Thursday, April 28, 2011

To Watch or Not to Watch?

Disclaimer: This post is intended as a tongue-in-cheek look at the ambivilence many Americans feel toward our British cousins.  I understand there are serious issues regarding the amount of media attention being poured into this topic, the contrasting tragedy in the tornado-ravaged southern U.S., and the inordinant amount of resources spent on this wedding. I get it. I also realize that the royal couple will have their wedding day despite what the rest of us do in response, so let's not get our knickers in a bunch. Keep calm and carry on, I say.

“God bless the King--I mean the faith's defender; God bless (no harm in blessing) the pretender;
But who the pretender is, or who is King--
God bless us all--that's quite another thing.”

- John Byrom

Queen Victoria -- Official Bridal Portrait
Franz Xaver, 1847, Oil on canvas

I'm so conflicted.

I've largely ignored all the the scrutiny surrounding the impending royal nuptials, but as the wedding day of Prince William and Catherine Middleton [whom we used to refer to as "Kate" but which is now, I hear, too familiar to use...really, would "Kate" ever find out I had called her "Kate"? I feel just rebellious enough to do it, being American and all] has approached, I must admit I've become drawn in.

The pomp and circumstance of all things royal is curious and quite fascinating to me. I can't help but find it both a little appealing and a little appalling.

Centuries of tradition, ettiquette, and pageantry seem romantic and more than a little comforting to me. In Great Britain, it seems one knows one's place, where one belongs, and how to comport oneself while there. (Good Gracious, I'm even beginning to speak the King's English.)

As an American, I see a world without a class system (ideally, somewhere, someday), and feel that "the institution of royalty in any form", as Mark Twain once said, "is an insult to the human race."

As an American, nothing we do in any official capacity goes back any further than two hundred, thirty-five years. We're mere newborns in the world's nations, and as such, weve barely begun to form our rules of ettiquette.

Who am I kidding? The way things have been going here in America lately, I don't see us getting around to the task of refining our rules of ettiquette any time soon.

See why I'm conflicted?

The prince and his bride seem like nice young people. She's even a "commoner," of all things.  Mabye the royal family is making progress in this class system thing. Probably not, but the two of them do make a lovely couple. 

Kate (ha! take that!) is a very beautiful young woman and will make a stunning bride in her top secret wedding gown.  William will doubtless be a more dashing version of his already dashing self.

I heard today that Westminster Abbey is being transformed into an enchanted forest for the ceremony. That sounds spectacular. And I do love horses. Lots of horses are expected to escort the entire bridal party to the Abbey. That beats a stretch SUV any day.

Mark Twain, who felt so strongly against royalty of any kind, wrote further on the subject in 1904, when he wrote this...

"...these are princes which are cast in the chaste princely mould, and they make me regret -- again -- that I am not a prince myself. It isn't a new regret, but a very old one. I have never been properly and humbly satisfied with my condition. I am a democrat only on principle, not by instinct -- nobody is that. Doubtless some people say they are, but this world is grievously given to lying."

Well then, that settles it. If it's good enough for Samuel Clemens, it's good enough for me. Count me in...I'll see you at the church at 3 a.m.

Mazel Tov, Bill and Kate!

The music selection for today is, of course, from the recently released official wedding program...

Many royal brides have not used traditional wedding processional music, but Catherine has selected "I was glad" by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry for her walk down the aisle. I'm sorry, friends, this might be majestic and beautiful music when heard live in Westminster Abbey, but the recordings of it seem heavy and dreary and oh-so-slow to me. No, that will never do.

Instead, I've chosen to post the newly married couple's recessional music, which is much lighter, though still not as lighthearted as we're used to in this country. Obviously, royal pomp and circumstance is still an aquired taste to me.

Here is William Walton's "Crown Imperial" which he composed originally for the coronation of King Edward VIII in 1937. Unfortunately, Edward abdicated the throne in 1936. Fortunately, his brother stepped in, and the coronation took place on the scheduled date, crowning George IV King of England. Whew...God Bless us All! 

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