Taking A Stand Against The Royal Wedding

By , April 28, 2011 9:34 pm

Despite all the media hype and coverage of the Royal Wedding between Prince William and Catherine Middleton, I’m not going to get up in the middle of the night to watch it. I’ll watch the clips later, at a reasonable Eastern Daylight Time (emphasis on daylight). I’m interested, but not wake-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night interested.

I bring up my moderate interest in the wedding because of the very extreme ways people are reacting to the wedding. There is the news media who are going over the top with coverage. It’ll be interesting to see if they’ll feel it was worth the expense and effort when it’s all over.

But then there are the folks at the other end of the interest spectrum. Not the people who shrug off this real-life over-the-top reality show like they would shrug off a made-for-TV over-the-top reality show. This is anger. Check out Lawrence O’Donnell on “The Last Word:”

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First: The TV networks “obviously would have been on the side of the British” in the Revolutionary War. Huh? And second: The “British Crown has spilled more blood around the world and caused more oppression and suffering in the world than any other regime still standing”? History should never be forgotten, but why is O’Donnell still fighting a war we won over two centuries ago against a country that is one of America’s closest allies?

Yes, the British Empire was involved in the slave trade and the oppression of Indians, and the conflict in Northern Ireland is still unsettled. But every country, including the U.S., has done bad things as a matter of policy. Every country is a glass house. O’Donnell shouldn’t throw stones.

And then there’s Mark Oppenheimer flexing his “American-ness” in Slate. He says one reason for American Anglophilia is the theory that people who are oppressed by a country “internalize the message of the oppressor” and end up loving it. “The child who rejects his mother often loves her more than the child who simply drifts away.” Then he says:

If American royal-worship were confined to this twisted pathology of self-loathing, or to buying newsstand copies of People magazine every time Princess Diana is exhumed for another cover story, it would not be such a problem. But instead we forget our American-ness. We shuck and jive—I mean bow and curtsy—for the royal box at Wimbledon’s Center Court. We call them “the Queen Mother,” “Prince Charles,” or “Your Highness,” instead of the more American, and more dignified, “Mrs. Windsor” or “Charles.” We accept their worthless titles. We forget ourselves.

Not really. Americans love titles. We love a good Doctor, Senator, Madam Secretary or Mr. President. (The seemingly obligatory Mister in “Mr. Trump” has implied reverence, but I hope after this week everyone will go back to calling him “Donald” with the appropriately worthless title The.) While a doctor, cabinet member, and president have actually done something to earn their title other than just being born to a certain family, a title still adds an air of nobility to the person using it.

So, the aristocracy and nobility in a country reflect some of its values: Birthright and money in countries that still value royal families; achievement and money in America.

I can see why a lot of Americans don’t care about the wedding. The Windsors have no direct ties to America and there are a lot of bigger things going on in the world. Wills and Kate’s big day is just as much a celebrity wedding and soap opera as it is history and tradition. But why are some people getting their knickers in a twist? Watch the wedding, or just.. don’t. Taking a stand against the nuptials between a royal groom, who had a famous mother, and his “commoner” bride isn’t much of a stand to take.

2 Responses to “Taking A Stand Against The Royal Wedding”

  1. Beth says:

    Great article, Dean. I don’t know why people are upset about the coverage. Are we beating it to death? Yes. Do we have more important things to worry about? Yes. But… do we also desperately need a symbol and a moment to celebrate hope, love, and beauty for a few minutes before we go back to bloodshed, economic doomsday reports, and fear-mongering politicians? Absolutely.

  2. Thanks Beth. I agree, we can all use a distraction with so many bad things going on the world. But I don’t know why this distraction caused so much disdain in the two examples I sited and in places like Twitter. Indifference, I can understand. I can even understand anti-monarchist/pro-republican criticism of the royal family. But the anger I saw was something more than that.

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