03-02-2011 by L. S. Carbonell
Shortly after Princess Diana died, People Magazine acknowledged that she was probably responsible for their success. Princess Diana on the cover elevated People out of the realm of glossy tabloid and into respectability. They probably feel that lightening just struck twice. In Catherine Middleton, they have a gorgeous young woman to grace their cover again…..and again and again and again……
This week’s cover claims that “William and Kate are bucking tradition…” One would think after all these years that People’s editorial staff would have caught on to the secret of the BritRoyals. They have a talent for making everything look like a thousand-year old tradition even though they only thought it up the day before yesterday. There are only two things in Great Britain that are carved in traditional stone, the Opening of Parliament, which has not changed one whit since the reign of William and Mary, and the coronation of a new monarch. When Charles was invested as Prince of Wales, the ceremony looked like it was straight out of the reign of Longshanks, but no Prince of Wales had ever been formally invested in that kind of ceremony. There is no traditional formula for a royal wedding. Every one of them is unique in some way. Queen Elizabeth’s wedding was one of the most austere, with the country still on wartime rationing and supplies for a banquet in short supply. Apparently, virgins were also in short supply after World War II. The Queen Mother was heard to comment that they had to find a supply of “maidens” to act as bridesmaids “if there are any left.”
Even marrying a commoner isn’t new. The peripheral Royals have been doing it for generations. It is unusual for a direct heir to the throne. You have to go back quite a way for the last one who didn’t marry someone with at least a “Lady” in front of her name. Diana’s father was the 8th Earl Spencer, a title that dated back to 1765. How Americans got the idea she was a commoner always mystified me. And the fact that Wills and Kate are not going in for a houseful of servants isn’t exactly new either. When they were first married, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip lived on the military base at Gibraltar. At the most, they had a a couple of servants, not a full regalia. Queen Elizabeth was quite a competent young woman, having driven ambulances during the war and knowing how to repair them. She was up in a tree, photographing African wildlife when she received word her father had died and she was Queen.
This marriage does break with one ancient tradition, however. Kate has not been made to endure the “virgin certification” that kept Charles from marrying Camilla Parker those many years ago. That tradition dates to a time when it was the only means of assuring that whatever child might be born to the Queen or Princess was actually the child of the King or Prince of Wales. It was a stupid idea in the 1970′s and it’s pointless today. William and Kate have been living together part-time for a couple of years already. The Royals have also given up on the month-long training time that Princess Diana spent with the Queen Mum. It’s a much more relaxed monarchy than it was thirty years ago, and hallelujah to that.
On Fiday, April 29, a few million people in America will set their alarm clocks for ridiculous times, 2:30 a.m. in California, 5:30 a.m. on the East Coast. If they are lucky, they have BBCAmerica on your cable lineup. No commercials. In the east, we will try to catch part of the show as we get the kids off to school and get ready for work. We will forget that we fought two wars to rid ourselves of these Royals and drench ourselves in the pageantry, pomp and celebration across the pond. Heavens willing, we can spend the morning indulging in the fantasy and forget all the problems of the world. That’s what Royals are for, aren’t they?