Should We Care About the Royal Wedding?
I’ve never been quite sure why I’m supposed to care about the royal family.
To me, the relevant question isn’t do I care, but am I supposed to care?
It’s clear to me that I’m supposed to care about international happenings such as conflict in Israel, Syria, and Korea; I’m certain that issues closer to home also demand my attention, issues such as racial injustice and burgeoning gun violence in America, which we have become all too accustomed to. But is the royal family something which we should spend our mental energies, or what is left of them, caring about?
It’s somewhat astonishing to me that people around the world seemingly follow with baited breath every last movement of these insanely-well dressed, rich, tea-drinking Brits. Maybe that’s because, at least in America, the closest thing we have to a royal family is… the Kardashians?? Jay-Z and Beyoncé?? Perhaps it’s presidential families like the Obamas, but they come and go from the public eye, and the patriarchs of those families have real political power.
I heard a sound bite on the radio from Khloe Kardashian last week in which she gushed about how she’s getting back to her pre-baby figure, keeping her mind and soul fit, practicing yoga, and encouraged her fans to do the same. The radio hosts took a minute to consider how tone deaf her sentiment was: “let’s all live that way, with the help of our personal servants and assistants.” I can’t help but imagine the life of royals in the UK isn’t much different, minus the NBA stars, sex tapes, and famous rappers.
I didn’t watch Kate and William’s wedding in 2011, for one reason or another. I remember hearing about Prince George’s birth from afar, half-heartedly paying attention and hoping they named him Matthew so he could be “Prince Matthew of Cambridge.” That would have grabbed my attention for sure.
My attention was seized like never before this weekend when Kendahl and I found ourselves in a cozy B&B in Ludington, about 90 minutes away from Grand Rapids. On Friday night, after wandering around town, stopping at a brewery for dinner, and racing to the sunset at Stearns park, we found ourselves surprisingly glued to the television as the Lifetime movie Harry and Meghan: A Royal Romance was showing. The first scene we saw was the couple arguing about Harry’s unwillingness to open up about his mother, immediately followed by them being confronted by a lion. Needless to say, we were locked in.
Even though the guy who plays Harry looked more like the lovechild of Andy Murray and Kevin Love than the man he is portraying, the film does a nice job of setting up the wedding, which in our case would take place just a brief night’s rest after we saw it. The scene with the Queen (QE2) made me surprisingly emotional. I was really hoping to see Clare Foy dressed up like a 95-year-old, which would have looked about as ridiculous as the epilogue scene from the final Harry Potter movie, but great nonetheless. In the scene, QE2 asks Meghan if she is involved with the show The Crown. When Meghan says no, she replies, “Good, then I won’t have to throw you in the Tower.” It’s a funny moment, but like many other things in the movie, is fictitious because it has been widely reported the QE2 LOVES The Crown. She shows the couple a painting of Queen Charlotte, who was also a biracial royal, and gives her blessing. Whether or not this particular scene really happened this way, it was a fantastic moment and left me misty-eyed.
After the film ended, a documentary came on about all of the rules the couple were breaking (No Catholics! No divorcées! No weekend weddings! We must have Fruit caaake!) and we were, of course, enthralled from start to finish.
Our alarms went off precisely at 7 AM on Saturday, and we groggily re-gained consciousness and flipped on the television in time for the bride to be stepping out of the car and showing the world her dress – “all I wanted to see,” Kendahl said. The dress, of course, was beautiful, and her diamond-encrusted tiara was astonishing. We watched as Meghan walked herself down the aisle and was joined by Charles mid-way through. We peered as the cameras showed guests, both the royal and the merely famous (There’s Oprah! Hey, it’s Clooney! Is that Marcus Mumford?! Why isn’t Ed Sheeran here?!?). We listened with awe and encouragement as Bishop Michael Curry gave an unbelievable sermon about the power of love. We, like many others, considered the gravity of seeing an African American preach at a royal wedding, how important it is that an audience of millions all around the world were being asked to consider the words of Dr. King and listen to wisdom from the book of Amos – “let justice roll down like a mighty stream….” We listened to beautiful music, as choruses of “Stand By Me” and “This Little Light of Mine,” both well-known civil rights anthems, were sung by all-black choirs. We watched the couple wave to the crowds as they took their carriage ride, and I enjoyed how one of the horses had to be continually reprimanded and put back on course. It was, by all accounts, a beautiful wedding on a gorgeous May Saturday.
I’m still not sure if we’re supposed to care about this family and their endeavors. Surely, over the coming weeks and months when the hoo-rah of this wedding has fallen back into the distance, we will spend less time caring, thinking, and gushing over the events of the wedding, the dress, and all the rest of it. There won’t be another royal wedding for at least 20 years, and Harry will, in all likelihood, never wear the Crown. And perhaps the royal family is largely irrelevant anyway.
But I do care.
I care because, unlike Israel, Korea, gun violence, and everything else you hear about every day, this story brings light and hope to our world that we are desperate for. I care because Harry and Meghan invited “common” people to their wedding who have done amazing things for their communities and I believe they will continue to lift up such people. I care because the couple demonstrated through the events of their wedding that they will do what is in their power to break down barriers and fight for radical inclusivity. I care because, though the royal family may not have an abundance of political or economic influence, their cultural influence cannot be denied. I care because, though we may be watching a fairy tale, I really do believe that there’s power in love and it was on full display yesterday.