Royally excited

A scene from the early morning rehearsal for the Royal Weddin... on Twitpic

(Pictured above, Wednesday morning rehearsal in London for the Royal Wedding. Follow updates on the event from Clarence House on Twitter.)

Lately, it seems, it’s the popular thing to say you either don’t care or are really sick of hearing about the Royal Wedding. (Yes, I did just capitalize that.) I say, go ahead and don’t care, but if you really don’t care, why do you need to comment about it? Sick of it? Change the channel, flip the page, click on another story. No one’s forcing this on you. Let those of us who are excited enjoy it. Go be Debby Downer amongst yourselves.

That being said, I’m completely freaking excited about this wedding. I’m unabashedly, as Frasier Crane once labeled himself, an anglophile. I don’t know precisely when it started, but at least since junior high, I desperately wanted to visit the UK. And not just that, I wanted to be British. I perfected my British accent, watched Hugh Grant movies religiously, and devised elaborate day dreams about my awesome British life.

In the summer between my junior and senior years of undergrad, I finally got to realize my dream: I studied abroad in the UK and Ireland for six weeks. (I would be linking you to scanned photos from that trip but am currently kicking myself because I forgot to bring my gimungous scrapbook home from Michigan this weekend.) It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, without doubt. But perhaps the best part was that we landed in London mere days before 4-day national holiday that was the Queen’s 50th Jubilee.  (Her anniversary of being on the throne.)

Days of concerts, fireworks, parades, and unfettered royal worship. It was fabulous. Five years after Princess Diana’s death, many of the wounds caused by the Royal Family’s reaction to that Paris car crash seemed to have healed. Maybe the country just really wanted a reason to party. Either way, it was quite the London welcome to 17 college-age American girls.

Now nearly nine years after that trip, London, and the rest of the UK, is gearing up for another serious bash. And I would do just about anything to be there. But alas, I am smack in the middle of finals and seriously lacking in funds, so I shall have to tune in from my couch. And tune in I shall, even though it means I’ll be rolling out of bed around 3:30 a.m. Chicago time.

I’ve heard the argument that there’s no good reason for Americans to be all hot and bothered about this. These are, after all, not our sovereigns. We fought so we wouldn’t have monarchs. But that’s precisely why I think I and many other Americans are so obsessed with the Royals. It’s exciting largely because we have nothing to compare. We might have inaugurations, but they have coronations. And sure, we have prominent weddings, but I don’t recall getting a national holiday for Chelsea Clinton’s nuptials, do you? And, of course, our tax dollars don’t fund the palaces and guards and lavish lifestyles, so it’s all fun and games on this side of the pond.

But, really, I think what captivates us is the fantasy and magic of it all. Much as we’d like to have moved on from the silly Disney ideals of our childhoods, part of many of us still wants the fairy tale. We know we will never have a fairy godmother, or a menagerie of talking animal friends, but there are still real live princesses. And in a little more than 24 hours, we will watch a commoner (although I have to laugh at this categorization of Kate, as she has more money than most of us will ever see in a lifetime, so it doesn’t exactly seem like a major status jump here) turn into a bona fide princess.

Is all this attention a little silly? Sure. Could attention and money be focused on more important things? Of course. But events like this don’t come around that often. Charles and Diana married four months before I was born, but watching it unfold in near real time on a TLC special earlier this week, I couldn’t help but get excited, even knowing how that particular fairy tale would end. In the intervening 30 years, the only similar thing, sadly, that has garnered the same level of global attention is Diana’s funeral. I awoke in the darkness to watch that, and I see no reason why I shouldn’t do the same for a happy event.

In times of trial, we often criticize lavish events as frivolous and wasteful. And yet, they often attract a great deal of interest. Like Queen Elizabeth’s wedding, during the strict rationing of post-WWII England, and Charles and Diana’s wedding, in the midst of a recession similar to the one we’re currently experiencing, this wedding comes at a time of unrest and unhappiness. Perhaps the money and attention paid to this wedding is better spent on other things, but I think something like this is important in times like these. We need a reminder that life is worth celebrating, and that tough times don’t stop the joyous parts of life.

So scoff if you will, complain if you must. But don’t rain on my royal parade. I mean, really, don’t you think we all deserve a few moments of fantasy in our lives?

I do.

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~ by yellowbrickrodeo on April 27, 2011.

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