Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Wedding

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last several months, you may have heard that there is a wedding coming up on Friday, April 29 in London. Yup, Wills and Kate ... oops, make that Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton (soon to be Princess Catherine will tie the knot at 11:00 AM London time.

The couple have been dating off but mostly on for several years and last fall he finally proposed to her. The wedding details have slowly been trickling out ever since. Some are based on speculation and other tidbits have been released by the palace.

One thing I have to give them credit for is to start a charitable gift registry. They have selected a number of charities that have a special meaning to them and asked people to donate to those rather than to give them a gift. Wise choice. After all, how many crock pots and blenders can one couple use? Especially a couple with the deep pockets such as theirs.

I guess I should make a confession here. I have nothing against the Royals, it’s just that I am not a fan of Royalty or the pomp and ceremony that goes with it. My grandmother thought very highly of the Queen and the Royal family and tried to instil that awe and respect in me. To a point it worked – for awhile anyways.

When I was about ten, Princess Anne and some other Royals were in Canada. She visited my home town and I was there in the crowd. I don’t remember much of it but I do recall she wore a light blue dress and I was within arm’s reach of her. Big deal right? No, I didn’t really see what all the fuss was about. Years later, my mom and I were having lunch at a restaurant here in the city and everyone kept watching out the window. We asked what was going on and were told that the Queens motorcade would be passing shortly. Someone finally said it was coming, so everyone in the restaurant (including us) ran out onto the boulevard to wave at the Queen. Whoopee! A fleeting glance of an old woman wearing a hat as she is driven by in a big black car. Everyone was thrilled. I just wanted to go finish lunch.

In most respects, I’ve never really understood the whole Royal thing. I know that Royalty has had their importance in the past but the whole concept of Royalty, pomp and privilege due to birth or through marriage just seems so outdated and wrong. There is so much more that could be done with the money spent on or by them. Sure they do charity work and make money for charities by appearing or lending their name but it all seems so fake and so removed from the realities of the average person.

There are so many rules and regulations they have to live by. Some call it privilege but in many ways it is an oppression as their life is not really their own. You almost never see the women wearing the same outfit twice yet countless people around the world are homeless, hungry and in dire need of even a tiny fraction of what is handed to the Royals on a proverbial silver platter because of the family they were born or married into.

In the days when my grandmother was such a fan, the goings on behind the palace walls were well guarded. The biggest scandal to reach the outside was the abdication of King Edward so that he could marry the love of his life – a divorcee named Wallace Simpson who ... gasp ... was a commoner and also an American!

Times have changed a lot in the almost thirty years since my grandmother passed. She saw the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer but not much more. Royal scandals have become a regular event.

What she didn’t see, was how the Royal family pretty much closed their collective eyes to the myriad of cheating spouses and the ever increasing scrutiny of the press and paparazzi. She didn’t see how Diana was thrown to the wolves as it were for being human. Diana was in way over head even before the wedding but tried her darnedest to live up to the Royal expectations.

Diana was the one who finally put a human face to the proverbial “stiff upper lip” of the Royals. She was one of the first celebrities to reach out to those with AIDS. She tried to teach her boys that there is more to life than being a Royal.

In many ways, she seems to have succeeded in that respect. William and Harry have both stepped out in their own way from behind the sheltered life of the Palace. From what I have seen and read, they seem to be far more aware of what is really going on outside in the real world. Their mother would be proud. Too bad the Windsor’s hadn’t shown her the same respect and acceptance before, during and after her marriage to Charles. Even in her death, her humanity and her spirit were all but ignored by the Royals. Okay, they did eventually make a few statements but it was too little too late for most of the fans to truly accept the sincerity of it.

Now, it is many years later. A few more scandals, divorces and such have passed. The Queen mum has died. Andrew and Sarah have divorced. Charles finally married his real love Camilla (she wasn’t deemed worthy to be his wife all those years ago before Diana). Another Royal wedding is about to take place. Prince William is second in line to the throne after his father Prince Charles.

William has been doing his best to prepare and yet also protect his lady love and her family from the prying eyes of the often vulturous media. Over the last few weeks, they have made several public appearances to ... ahem ... feed the media beast. In the hope that this will quell their hunger to devour her as they did his beloved mother. Only time will tell if the plan works.

Alas, the hype in the lead up to the big day has only increased. England has declared the wedding day as a holiday in the hope that the people will come out in throngs to celebrate. Tens of thousands of Royal watchers from Great Britain and around the world are expected to descend on the city to watch the processions for even a glimpse of the bride and/or groom. The souvenir market is overflowing with tacky kitsch ... both Palace endorsed and the fake. Media outlets around the world are planning and promoting extensive coverage.

Here in North America, the major networks are starting coverage early – REAL early! There is a six hour time difference between London and here in Winnipeg. Our networks are starting the coverage at 2:00AM central. They will cover the arrival of the commoners, the dignitaries and the celebrities. The wedding itself and of course any other mundane or minute detail they unearth.

Needless to say, there will be those who get up or stay up all night just to say they saw it live. Many will PVR/DVR/TIVO the whole thing to watch at a more reasonable hour. Most will likely watch the (no doubt) endless ad nauseam rehash of coverage online or on TV later in the day.

As for me, the only reason I’ll be up that early is to answer a call from Mother Nature! Otherwise, I’ll be in dreamland catching some zzz’s! There will be ample coverage later that I can ignore.

It won’t be easy, but they seem to have it far more together than other Royals and newly Royal who have gone down this path. I really do wish the happy couple well. I think they are going to need all the luck they can get.


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