watching the royals


Why so enthralled with the royal wedding?  It’s senseless to care about quaint, ceremonial institutions. Fairy tales and princesses – we’ve moved on, haven’t we?  We revolted against and removed the heads of monarchs and dispatched the ideas that held us in thrall and them in power:  divine right, heredity.  And with blood and politics ushered in emancipatory ideas to fill the void:  enlightenment, meritocracy, democracy and modernism.  Plebiscite, suffrage, revolution: these are the hard fought – and won – battles waged against the long pre-modern night.

To the wedding, reaction among my friends was pretty tepid.  Except for three Brits who donned their fascinators and watched on the BBC big screen in DUMBO and later the repeat in a bar in Brooklyn, no one seemed to care much. Each was one of nonchalant, bored, oblivious, mocking and categorically opposed.  Some were a mix.  I’m busy, we defeated the Brits, we’re anti-pomp, but mostly, we’re American, was the field of responses.

When Diana died, I watched, in the middle of the night in my east coast studio:  the cortege of the Princess, her sons, the princes and her shocked brother walking in black suits behind.  “The half muffled bells of Westminster Abbey ring out their quarter peal across an unusually still London,” said the announcer.

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