Some of us remember the spectacle of Charles and Diana’s wedding. We were glued to our televisions, with the sense that we were watching history – and equally – the unfolding of a love story.
We were right on the former, but as for the latter – not so much.
Oh, there’s much to consume in the daily dose of media coverage. We know that Kate is solidly “middle class” (how exciting for those of us without noble blood), the date has been set (April 29), recent news indicates that some 100 random citizens will be selected to attend (akin to winning the lottery?), and of course, there’s speculation on the wedding dress.
Might I add that it was a British bishop who gave them seven years before their union dissolves?
I suppose it was inevitable that someone lay odds, though I find it a tad tackier coming from a clergyman. Though he apologized afterward, his gaff (on Facebook, yet!) has resulted in his being asked to resign, according to the last tidbit I saw on this topic. I may bear my own healthy portion of cynicism, but couldn’t we be kinder to these two, despite the fact that divorce has rocked the House of Windsor?
Be still my sentimental girlish heart. I admit, I’m crazy about a good wedding (and the parade of fashions). However… (yes, here it comes). The reality of the state of the world – and the state of my bank accounts – leaves me largely indifferent to this event. One of my favorite journalists at Politics Daily offers her own Bah Humbug opinion with far wittier words than I could possibly muster, but I am definitely of the “light coverage” camp.
And here’s my bottom line, concerning the bottom line.
While everyone loves a love story, even if this lavish event is less extravagant than the (estimated) $48 million wedding of Charles and Diana, and even if a significant portion is reportedly to be paid for by private (royal) funds, I have difficulty swallowing the inevitable price tag to come out of anyone’s pocket. Royalty or not. Or is that my frugal New England upbringing speaking, rather than an English one?
These remain crushing economic times for many, and a period of continued austerity in Britain. Could a few million be saved by cutting down on the height of the floral arrangements, or cutting back on the number of poo poo platters passed around the reception? And how many homes could be saved with such a sum? How many college educations funded?
I know. Apples and oranges, you’ll tell me. This is the royal family, you’ll insist. Heads of state will be attending. No pigs in blankets. No paper napkins.
I understand that a celebration of this magnitude engenders a sense of optimism and renewal on a national, even international scale. And no doubt, numerous sectors will benefit from a bustle of activity which will generate revenues over the next six months.
But personally, I tend to see life as a series of exchanges – in relationships, in the workplace, and in choices we make as individuals, daily. Those choices and trade-offs form the building blocks of our real and popular culture, as well as our collective conscience and consciousness. But my mind goes straight to the expenditures, to the good that could be done with just a fraction of those monies.
Now, I recall the complications of planning my own little wedding (and all the constituencies pushing and pulling and ultimately inflating the cost); I cannot begin to imagine the challenges of producing this sort of public event. But as in a “real world” wedding, at the end of the day, there is often a mandate to cut 10%.
What if the royal family were to do the same, and channel those funds into something that would make a difference in real lives?
What can I say. I’m a dreamer. But that would be a fairy tale worth witnessing. At the very least, maybe William and Kate could take a page out of Chelsea Clinton’s book, give her buzz, and have a nice chat. Perhaps the future King and his bride could fête their new beginning in appropriate splendor rather than ungodly excess.