I’m exhausted. Weddings do that to me, Royal ones especially. It’s not the romance or love story or even the dress – it’s the splendor, pageantry and formality of the occasion in a time when deference, good manners and behaving well seem to have been abandoned.
No one wants to live in a society forced to obey rules or submit to a self-interested leader, politically or in the workplace, but there is something rather comforting and reassuring in knowing how to behave when the situation demands. Doing things the right way. It’s not being submissive or subservient it’s being respectful of other people.
Watching the Royal Wedding there was something soothing in knowing the event would follow the protocols worked out over centuries, with a few modern tweaks thrown in. The etiquette and procedures follow a pattern we recognise and feel familiar with as a nation.
Nothing stirs the heart more than seeing the pristine horses, carriages, military bands and all the pomp and circumstance surrounding them. The precision in timing is breathtaking.
What moved me was the understanding of everyone present in the Abbey that this was a profoundly important ceremony and gave it the reverence and respect it deserved. The music elevated proceedings to an almost mystical level. It was history being made – a solemn awareness that today will be recorded in the annals of the nation. That once again the monarch and her people have acknowledged the symbiotic relationship that has tied them over millenia. A relationship of trust and respect.
You don’t agree?
Then ask the hundreds of thousands of people surging down The Mall towards Buckingham Palace why they were there. People of all backgrounds, colours and creeds. At times of great celebration, sadness and crisis it is Buckingham Palace where people congregate, they seek the Monarch, not political leaders, in time of need.
Perhaps I am lucky to have lived during the reign of a monarch who takes her responsibility seriously and has put that role before private and personal considerations. I for one would love to see her mantle pass directly to her grandson, but monarchy doesn’t work like that.
What we saw today was a national figurehead in the making. A man who obviously thinks he is the lottery winner in this marriage. What has stayed with me throughout the day was how well Kate behaved – deferential, dignified and regal. Her family showed outstanding grace in how they conducted themselves too; they may be commoners but ‘manners maketh the man’ as William of Wykeham said.
It was a wonderful moment when, after each had said ‘I will’, the Abbey filled with the roar of approval from the people outside.
And the prime moment for me?
As they headed back to the palace and drove through the archway from Whitehall into Horseguards, for a few seconds, away from the gaze of the public, William and Catherine held hands – and the image of that young man and his brother walking through that same arch behind the coffin of their mother, Princess Diana, was forever banished.
The beginning of an era where mutual respect, deference and behaving well are the order of the day? It would be nice to think so.