An American’s take on the royal wedding: important or irrelevant?


By Robyn Belt

Come hell or high water, I was going to watch the Royal Wedding. On the eve of April 29, I set my alarm, somewhat grudgingly, for 4:45 a.m. to tune in to the coverage of the ceremony. Apparently, roughly two billion viewers had the same idea as I did. With a staggering two million tweets throughout the ceremony, and a new world-record for the largest viewership of a live-streamed event, Catherine Middleton and Prince William of Wales were ordained in holy matrimony in front of an audience of countless international spectators.

For pop-culture junkies, the royal wedding represented the stuff that dreams are made of. Such a momentous occasion, rivaled only by the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana in 1981, signifies a significant shift in power within the structure of the British monarchy.

Understanding this, albeit with an American sensibility, I sat in the company of the few friends willing to rise at that ungodly hour, with my eyes glued to the monitor breathing in each detail of the ceremony.

Yes, Kate Middleton did emulate a brunette Grace Kelly in her Sarah Burton gown. Yes, the prime minister’s wife bucked tradition by not wearing a hat inside Westminster Abbey. And yes, William looked nothing short of terrified as he proceeded down the aisle alongside Prince Harry.

However, the overarching question that many have asked themselves is: should I care? How does this consecrated union affect me politically, socially or even morally? The simple answer? It probably doesn’t.

There is the glaringly obvious fact that America does not operate under a monarchy. The British regime has historically subsisted on a convoluted network of lineage, bloodshed, acquired titles, and good-ol’-fashioned inbreeding. The introduction of a “commoner,” an individual of non-royal blood into the Windsor family, is a fairy tale in and of itself.

As Americans cannot fully understand monarchial law, there is a notable cultural divide in the wedding’s significance for those who watch among the streets of London and those who view it on their flat-screens at 4:45 a.m.

Despite this divide, I could enjoy the day for the magical qualities that is possessed. How often does a marriage of this magnitude rock the headlines? Call it hype if you will, but I tuned in with the enthusiasm of watching history as an international phenomenon.

I also tuned in for Kate Middleton’s “Princess Power.” Not only did this sweet and sensible media darling nab the future King of England, she did so with remarkable grace under extreme scrutiny. The newly-minted Duchess of Cambridge, Her Royal Highness Catherine is my living version of a princess Barbie. After all, what little girl doesn’t harbor ambitions of princess-hood?

In an age when world media is so often riddled with reports on strife, poverty and warfare, the Royal Wedding offered us a brief respite. In one of the more extraordinary human-interest stories, a 29-year old “commoner” walked into Westminster Abbey as Kate and emerged as Catherine, a true Princess of England.


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