A Royal Wedding

What is it about royal weddings? Is it the guest list? The wedding dress?  The pomp and circumstance?  Is it a renewal of childhood dreams and fantasies? I mean, what little kid doesn’t have dreams of being a prince or a princess? But not too many American’s get this excited about dynastical marriages in the other 30 monarchies of the world…

Is it because the new Duchess of Sussex is an American who married a prince? I think that’s certainly part of it, though Princess Diana’s marriage to Prince Charles far outshone the marriage of American actress Grace Kelley’s marriage to the Prince Rainier III of Monaco, or when Lisa Halaby of Washington, DC, married the absolute monarch King Hussein of Jordan just four years before Princess Di’s marriage to an heir to a Constitutional Monarchy.

Oh, is it because the US and UK have such a shared history? After all, it was Harry’s 7th great-grandfather that used to rule what is now the United States, right?

  • George III
  • Louisiana Territory: Napoleon (or Charles III of Spain?)
  • Mexican Cession: Charles IV of Spain (or his brother Ferdinand, or the installed Joseph Bonaparte?)
  • Alaska: Alexander II
  • Hawaii: Queen Liliuokalani
  • Virgin Islands: Christian X of Denmark?

Oh, it must be the language then, right? That the British Royal Family speaks the same language as most Americans? That we can follow the ceremonies and the lives of these fabled few with lucky births instant fame and fortune? After all, not many of us know the members of the royal families, so why are we so many excited? Are we even this excited about weddings that we actually get invited to?

So, iit’snot really the idea of a royal wedding, it may or not be the commonality of language, I suspect that some of it may be the Anglo-American historical bias in the understanding of US history. And, speaking of history, Bishop Michael Curry reminded us of the sociological and historical significance of the dynastical marriage as well.

But at the end of the day, a young commoner married her prince. As I said earlier, what little kid doesn’t have dreams of being a prince or a princess? Megan Markle had a beautiful wedding; it was a beautiful wedding ceremony to watch. It was nice to put aside partisanship and to share common human experiences such as dreams of castles and crowns, as well as weddings and family celebrations.

So why id so many Americans watch the wedding in the early hours of the day? Why do so many Americans follow the British royal family? Because, I suspect, the British have maintained something that we have lost in the United States. The British have a common Head of State that transcends partisanship and ideology. The Brits leave that ugliness to the Head of Government and Parliament; but the royal family is a symbol of a national identity that American lacks. Perhaps the closest parallel the US has is the manner and regard with which we treat our former presidents. America has no royal family in Washington, no common head of a common religion, no agreed specific common cultural icon. So, from across the pond, we gaze upon a family that symbolizes a nation, a history, and an ideal. A family whose public events and speeches are about commonality not controversy, ideals not ideology, and values not vilification.

A wedding can be a magical moment, like a first date, or an inauguration. But marriages, relationships, and governance take work. Hard work. The wedding is over now, and soon the honeymoon will be too, It is time to focus on the next step, and bring some of that magic back into our everyday existence, with a little bit of hard work, focusing on what unites us as families, peoples and as humans.

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