The Royal Wedding is all over American television this morning: apparently it is Americans who are largely responsible for all the attendant brouhaha. But Brits are way excited, too. Perhaps part of the fascination is seeing a “fairy tale wedding,” complete with uniforms, fancy hats, long gowns, and preachers who need an eyebrow wax. But surely part of it is also that we’re seeing the future KING AND QUEEN get hitched.
The curious thing about the British Royal Family is that, nearly without exception, all of my British friends support it—even the ones so liberal that they’re almost socialists.
But the institution of royalty is outmoded in this world, and especially in that country. And even though the Firm has virtually no political power, they persist. The arguments I hear are that it’s more convenient to divide up political power from ceremonial duties, and that the Royal Family brings in lots of dosh through tourism (though I’m not sure whether they consume more than they produce). If it’s money, why not hire a bunch of submental stiffs to play them, as in Colonial Williamsburg? Or just put wax figures in Buckingham Palace (that’s almost what we have anyway)?
I conclude that for many Brits—who won’t admit it openly—the pull of tradition is too strong. They’ve always had a king or queen, and always want to. The Firm is like Marmite, or the R.A.F.
But how can a democracy tolerate a ruling family that not only neuronally challenged, but also makes you curtsy before them and back out of the room when leaving them. That’s the kind of abject servitude that characterizes religion.
UPDATE: Hitch has some choice words about the monarchy and the wedding.
UPDATE 2: (As pointed out by commenter “Anonymous”): The ultimate indignity in this affair is that Larry, the Official Chief Mouser at Ten Downing Street, was forced to don a Union Jack bowtie for the occasion. Does he look happy?