I think my colleague Robert Schlesinger got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. His grouchy 6 a.m. post slamming the “torturous buildup” and “absurd coverage” of the royal wedding was a little Bah Humbug-y. Maybe it’s a guy thing. All the women in our house were up at 5 a.m., drinking English breakfast tea and checking out the hats. (Did you see the one Victoria Beckham was wearing?) We loved The Dress, thought Harry was cuter than William, enjoyed the choir of men and boys, and thought the flower girls stole the show.
On a broader level, though, even the most hard-hearted among us have to admit that this is a great moment for Britain. “The torch has been passed to a new generation” kept coming to mind, especially when the queen’s carriage was waiting in line behind the newlyweds’, and when she stood discreetly off to the side on the royal balcony. It’s like watching a government transition in super slow motion. Hopefully she’ll skip Prince Charles and speed up the coronation of William after her Diamond Jubilee, to make a statement about the modern monarchy and where the country is heading. I’m sure the fact that her favorite grandson is marrying the daughter of entrepreneurs is not lost on her, nor is the fact that Will and Kate are the most charismatic yet community-oriented members of the family. I think it’s great that the newlyweds are forgoing gifts from guests and encouraging donations to charity. They are the perfect ones to carry a modern Britain into the 21st century and have the potential to be a real force for good in the world. Exhibit A is the prayer they wrote for the wedding service themselves:
God our Father, we thank you for our families; for the love that we share and for the joy of our marriage. In the busyness of each day, keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy. Strengthened by our union, help us to serve and comfort those who suffer. We ask this in the spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.
As the crowds moved politely toward the royal balcony to catch the first kiss, I thought of similar scenes from the last six months, of crowds rushing across public squares. I thought of Neda, the Iranian woman killed on the streets of Tehran, of the Egyptian protestors who faced gunmen on horses and camels in Tahrir Square, of the many Libyans and Syrians who have died of gunshot wounds in public protests after being fired upon by their own police. You can say a lot of things about the British monarchy, but “unstable tyranny” isn’t one of them. In many ways, the new era that today’s events symbolizes—a moment in time when a young happy couple can live a life of service to others in a nation that, although it faces its share of economic challenges, is prosperous and free—is what so many around the world are seeking. There’s a reason billions of people worldwide tuned in this morning. And it wasn’t to say Bah Humbug.