Saturday, April 30, 2011

REFLECTIONS ON THE ROYAL WEDDING

The wedding invitation was a surprise. Unfortunately, it arrived too late for my wife and me to make the necessary arrangements to attend. We were among the very few to send regrets. Thus I dreamed. Then I rose early and watched from afar, like one to two billion other people. Half of them seemed to line the streets of London, then to swarm them after the cortege of carriages and cars went by. I saw nary a stiff upper lip; instead, many a Union Jack, many a smile, and a few tears of joy.

With a modest background in military intelligence, I looked for security forces. Aside from the police standing at intervals along the routes and one fellow in a yellow security vest near a TV camera, sharpshooters and support personnel were nowhere visible. My understanding is that sundry security agencies contacted the usual and some unusual suspects to remind them of the date: Friday, 29 April, absolutely nothing happens— right, old chap?

I need not tell those who watched the entire ceremony that it was everything which our British cousins do better than any other people in the world: the entire ceremony. No delay, no hitch, no false step; all grace and good bearing; all pomp and circumstance. Even the intermission for the signing of the marriage license had a genteel rightness to it—not too long, not too short, just right.

And for young and old in England, who need no reminder, and for Anglophiles everywhere else, there was the eye-blearing fly-over of a Lancaster bomber and two fighters, a Hurricane and a Spitfire. Heroic past and historic present honored one another by this witness to RAF pilots who fought with game and grit in a dark hour against otherwise overwhelming forces to ensure just such moments for the monarchy and more—I tell you, it was almost, but not quite, too much.

William Arthur Philip Louis is a fine fellow. But Catherine Elizabeth is peerless. Transcending great beauty, she is all royal in her self-possession, dignified deportment, and gracious demeanor, with a smile as radiant, warm, and welcoming as—I know not what. They say that she is discreet. Of course, she is. How else could she have overcome the difference of class and the caution of the highest blood? They do not say—why not, I wonder—that she is intelligent. Her attendance at St. Andrews testifies to good brains to go with good looks. We may expect much of them and their good works.

The new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge bring new life and high luster to the English monarchy. More, the traditions evoked by, and the ceremonies of state revived for, the occasion should, I hope, remind us of the value of values seldom appreciated, less often acquired, in these pedestrian days. Perhaps this young and winsome couple will help us restore them to ourselves and to our posterity.

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