On Thursday evening, I went to bed fully dressed in yoga pants, a t-shirt, and fuzzy socks. I asked my mobile phone to vibrate it's way across my night table at two and hoped that four hours of sleep would be sufficient for the arduous day ahead. The plan, you see, was to watch every second of royal wedding coverage available to me. And if you think I was a little crazy about it, let me tell you this: my sister slept in front of the tv that night. She wasn't taking any chances.
It's surprising how easy it is to get out of bed at a ridiculously early hour if the reason has nothing to do with work. I didn't use the snooze function a single time, managed to make it down the stairs in the dark without damage to the house or myself, and before I even realized my eyes were open. It didn't take so much as a whisper before my sister was wide awake - I think she detected moving air currents from me entering the room. There we both were, huddled under our blankies on our respective couches, giddy as school girls at the prospect of fairytale princes, beautiful princesses, and let's not forget: the dress.
Fortunately Canada still has fairly strong if ceremonial ties to Merrie Olde England, so that our national television broadcaster was providing juicy tidbits of information long before the other networks thought of abandoning their infomercials. Who is going to buy a juicer when you can learn about royal bacon sandwiches, see an interview with the butcher of Buckleberry, and speculate on what Becks will look like in his morning coat? (Who buys a juicer before the sun comes up, anyway?)
As interesting as all the preliminary speculation was, things got really exciting once the guests began arriving - dignitaries, heads of state, foreign monarchs, select celebrities (I see you, Becks!), and then, hilariously stepping out of mini-buses, the minor royals. (Don't feel sorry for them, though... the mini-buses were very nice, and they were very well dressed.) Weren't you fascinated by the fascinators? Didn't you just love the infinite variety of hats and head-toppers? Aren't you resolved to buy yourself a fabulous hat and set a new trend among your friends, and insist the men of your acquaintance become familiar with cut-away coats and tails?
Finally... finally the groom and best man (also known as the two princes) were on their way to the church - in this case a rather spectacular church known as Westminster Abbey. Then the families arrived - among them another prince, a duke/prince, and a queen. It was almost too much excitement to bear! How happy Prince Charles looked, more grey and worn-in than I think of him, but quite the father of the groom. There was grandmama the Queen shining brightly in the canary yellow version of her party frock, hand bag slung over her arm. (Just what does a queen carry in her purse?) The little children attendants were so cute and well behaved in dresses and dress uniforms; I wonder if it was carrots or sticks that induced such model deportment?
Could it get any better? Yes, it could, when the bride was spotted at last, and finally we saw that dress. How elegant, poised, and beautiful she was. The dress was stunning in its simplicity and tastefulness. As was the ceremony itself. Sure, they decorated the church with 20 foot trees, but wasn't it beautiful and perfectly perfect? There was no voluminous wrapping of the trunks, no illumination by fairy lights of the branches, no dangling ornaments. The only sparkle came from that lovely tiara and those beautiful earrings. There may have been 1,900 invited guests but it felt like a family wedding that we had the good fortune to witness. It was tasteful, befitting their rank and circumstance, with many thoughtful touches showing the young couple had given consideration to 'their people'. And their people responded with delight and joy, rallying around the couple with well wishes and applause.
What's the point of all this pomp and circumstance? It may be symbolic, but if it chooses, majesty may do a great deal of good, both directly and indirectly. It can inspire hope in troubled times; it can encourage service by example; it can lead the way in nobility of habits - good manners, etiquette, civility, kindness. We all know that the heads that wear the crowns are human heads, and capable of the same evils and debauchery any of us are, but on a day like this, let's see the bright side of life. Weddings are a spring time in our life story... a time of new beginning, a season of hope and promise.
I saw a lot of hope and promise in that wedding: refined beauty, understated elegance, regal poise. And all of that in a dress!
We went on to watch recaps and specials throughout that day and evening, wanting to really fill up on royal wedding goodness. Yes, it was pomp and circumstance, ceremony and pageantry, but I think we need that from time to time. Even with the fairytale aspect of the occasion, what has remained with me in the days since is the enjoyment to be had when people behave well, mind their manners, know what is expected of them, and dress appropriately.