I heard the following on talk radio yesterday:
“Of course I’m excited, this will be one of the most important days of our time.”
Any clue what this quote refers to? Perhaps something to do with Egypt’s democratic independence? No. Maybe it was some asshole hoping for a government shutdown in hopes to prove some kind of point? Nope! Give up? The ever-important upcoming nuptials between England’s Prince William and his soon to be wife, Kate Middleton. Though, before I criticize the unironic quote above, I found myself transfixed by a recent Newsweek article about Kate’s new role and her inclusion in this exclusive club, for lack of a better word. Apparently I have a level of interest (even if its slight), and I’m not positive why.
Now, the British Monarchy has not been relevant in some time. In fact, I think they lost their general power sometime in the 18th century, and have held a figurehead role ever since. Now, obviously, the royals still represent England from a vanity standpoint till this day, as the regal family is still called upon to hold a certain standard all British citizens (and the world) can aspire to. So, its not surprising why the English may care that Prince William is getting married, but the bigger question is….why do we? Why does the world?
Now, there could be a few reasons that are specific to the Windsor family, a few specific to history, and a few specific to the cultural zeitgeist. Firstly, the British royal family has long been in the public eye, but the tabloidal view towards them absolutely exploded with the marriage of Charles and Diana and the subsequent death of the princess. She became a world icon (and then maybe martyr) that seemed to win the affection and admiration of the planet, even during her bitter separation from Prince Charles (and despite people knowing little about her). And since William is the son of Diana, I suppose interest could be generated from there, though I tend not to buy this argument.
Another possibility is the fact that America was once a British colony, and therefore, under British rule. Similarly, much of the world was once under the rule of the British Empire (which had influence in six continents). But the fact that we fought for our independence against the British may actually suggest resentment, not to mention this was over 300 years ago anyway, so the answer probably doesn’t lay there either.
So what is it about this essentially meaningless marriage that has the world so captivated? The more I consider it, the more I wonder if people would be as interested if William were marrying another royal. And my best guess is that there’s a certain kinship that “normal” people feel with Kate Middleton considering she comes from a middle class background. After all, it’s many girls’ childhood dream to become a princess, and the idea that a commoner can achieve the goal may cause the female public to live vicariously through her, but I also believe the engagement feeds into this misguided belief that we are all entitled to greatness (to be rich) which permeates American society and distorts political support. This could be a similar reason the public was so enamored with Diana and ready to support her without much knowledge of the woman. I believe the public still has ambivalence towards the royal family, and the us against them mentality actually conflicts with their desire to experience the royal lifestyle. Regardless, it produces interest in their daily lives.
Now, I could be completely wrong. Perhaps people just want to see some pretty pictures or just like the idea of royals marrying, but feeding off the Diana frenzy, it does seem like the world believes this marriage is essentially the royal class embracing the commoner and letting them into their world if only for one day (like Willy Wonka opening the factory doors). And this is what causes the extreme interest and provokes quotes like the one above, even if it only manifests itself on a subconscious level.