I didn’t watch the royal wedding live this past weekend, as in I didn’t get up at 4 a.m. and put on a plastic tiara and drink English Breakfast tea with my oohing-and-ahhing friends. Or whatever else royal watchers did the world over to mark the occasion. But I did catch bits and pieces of it online and on my in-laws’ DVR.
I admit to a certain kind of fascination with royalty and royal weddings in particular. I’m not sure exactly what it is. Perhaps the rarity of a royal marriage. Princess Diana only had two kids, of course, so the weddings of her offspring were bound to be a big deal simply because they’d only happen exactly (ostensibly) twice in the history of the world.
Definitely, there is something about the opulence that draws my eye. Meghan’s tiara, the Rolls Royces, and did you catch the interior of that church? Wow, just beautiful. Jaw-dropping. When the camera switched to an outside feed, I even noticed some flying buttresses. (Yes, of course, several pubescent buttress jokes come to mind. No, I’m not going to write them here.) Opulence, but history too. The commentators, between their own fan-girl/fan-boy geek-outs, kept referencing just exactly how significant this aspect or that aspect of the wedding ceremony was because it hearkened back to Queen Victoria or King Edward or Charlemagne.
In light of the intense interest in the royal wedding, particularly American interest, it’s odd to consider that some 250 years or so ago, the British were as big of an enemy to the Thirteen Original Colonies — the eventually United States — as anybody stateside could possibly imagine. Not ISIS, not the Viet Cong, not Nazis. The British. Just what the hell would George Washington say? “An American marrying a British prince? Of her own free will? A Benedictina Arnold she is!” He’d have shot himself in the head, just so he could roll over in his grave.
I for one am averse to the idea of royals. I don’t mean specifically Prince Harry, Queen Elizabeth, etc. Royalty in general. And I know the British royalty, not to mention most extant royal families in any country, are figureheads. I know they don’t really govern, not anymore, or at least not with the absolute power they once did. But still. I’m glad we don’t have ‘em here in the USA.
All the pomp and circumstance, all the history and tradition, all the pageantry and beauty of Harry and Meghan’s wedding — and there was a lot — made me thankful, once again, to be an American. Royalty, with extremely rare exceptions as in Meghan’s case, is not for you. It’s not for me. It’s not for your friends or your family. Royalty exists, as near as I can tell, so royals can, if they wish, remind themselves that whatever kind of turmoil they or their countries might face, they’re not commoners like the plebes who bow before them.
I should say thanks, I guess, to Harry and Meghan for the reminder that here in America, at least in principle, nobody is due homage solely because of the luck of their birth into a family deemed royal, even Divine. “In principle” is critical. Sure, we show an homage most would only show royalty to all kinds of people here in America. Sports heroes, actors, Kardashians. But we don’t have to. It’s not mandated by the law of the land. By contrast, in principle, Prince Harry could chop off your head if you told him to his face, “Go screw.”
Now don’t let me get my Lee Greenwood on. Let’s not kid ourselves. The United States of America, as she stands now, is deeply troubled. Perhaps more deeply troubled now than in any other time in modern American history. Values that I once took for granted as uniquely American, firmly planted in American soil, have corroded so much so as to make the America I thought I knew nearly entirely unrecognizable. For example, when I thought of America as a kid, the first word that came to mind was “bravery.” But now we have a coward for a president and, worse, we have Trump knockoffs seeking our permission at the ballot box to ride his filthy coattails. Randy Boyd for Governor of Tennessee, anyone? Disgusting. We the people are so afraid these days.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. For a number of reasons, I hate to quote Bill Clinton here. I’ll just go ahead and say what he said, while grinding my teeth, just for a point of reference. Bill Clinton said, “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured with what is right with America.” I like the sentiment and I suppose he gave us a preview of what is wrong with America when he “did not have sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.” I’m no prude I must say, but Trump’s adulterous behavior probably makes Bill Clinton blush. Or at least say, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
What Clinton said about America is nice, but it’s a bit too simple. Clinton didn’t say anything about the difficult work we the people have to do now to rediscover what is right with America. Likely, he didn’t figure we’d look the way we look now in the course of his lifetime. But it’s work worth doing. What is right can be rediscovered within our national boundaries. It’s written into our founding documents and that’s a pretty good place to start. The Constitution, the Declaration of Independence. Well, pretty good if you’re an American or if you want to become an American. Not so much if you’re a royal.
Paul Luikart is a writer whose work has appeared in a number of places over the years. His most recent book, “Animal Heart,” is available now from Hyperborea Publishing. Follow him on Twitter. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.