Thursday, April 28, 2011

Royal Wedding excitement--I'm trying to understand it.

I mean no sarcasm in this post at all. I'm trying to understand the American fascination with weddings of the royal family of England. I was in high school when Princess Di and, um, that one guy, got married. (I apologize--I really can't remember his name right now.) It was a big deal, even in America. Lots of people watched it, lots of commentary and specials.
   The same thing is happening now. I'm not following much of it. In fact, I'm not following any of it if I can help it, but because I turn on a television every once in a while, I can't help but see it.
   I think the couple are a nice man and a nice woman who are about to get married. I think that's great. I'll even apply the word "awesome" to it, for that's what love is.
   Sociology was a big part of my major, so I'm watching this pre-wedding stuff with the interest of a social scientist and a desire to make some semblance of sense out of it. I'm not afraid to admit I will probably never understand the whole "who is making the dress?" and "Who has been invited" bits of the puzzle.
  I'm particularly interested in the American fascination with the royal family (some call them "The Royals"). Didn't we fight a revolution in order to get out from under the thumb of a king (who, if you read many histories, doesn't sound like that bad of a guy when one looks in the rearview mirror)?
   Looking for a conclusion or two? You won't get them here. All I have is some speculation regarding the Question of American Interest in Royal Weddings. So here goes:
  • We do not, nor will we ever, have a Royal Family. We have Presidents. Sometimes their kids get married, and it's a big deal. Our collective interest in those is not nearly as big as it is in the royal stuff. I think it's because we're too familiar with our Presidents and their families for us to cloak them in mystique. We see them on the campaign trail, sweating, giving speeches in the rain, squeezing flesh, etc. They are--whether we like them or not--people.
  • The Royal Family is different from our American "first family" (a term I kind of like, but for reasons I don't understand) in that they are born into the family or marry into it. They're born with the weight of the monarchy on their shoulders, as well as all the glitz and glamor. I think it's a weight, frankly, because I'd be willing to bet their hands are tied more than they are free. I don't think this couple could have run off to Vermont for a wedding without risking severe retribution from Her Majesty or a cabbie from London.
  • We'll have great seats at the wedding and will see a show unlike anything we can put on here outside of Hollywood. Big church, lots of people, real jewels...shiny stuff. Lots and lots of shiny stuff. And small reminders that England was a Kingdom long before the letter "J" appeared in the English alphabet... Actually, that family is older than the current alphabet. How's that for history?
  • And one final stab at yet another reason we Americans like royal weddings: We don't have to second guess anything. Liking him or her or the Queen isn't political for us. We can, if we choose, just sit back and watch the show without fear of having to defend ourselves to someone from a different political party.
 Now that I've put all that out there, I'll confess this much: I probably won't watch the wedding for longer than 15 minutes, if that. I'd like to see her walk up the aisle just so I can catch a glimpse in digital television, of the church and the jewels, and the bright shiny stuff. Then I'll flip to something else and watch that. 

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