By Corinne Wnek
When it comes to getting married, nobody does it better than the British, specifically, the British royal family. From the looks of them, who would have thought that they were such good party planners? But let’s give credit where credit is due. Today millions of people from all over the world will be glued to their TV screens to watch love, fashion and history come together one more time as Prince William and Kate Middleton take the royal plunge.
How I wish I could be there because I am an unabashed Anglophile, a lover of all things British! There is something about our mother country that, as an American, keeps me from being indifferent to the goings on over there. I have yet to cut the cultural umbilical cord.
For instance, I’m enamored with the row houses and stony architecture that is so distinct as to be easily recognized as English. The music of the Beatles and other British ‘invasion groups’ still resonates today with younger audiences who are just now discovering the Liverpool and Mersey beat sound
British literature? What haven’t I read? I tell you these people have produced more literary giants than almost any other culture! And what lady among us doesn’t cringe or admire the requisite enormous hats the royals wear. Some could easily be mistaken for a misplaced bird’s nest. Then there’s that accent. Who doesn’t love a British accent?
Let’s take the royal family, a boatload of dukes, earls, duchesses, viscounts, princes, princesses and, of course, the Queen herself. So important is this crew that they only need one name, and maybe a number, as in Elizabeth II. I don’t know why, but the Queen is very comforting to me. Although she doesn’t have much power anymore, it still feels like she does. She is like everyone’s mother; moral, decisive, caring, gentle and just a little bit frumpy to make you remember that money can’t buy everything.
A few years ago my family traveled to London for a summer vacation. I remember the first time I saw Big Ben, actually called St. Stephen’s Tower. Nothing could express how huge and detailed this symbol of Britain looks close up. Westminster Abbey, where the latest royal wedding will take place, is also breathtaking in its majesty. The remains of many literary figures, prime ministers, and kings and queens lie there like silent sentinels of a bygone era.
The real surprise was Buckingham Palace because it is not all that spectacular looking. In fact, it reminded me of a prison. But the changing of the royal guard? Now that was special. Nobody puts on a show better than these guards in their red and gold uniforms sitting stiffly atop their plumed horses.
But what made this visit to the palace exciting was that we arrived there on the very first day that visitors would be allowed inside for a tour of the Queen’s home. What luck! My heart raced just realizing that I was breathing the same air as the Queen and in her house, too! We saw one gigantic, overly ornate room after another, including the spectacular throne room, and soon I felt like my senses were on overload. Suddenly, all the rooms looked the same to me, old, gold and cold.
I felt happy that I had a real home to go back to. But I couldn’t help wondering if some prince or princess might be staring down at me in the crowd and wishing they had my life and the simplicity that goes with it. Given the troubles of the royal family over the past few years, this is not so far-fetched. I wonder how they would feel about taking the garbage out after dinner.
Still, I will be among those cheering for Kate and William that they may live happily ever after.
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