are more appealing than their outer beauty.
After several marriage failures, the Royals finally get a do-over — another chance to get it right. And we want to see them succeed. Things look more promising for Will and Kate. They’ve known each other for years. They’ve lived together and experienced the ups and downs of a normal relationship. Royal duties will certainly add a strain, but they seem well-matched. Fingers crossed!
A Sense of Community
We are part of something bigger than ourselves, and it draws us together. Great Britain isn’t experiencing this alone. The world is watching — billions of us! For one shining moment, we are kindred spirits sharing the joy of a happy occasion.
Those Brits know how to put on a spectacle. And the rest of the world is fascinated. Royal carriages, horsemen wearing furry hats, the Queen and her purse. It’s a throwback to an age that seems far removed but is now being acted out live on our iPhones and computers.
Let’s face it — we like an excuse to have a good time. This is as good an excuse as any. And why not? The world is with us. Every news station, every magazine, everybody is celebrating this wedding. I got up at 5:00 with my daughter (who name is Diana and who shares Diana’s birthday) to sip tea and watch the event live.
Traditions matter to us — they strengthen our sense of history and belonging. This may be a wedding of two young people in love, but it is also a royal occasion steeped in tradition. The heir to the heir of the British throne is doing what he’s supposed to do — marry and then procreate. And even thought this wedding wasn’t a state occasion, it still reflected the best of Royal traditions.
There is a war in Afghanistan. There’s a war in Libya. People are out of jobs. Record tornadoes have killed hundreds in the U.S. Bad news fills the headlines. But today we are distracted. Today two people in love, a prince and princess, have begun the first day of their happily-ever-after. Or so we can hope.
Best wishes to the happy couple!