A British-American bluestocking living in the UK writes about politics, pop culture, and emerging new paradigms as they unfold on both sides of the Atlantic. (New content.)

Friday, 29 April 2011

Presenting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Now We Can Get Back to Business As Usual)

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge 

(For all that I write about other subjects from this Big Island, it seems that all my postings on the Royals get the most hits. So, for all of you who cannot stand to hear about the monarchy...feel free to skip this. For the rest of you, carry on.  I cannot well ignore the biggest event of the year and probably the decade. It's not exactly a "glowing" over the top report...it's realistic. And frankly, folks, I love a nice wedding, anyone's wedding, so bear with me.)

It's done and over. The Prince has married a commoner (whatever that means, since none of us are commoners, truthfully, are we?) And now, everyone should be happy to have the monarchy in place for the next one hundred years, yes? Not quite. Three anti-monarchists who wanted to cut the head off Royal effigies were promptly arrested and carried off.  Not everyone is trippingly giddy on this day, though all of Great Britain has both Friday and Monday off as a national holiday. It seems that it has been the rule of thumb for the Royals....at the time of the worst recession, they wheel out a new wedding and distract the masses. It happened when the Queen married in 1947, when Princess Anne married in 1973, when Diana and Charles married in 1981...and now, with the marriage of William and Kate coming during one of the hardest economic dips of all time. If William had not married a commoner (who has been taken quickly to heart by the people of Great Britain)  the increasingly inappropriate behavior of most of the Royals would surely be called to task. It is obvious that William and Kate have set out to restore some dignity to an institution that is on its last legs. He needed Kate to help. He could not do it otherwise, really as the whole of Great Britain is no longer enchanted with the idea of  a monarchy. William has accomplished a PR coup that even the grey men at the Palace could not have pulled off....he fell in love with a regular girl. In the "old" days, rulers would marry their children to other rulers children to seal peace between families. Today, the uneasy relationship between the monarchy and the increasingly dissenting British citizenry has been sealed with his marriage to "just an ordinary girl". Well, an ordinary girl whose forebears were wealthy wool merchants who left a legacy that enabled their descendants to live well and enabled Kate to attend the 28k a year Marlborough College where she made the "right connections" to enable her to sashay out of obscurity and into the limelight. In the background,  her parents busily established a million dollar mail order business. (Not exactly the girl who worked at Dairy Queen and paid her way through school....but in the world of pomp and circumstance, this is as ordinary as one can get.)  But has this marriage between a Royal and a non-Royal appeased the masses enough to stop them from noticing the skyrocketing taxes, the lack of employment, the wars raging in the Middle East and the rising cost of petrol? Hardly. But for one day or two, the Brits can get off work, get resoundingly plowed and forget.

Years ago, when a graduate student living in Cambridge, I woke up at five in the morning and took out my tiny black and white TV and was glued to the screen to watch the wedding of Charles and Diana. I was young and idealistic and the problems of the world had not quite landed on my shoulders nor on the shoulders of my generation. We saw a girl of our age marrying a prince of another age. It seemed like a true fairytale. But we had no idea that Diana was suffering in silence, knowing that her Prince was in love with someone else.

Not so this time. William and Kate have been together for a decade. In today's ceremony, the couple seemed like they had been married for a long time. They had an ease with each other and it was in stark contrast to the wedding of William's parents three decades ago. Diana was really still a child. She had only seen Charles thirteen times before she married him. Kate, on the other hand, had actually lived with William for most of a decade (though it was kept very quiet.)  Diana (in her  "Panorama" interview with Martin Bashir which sealed her fate) talked about how she hoped that William would be made the next King (skipping Charles) as she thought Charles wasn't quite made for the job. If what we have witnessed in the last months (his grace, kindness and thoughtfulness) she may well have been correct. If this antiquated system of rule by birthright must continue, William seems to be a much more palatable and unpretentious monarch than his father. And while his father has done a lot of good in the preservation of architecture and the cultivation of natural foods and the environment, he really is absolutely disconnected from the "common folk". He hasn't a clue how other people really live. And has never cared to know. Though his Prince's Trust generates millions for charity, and he is generous in that way, he has not been able to truly forge a following. It isn't a secret that he was jealous of Diana's increasing attention when they went about on "walkabouts".  William is the antithesis of his father. He attracts crowds and he is well-loved. He is, truly, Britain's son.  And no Royal has ever garnered that moniker. And this is entirely because of his mother's influence.

And now....to the
ceremony....
The wedding was beautiful, understated, perfect. The dress was stunning and simple and designed by Sarah Burton, the designer for Alexander McQueen (who died so tragically last year. I was pleased with that choice because his genius truly deserved this posthumous recognition.) I glimpsed the dress as it sailed out of the Goring Hotel and knew immediately it was in the style of Grace Kelly. As someone who loves vintage dresses, I was very impressed with the choice. Kate looked composed and a pro and William spent most of his time attempting not to break out in one big great grin. At the altar, when she joined him, he said to her "You look beautiful." (I can read lips...so that helped.) In that stolen moment, I saw the great difference between this marriage and the one from three decades ago. He paid his bride a heartfelt compliment. Having lived in Britain for almost a decade, I can tell you that's not often uttered, not  from a true British man's lips. And to take the time to say that at the most nerve-wracking moment...well, William went up a few notches in my book. William and Kate were dignified and calm with a bit of playfulness at times. It was all quite sweet. There was the perfunctory kiss on the balcony (introduced by William's parents) and then, one more kiss to seal the deal.. The crowds were happy. All is well with the world. (Not really, but it's easy to distract the masses at times.) 

Let's get this straight. The support is not so much for the monarchy on this happy day. As much as the Palace insiders are wishing that. The support today is for William , the boy that the country adopted when his mother was taken in such a tragic way. And for Kate, the girl that didn't come from aristocracy. But overall, the support is also for the late Diana who nurtured and shaped her sons into being more normal and loving young men, rather than potentates who live in ivory towers. The Palace has attempted to erase her from history, but her presence has been felt palpably at this ceremony as it is her charisma, her grace and her ease with strangers who live so strongly in William.  Charles is still part of the "old guard", a bit of an effete snob, out of touch with the masses (though gracious in private). William is the "new guard" the Royal who slept on the streets with the homeless, who cleaned toilets in Patagonia and who is so self-effacing and amiable. Is this the face of the new monarchy? Many of us hope it is the face of the last monarch, or the monarch who will decide that this whole system is archaic, outdated and will decide it is time to dismantle it all.

A pipedream, you think?  William, if given a chance, will surprise us all. He is, after all, his mother's son, too...and probably more so as an adult. Giving Kate his mother's ring was one sign of his connection to her. It is such an iconic item and while there was consternation as to its lamentable history, perhaps it will be resurrected as a ring of hope and not of despair. 

And as for Diana, who succumbed to the machinations of a system that she courageously blew the whistle on, she is still very, very much alive despite the attempted re-writing of history and despite the fact that the Palace continues to paint her as a villain. That charisma that lives in William is not from the Saxe-Coburg-Gothas (the name of the family before they attempted to erase their own Germanic roots and adopted the name, Windsor). That charisma and kindness of heart is from Diana and  from the Stuarts and the Spencers. It is well-known that the Spencers had closer ties to true royalty than the present Royals who are considered to be usurpers. Oh, the intrigue of it all. And the senselessness of it all. And the ridiculousness of it all. How a country that is constantly flogging its socialist agenda still tolerates a monarchy is beyond me and one of the strangest bedfellows. It's time to let all that old paradigm be put to rest. (And the socialism, too, as it has bred terrible apathy.) And by the way, all blood is blue, after all, isn't it? 

William and His Mother Diana
But for today, Diana's memory lives in her firstborn son who may well have a mind of his own. May the apple that doesn't fall too far from the tree put the archaic paradigm to rest as we enter into a new age where everyone is sovereign...and equal. The demise of the monarchy is near. But it will not be put down by a revolution. It may well be gently laid to rest by a young man who says, "Enough is enough." (If he is allowed to be so bold.) I look forward to that day. For now, I wish the couple well...and the precious true love in marriage that eluded William's mother. With the early tragedy in his life, he deserves that bit of joy...and so does his bride.