Sorry to be the one to rain on the royal parade, but so much ado about…well, a stranger’s wedding.
Not too much ado, or “I do,” as it were, for a bride and groom, of course. Then again, in this case it may have been a bit excessive for a future king who is said to be uneasy with very public displays of affection, and there was plenty of public displaying plenty of affection for William and Kate.
Wedding days are so full of promise, despite ministers losing their contact lenses or brides showing up an hour late because they were shopping with girlfriends or having to buy a sheet cake from Safeway at the last minute because the cake-maker had inconveniently died. None of that happened, fortunately, and the wedding went off without a hitch-OK, with only one hitch, which was the point of the whole thing.
But the parade play-by-play and literally cheek-by-jowl analysis of the “Royal Kiss” balcony scene put me over the top. I was struck by how much the coverage on channel after channel seemed like nothing so much as the “Macy’s Wedding Day Parade,” with unending dither about every borrowed treasure and blue sash.
I concede I got up after a sleepless night, and on the wrong side of the bed (the cat would not keep still) and after the actual wedding portion, so the coverage of that might have been tastefully understated.
But what I tuned to made me quickly turn to Comedy Central for some hoots of perspective. Sadly, it was an infomercial for a hair-removal product apparently far preferable to, and safer than, the laser hair removal system being hawked on an adjacent channel.
“Nobody wants to spoil this moment,” said somebody on NBC, filling the time before “The Kiss” with discussions about how many seconds it would take and whether Kate would be upstage of William during the smack so they could get a better view of her tear-drop diamond earrings. I don’t want to spoil the moment either. So, take a moment. OK, the moment is over. I heard the comment that there was something understated about the event because “it is a recession and people are losing their jobs, so anything over-the-top would have been inappropriate.” I don’t know where the top is, but if this wasn’t close to it, nothing is.
But as I watched how happy everybody seemed to be, how proud of the pomp and the circumstance of the celebration the crowds were, I felt a bit of the Scrooge mantle lift. The dresses were beautiful; the ladies’ hats were, well, tall and at angles that defy gravity but not hairpins; the uniforms were so crisp and colorful in HD that it almost made you want to march off to war. OK, not so much.
And it was actually kind of sweet to watch the couple, chastised by TV commentators for short-changing the crowd with an initial peck, follow up with another kiss as the crowd below did their best imitation of a collective clink of butter knives on water glasses. “Are they going to give us a hat trick?” [or in this case, a “crown trick”] asked one commentator expectantly. No, but the twofer seemed to have satisfied the crowds. Someone likened the atmosphere to that of the ball dropping in Times Square on New Year’s, which put another light on it for me as well. We aren’t celebrating the sweep of a second hand at New Year’s, but our own joy in still being around to see another year. We aren’t celebrating a stranger’s wedding, but the fact we are still around to see a fairy tale we were denied two decades ago by subsequent events get a second chance.
OK, I just saw a replay of highlights of the wedding with the strains of “Jerusalem” in the background. The spirits have done it all in one morning and I am a convert.
We need splashes of bright color and unalloyed celebration, particularly when the life we have to return to often has a bunch of clouds, economic and otherwise. That was driven home to me by NBC’s appropriately jarring cut-in from its wedding coverage to the aftermath of the Alabama storms. “They are going to be bringing out cadaver dogs in Tuscaloosa,” the report began.
“Even the cynics among us have been wowed by this,” commented Matt Lauer on the wedding. “This is truly inspiring.” Inspiring wasn’t quite the right word. Inspiring was the U of A crew out after the tornadoes to help remove a tree from what used to be somebody’s living room. OK, I take even that back. Inspiring was just the right word for the palace fly-over by the World War II planes that helped preserve the country and the monarchy. OK, William isn’t a stranger either. Those of us who watched his father’s wedding to Diana Spencer and accepted that fairy tale at face value have had a rooting interest in him, particularly after he lost his mother so young.
So here’s to happy endings for our princes and princesses, and ourselves.