Friday, April 29, 2011
Royal Wedding Obsession
Well, they're married. Those two young Brits that have been plastered all over world news coverage for the past few weeks. Pretty exciting, eh?
Honestly, I barely noticed, and since I don't have a television, and am selective about what I read in the newspaper, it mostly occurred without my attention.
However, I have always found the obsession people have (many outside of England proper) with the British royal family really interesting. And can't help but think it's almost all about nostalgia and a love for the fancy and ritualistic. When Queen Elizabeth II took over as head of the royal family in 1953, there was still something of a "kingdom" connected to the United Kingdom. Amongst the nations where British influence was still heavily felt were Australia, New Zealand, India, Jamaica, Canada, and Belize. Over the past nearly sixty years, however, much of that actual influence has faded, and the royal family's power has become mostly symbolic.
And yet, there are still millions of people around the world who will stop everything they are doing to watch or listen to coverage of a wedding. To sit and debate whether or not it will last, or how well Kate Middleton does or doesn't fit into the royal family. Yesterday, I sat next to three middle-aged American guys (who claimed to have no interest in the whole thing) spend twenty minutes discussing the "mystery" of Middleton's dress. If that doesn't say something about how commonplace interest in the British royal family is, I don't know what would.
But when you consider what seems to get the most attention when it comes to these folks, it's the relationships, don't you think? Oddly enough, the beginning of my first long term relationship began on the night of Princess Diana's funeral. A group of us sat up all night watching the funeral procession and ceremony, and then, when the others went off to bed, my future girlfriend and I sat on a couch, talking and kissing for the first time. To this day, there's something entirely surreal about that beginning, and perhaps it was a sign of a relationship that lasted over three years, but was falling apart by the end of the first year.
It seems to me that the ups and downs of the royals become a medium through which people work through their own ups and downs. The royal wedding becomes a dream for women (and a few men I suppose). The relationship difficulties of royals like Charles and Diana become representatives of people's own relationship struggles. The divorces representative of everyday people's relationship endings.
I have always felt like an outsider in issues like this. The lives of famous people rarely interest me, and with the royal family, my interest is about the interest itself.
But even so, somehow, too, I'm part of the whole story. Just another person, searching for connection and understanding amongst a world littered with symbols, useful and not so much.