Today's news is full to the brim of the royal wedding (unhappily sans Fred Astaire
). I must admit I have gotten a little fed up with the matter, but not as much as I had expected. I remember the feeling of horror when the news first broke, as I envisaged months and months of sugar-coated wedding news obscuring anything important happening in the world. Now, it may be that I read the right kind of papers (or that my internal censor has been very effective), but that hasn't really been a problem.
As Private Eye
illustrates, the news has been as much critical as sugary. Both are problematic, of course. Ideally I would like to argue that it has little relevance, and so it is a little silly to spend so much time discussing every little detail. I do recognise, however, that the main point of having a monarchy is to be able to obsess about minor details and feel the nation come together in the feeling of having some stake in what happens. I get the impression British people have positive and negative opinions on the wedding -- but in much the same way as they would with regard to a family wedding. That, and they like the excuse to hold a street party and put up bunting.
I will also admit to a part of me that finds the whole thing fascinating. Royalty always has that effect. Mainly when they are long dead and you can have fun with family trees and historical events, but there is a distinct feeling of proximity to that sort of history -- which is much more fun than the sort of proximity to history that can get you blown up.
I see no point picking today in particular to criticise, at any rate (I am contrary at times, but I hope I have some common sense -- or if not, a vestigial sense of decorum). I did, however, reserve the right to spend the day working in an empty café instead of watching the wedding this morning. I also appreciated the Guardian's republican option
(that said, I maintain that you do not have to be a republican in order to find read news more interesting than the horror of the bridesmaid's white dress
-- although I am not sure that helps, when the news consists of football, more Trump
nonsense and a list of top 10 ice cream places
There are a few things to be said, however.
One: I now expect my grandmother to provide me with a title on my wedding day. the more I think about it, the more I am convinced it is a very nice wedding present. Hertuginne Camilla av Bjørkholt has a nice ring to it. Almost as cool as being a Duchess of Cambridge. I was also surprised to learn that William did not already have a proper title, and that the Wales one is merely a derivative of his father's. It is a title that was given to no less than four of the sons of James II & VI Stuart (when he was still Duke of York), all of which died young (and two of which, interestingly, were called Charles -- the things you learn), and also the future George II when his father was not yet king, so this is not the first time it has been given to the grandson of the reigning monarch.
He is also now the Earl of Strathearn (in Scotland, and because it is in such a strange place, the alternative title is "Mormaer of Strathearn", which sounds much cooler and might come with magic powers). And Baron Carrickfergus, which isn't really as grand as the other two, but which will come with a loch of some sort if there is any poetry in the world.
Two: I see Ms Middleton, now Duchess of Cambridge, followed in the footsteps of Victoria, going for white British lace. I am not sure whether there is much British lace industry to save, but she used a British designer, at least. Even I knew beforehand that she was going to wear Alexander McQueen (and that that it is not actually Alexander McQueen, because he is dead), and I am fairly sure anyone who calls me fashion conscious will probably die laughing.
Victoria & Albert, 1840
More importantly: the hats! The hats! I hope notes are being taken in preparation for my wedding by all involved. I will be severely disappointed if nobody shows up with something like what Zara Philips
or The Duchess of Cornwall
wore today. I will, however, forgive Karoline if she does not wear a copy of Princess Beatrice's
Three: I liked the fact that they drove away on their own in an Aston Martin. The Aston Martin, in my world, is one of three cars one is allowed to drive.
Four: Cake! While wedding cakes are evil, and I have nightmares about this sort of monstrosity
, I will admit that this
is the most sinful-and-delicious-looking monstrosity I have ever coveted.
Five: They have it easy.
This is the main reason why I decided to write about this today. People keep bringing up how horrible Diana was treated, and it is rather shocking how we still keep one family as slaves (albeit pampered ones) or pets or some other word I am searching for but not finding. However.
They have it easy. Not only are they allowed to marry for love, they have had 10 years to get to know each other. When Victoria married Albert, she had had 4 years to get to know him, although his first and second visits were three and a half years apart. Still, Victoria and Albert were fairly happy. She even got to choose whom to marry.
When Marie Antoinette married was set to marry Louis, she was 12 and he was 14; they broke her teeth in order to make them more appealing; and she was married by proxy before even meeting her husband-to-be (with her brother as the "bridegroom". And that was just the wedding.
Mary Stuart (Queen of Scots) was set to marry Henry VIII's son Edward when she was six months old. Once the Scots backed out, Henry set about with what is known as the "rough wooing", trying to enforce it. She was then sent to France, at 5, to marry the Dauphin. Which she did at 16.
Catherine of Aragon was sent to England to marry Arthur, Prince of Wales (son of Henry VII) because her English Lancaster heritage would make the Tudors more secure on the throne (this was not long after the War of the Roses, after all). She, too, was married by proxy at 13, corresponded in Latin with her husband-to-be for a couple of years, married him, found they could not communicate because their respective Latin was pronounced in different ways, lost him within a year only to be handed over to his brother to be his
wife and then get cast off when she did not produce a son.
As I was saying ....
Anyway. Congratulations all around.