Today, like millions of Americans, I got up at the insanely early hour of four a.m. to watch the royal wedding. I’m not, by the way, a morning person.
My husband, who was disgusted by the whole thing, thought I was nuts. Especially when he saw the special headband I bought (see photo).
“What the hell is that thing on your head?”
“Um, a headband?” I answered, thanking God that I didn’t buy an actual hat.
“What are you, five? Do you think you’re a guest at the royal wedding?”
No. But I’d like to be.
“What purpose do those people serve in life in this day and age? What do they do?”
My brother oh so helpfully pointed out that we fought a war to get rid of the monarchy over two hundred years ago so I shouldn’t care.
But I do care. I care a lot.
I’ve been a committed Anglophile since my first lesson in British history at the age of six or seven.
My love affair could have started because I share a name with two famous queens and secretly wanted to wear a crown, or at least go by Lady Elizabeth. And like many little girls, I may have been seduced by Walt Disney into believing a tiara was the route to happiness and that Prince William was a real-life fairy tale prince. Who can say?
I’ve read almost every biography of every British monarch and aristocrat that I could find since about the age of eight—with many, many works of historical fiction and romances thrown into the mix as well. I love to think about what they were like, what they thought and wore and ate, and how they influenced their times.
And then I spend the summer between my sophomore and junior years in college studying at Cambridge, and I was just awe-inspired. I walked down the same streets as Marlow and Milton and Wordsworth. I went to Shakespeare’s house and to Jane Austen’s, which to an English major was no small thing.
(Here’s a slideshow of my best shots from the trip. Unfortunately, they were taken with a manual camera and my photography skills have improved considerably in the past nine years. “The Rule” music is courtesy of Kevin McLeod at http://incompetech.com/.)
Not only were the castles, the churches and the countryside all stunningly beautiful, but also I could feel the history. Maybe it’s because we Americans have such a young country, but walking through, say, the Tower of London, I just knew that the old gray stones had seen many important and terrible things. Maybe that was just because I’ve read too much about Henry VIII and his unfortunate wives, however.
There’s an argument against monarchy right there, but I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing all of those lovely crown jewels here in the U.S. Even Jackie Kennedy looked pretty dowdy next to Queen Elizabeth II back in the Sixties, after all.
I love America, but we owe a lot of what makes us a great nation to our British heritage. We wouldn’t have little things like habeas corpus and our Bill of Rights if our founding fathers hadn’t had the Magna Carta and the English Bill of Rights as precedents. Heck, we wouldn’t have a country without the British.
So one day a generation, I’m proud to get dressed up and honor our friends across the ‘Pond.’ Not only is it a wedding (And who doesn’t love a wedding, especially one with an honest-to-goodness real tiara?), but it’s also about majesty…ceremony…tradition…history.
That I’ll celebrate.