Friday, 22 April 2011

The Royal Wedding

For another year now, the weather in Spring, here in the UK, is better than the norm.  Normally the temperature should be around fifteen degrees (centigrade) yet with all the gorgeous sunshine and the light breezes the temperature has been as high as twenty eight degrees.  But it's not the unseasonably lovely weather which is bringing hundreds of thousands of tourists to London in April.  On the 29th April, Prince William (second in line for the throne) will be marrying Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey.

A Royal wedding has, historically, been good for the morale of the British public.  Even those who have been trying to abolish the Monarchy lighten up a little and enjoy the pomp and circumstance of the occasion.  Normally I would add a quip about not getting married and all the normal jokes that abound about marriage, but on this occasion I'll forfeit that pleasure.

London is already being prepared for the wedding.  Banners and flags adorn the streets, Londoners are preparing street parties and the tourists are flooding in, paying the exorbitant prices that hoteliers are charging for rooms.  In the shops the shelves are being filled with the usual tacky memorabilia from mugs with the faces of the happy couple, to other pieces or crockery and tableware as well as stationary and whatever else manufacturers can paste a photograph on.  Even numismatics (or coin collectors) can get a piece of the action as the Royal Mint has produced numerous coins ranging from common metal to gold and platinum for the Royal wedding.

As I write this, it is Good Friday, a religious day and yet Easter has practically been forgotten with the exception of the children who care not that another couple are getting married as long as they get a fix of chocolate in the shape of an egg or a rabbit!  Ok, the UK has long been on the road to irreligion, a significant majority of white british being indifferent toward any faith.  Yet, if you travel to Westminster Abbey any time this week, you will find a plethora of people milling around and taking pictures; posing where they think the happy couple will stand when they emerge from the church.

Around the city there are people at work erecting platforms from which the television crews will broadcast all parts of the occasion in glorious High Definition.  It has been estimated that the audience for this wedding could be in the region of three billion, almost half the worlds population.  Such is the attraction of the British Monarchy and weddings capture the personal and romantic side of a family that rarely show their personal side to the public.  The police and other agencies are, no doubt, having a headache over the security arrangements as such a public and high profile occasion.  Since the atrocities in 2001 in the USA and London in 2005, the fear of a successful terrorist attack on something such as this must play heavily in their minds.

The last major Royal Marriage was back in 1981 when Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer.  This was another great occasion that gripped the nation yet the controversy and the death of Lady Diana soon extinguished any lasting memories of the occasion and questions arose over why they were married to begin with.  The more recent marriage of Prince Charles to Mrs Parker Bowles was, in contrast, a quiet affair that caused more controversy and is more remembered for the questionable right for a member of the Royal Family to marry in a civil ceremony as uncovered legislative documents from 1956 and 1964 state that is was not lawful for members of the Royal Family to marry in a civil ceremony.

Although dismissed by Lord Falconer, the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs and Lord Chancellor, the second marriage of Prince Charles cast a dim light upon the Royal Family as a whole, the only exceptions being the two children of the late Princess of Wales, William and Harry (although Prince Harry has managed to cause some controversy of his own!).  The Royal Family has had a hard time since the death of Diana and conspiracy theories have only dragged this situation out, longer than it should have.

I expect that with the marriage of Prince William and Catherine (formerly known as Kate but the powers that be would rather she be known as Catherine as it sounds more regal) the Royal Family is hoping that the exaggerated ill will directed at them since the death of Diana will finally be expunged.  William has always been popular with the people and Kate Middleton has come from an 'ordinary' family.  This isn't an arranged marriage and the fact that a 'commoner' is marrying into Royalty has been the dream of millions of young women around the world.  In some aspects, people will consider this a fantasy come true and there is no doubt that they will be envious and ecstatic at the same time.  The wedding is set to be a fantastic event and one in which the Royal Family will be cast in a good light (which is long overdue) and the festive spirit will continue long after the two newlyweds have left the Abbey.

In the background to all of this, emerging from the woodwork, are the far flung relations to Kate Middleton who will soon be related to Royalty.  Some take it with good grace, happy to see a relation (of whom they knew very little about until now) fall in love and get married.  Others have appeared on television and expect that they should become more privileged because their distant relation has become a princess.  It's disturbing and highly amusing at the same time.  I think that, for some, it is in their nature to crave a higher status than what they have managed to achieve for themselves.  It is likely that in the future we may hear more from these relations as they hit the headlines as a result of some questionable act or another.  I only hope that the media don't smear Catherine as a result although I think that this is highly unlikely.

The 29th of April is going to be another day in history and hopefully one that is remembered for a happy occasion.  The wedding will be regarded as a joyous event around the globe and London will be crowded with people hoping to catch a glimpse of them as they pass by.  I sincerely hope that the two will be happy with each other for the rest of their lives and that the media doesn't pry and probe into every aspect of their personal lives.  I know that the media and manufacturers are already planning for the first child born of the couple and that, for me, is sad.  It shows that they are not participating in the occasion but planning and speculating on the lives of two young people.

I guess that is the price you pay for being royalty.  I don't think it's fair and I would think that neither would they (Kate having already complaining of being harassed by the media).  The media?  Well they don't really care either, for them it's all about selling papers and attracting viewers.  Sad, isn't it?

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