First off, yes, I know it’s a yarp title. But it was either that or “Don’t Wed On Me” and THAT one looks like I might just be writing about someone’s bladder control problem.
I’ve whinged and carped about this wedding for two weeks now over on Facebook and I couldn’t believe myself when, around 4:00 yesterday I started to feel like maybe I wanted to watch the thing anyway. I’ve been really homesick for London, though, and as pretentious as that sounds it’s a real thing to anyone whose ever been bitten by The Great Smoke Bug. A couple of days ago a friend posted her pictures of the West End theatres to Facebook and I tried my level best to pull a Tom Riddle’s Diary and fall into them. Didn’t work, so I girded my loins, set my TiVo and admitted my shame.
There was vacillation this morning but the pain that normally has me up at that time of dight (4:00am…what would you call that?) won over cozy bed and truculence and so I watched it. To be specific I watched the ceremony. It was weird because I turned on the TV just as it started and then went back to bed right before the big Balcony scene.*/**
I couldn’t watch without comparing the experience to waking up early in the summer of 1981 and watching Diana marry Charles on our Faux wood console TV with the grainy antenna reception of Channel 21. I was 11 that day and so enchanted by the thought of princesses and eternal love and romance that I’d written a pile of poems dedicated to Diana, had my hair cut like her and lobbied to name our new puppy after her. (“Lady” outlived not only my interest in the Princess but also their marriage.)
Today I was torn between the jaded woman who had seen just how much of True Love can be manufactured to sell commercials and the wife who believes that sacramental covenant marriage is one of God’s greatest gifts and blessings. As I told my friend Jenni yesterday, I like the idea that her little girls will get a taste of romance that may encourage them to cherish a marital relationship. So I went into it a bit less cynical than normal.
Three things happened.
One, the anchorwoman said that Kate was “following tradition” going to send her bouquet BACK TO THE ABBEY TOMORROW to be laid on the tomb of the unknown warrior. When Elizabeth the Queen Mother did that unexpectedly it was a mark of respect for her fallen brother and her fallen countrymen and signified that she was first and foremost an Englishwoman. And she knelt at the tomb on the way out of the church to place her own bouquet. Shipping back after all the photos are taken and you’re good and done with it is an empty gesture robbed of any significance.
Two, the minster’s address talked about “reverence for the earth” with Jesus Christ as sort of a school fight song. It was Christian-y enough for a church but worldly enough for a crowd of hip young people. Then he prayed for Kate to be “amiable” as a wife. It all seemed token-spiritual. I was suddenly glad of the deeply religious ceremony we had, where we were clearly bonded to Christ as the center of our marriage.
But the thing that made me tear up and wish I had a flag to wave was when they concluded the ceremony by singing “God Save The Queen.” Maybe it’s Chernow’s Washington colouring my perspective, or maybe it’s that lifelong crush on Abraham Lincoln. Or maybe, just maybe it’s my blood running too thickly libertarian. But as they sang that song I recited the Gettysburg address out loud. And as romantic as the idea of a huge wedding in Westminster abbey was to the 11 year old back in Indiana, that idea of a nation conceived in LIBERTY and dedicated to the proposition that All Are Created Equal, springing to life out of the minds of Locke and Mill and Paine and Jefferson and the ground consecrated by the blood of those who believed in a government of, by and for the people…that idea made my heart sing.
*Boo Hiss to Comcast/Xfinity for not having got the BBC America HD channel up and running for this. I had to watch the thing on E! Online where two women wouldn’t shut up about the dress. It was white and long. Beyond that anything else is too much inside dressball for me.
** Unless someone is belting out an aria about the country not crying for them I am done with Balcony Scenes.