I awoke before dawn to attend a wedding to which I wasn’t invited. Excited, I plated my cranberry scone and steeped a cup of blackberry flavored black tea and settled in to watch guest after guest arrive to the royal wedding. I held my breath as Princes William and Harry arrived at the Abbey. I looked with delight as Catherine Middle walked down the aisle a ‘commoner’ and emerged a duchess. All in all, it was a lovely affair.
And while I realize the thought of sitting around eating scones, sipping tea, and wearing a plastic crown (from a bachelorette party!) drudges up images of a chronically lonely singleton, I couldn’t help myself. I watched without shame, and tweeted with glee as the couple shared small moments during the ceremony. And then I began to see the few tweets complaining about the Royal wedding.
“Oh God. I’m eloping.” “I can’t believe people woke up to watch this shit.”
Amidst all the complaints of “who cares about those damn royals?”, something stands out to me. Some 750 million people are tuning in to see these two young people wed. True, some are watching just because it’s on, and others are watching just to complain. But I think a large majority of us are watching for one reason…we still believe in marriage.
Let’s be honest, at every turn we are forced to hear the scary statistics. 45 to 50% of first marriages end in divorce. The median age for divorce is around 30. And statistics get worse for second and third marriages. The point is driven home, time and again, day after day, that marriages just don’t last forever anymore.
And yet we still hope. We still marry. Still take vows that speak of parting only at death. Continue with the ceremony; the pomp; the circumstance. And I have to believe that we don’t do it in vain. We don’t do it for the sake of doing it. We do it because we still believe that there is a person out there for each of us, a lid for every pot, that can last forever. And we want this not only for ourselves, but for others. We wish this for our siblings, our children, our parents. We wish eternal happiness for our friends. But it goes beyond that…we wish it for our neighbors, for strangers on the street, for two people in their late twenties in Britain, one born to the Windsor family.
So, we wake up early to watch them prepare for their moment to come together as one. And despite knowing that they already live together, we delight in their happiness, and look for signs that this is real. Watching coverage of every moment, we look for hints in their vows that they take this seriously…we want to see passion in their kiss. We grasp at every straw we can to see that the love they have has the tell-tale signs that it could last forever.
And maybe some of us find meaning in things that we shouldn’t. Maybe we fabricated signs between the two of them today to assure ourselves that William and Kate are in this one for the long haul. Perhaps, just perhaps, we invent meaning behind smirks and glances. But it’s not for malicious reasons. It’s because we want to assure ourselves that true love is real, and that once-in-a-lifetime moment can happen.
But it’s not just the royal family that catches our attention with this topic. Nay, I’d say anyone who has been to a wedding…ever…has watched closely for signs and clues given by the couple at the altar. We want to delight in their love. We want there to be meaning for our friends, loved ones. Because, as the Archbishop of Canterbury said this morning at the royal ceremony “in a sense every wedding is a royal wedding “. Every time a couple weds and commitments themselves to each other is a royal affair.
And that’s why we watch, because it’s a hope we all have. That one day, our prince (or princess) will come….even in plain clothes.
So is it overload? Probably. Everything in this age of social media and electronic communication sort of beings overload. I think the influx some are complaining about is simply over-saturation because that’s what happens these days. But that doesn’t make the ceremony and the circumstance any less splendid.