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Five Reasons Why I'm Watching the Royal Wedding (and Not Ashamed to Say So)

by Maureen Ryan, posted Apr 27th 2011 11:30AM
I've been asked several times recently why I plan to get up in the wee hours on Friday and watch the royal wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William.

That's an easy question to answer. We all define escapism differently, and for me, the wedding will provide hours and hours of mindless entertainment (thanks a bunch, U.K. taxpayers!).

Look, we royal wedding types aren't asking you to watch with us. If you want to go about your business and ignore the royal frippery on Friday, that is just fine with us.

But let me at least explain more fully why I will be unable to resist watching the whole thing, from start to finish, just as, the other night, I was sucked into a hour-long Barbara Walters special on the wedding (and why I read this entire list of 50 Things You Should Know About the Royal Wedding). Superman has his Kryptonite, I have royal weddings. It is simply not within my power to resist any of this.

So, by royal decree, here are five reasons I'm watching the wedding:

The Brits Know How to Put On a Good Show
Never mind that the sun has set on the British Empire -- Queen Elizabeth and her minions still know how to put on a production that would gladden the heart of the most extravagant Broadway producer. Some of us happen to enjoy the pageantry and the pomp of these kinds of veddy proper British events, and even if, on an intellectual level, we know we're being manipulated by canny image maestros, well, so what? The first Queen Elizabeth, not to mention Queen Victoria, were so shrewd about image that we're still reading books and watching movies about them hundreds of years later. They knew the value of symbolism and ritual, and the Windsor family and their retainers have hung on to those lessons, despite (or perhaps because of) some rather unfortunate missteps in the last decade or three. Westminster Abbey in full royal regalia and the stiff-upper-lip endurance of Elizabeth herself are proof positive that English culture has produced something of value aside from 'Doctor Who,' the Magna Carta and a wide array of delicious biscuits (I'm partial to McVities Digestives myself -- as is Prince William, apparently).

It's Pure Catnip for a Certain Kind of Anglophile
If you're partial to all things English, royal weddings scratch that itch in a big way. And the fact that a nice, non-aristocratic English girl -- a descendant of coal miners, no less -- snagged the handsome prince makes the event all the more romantic, in a Jane Austen sort of way. Kate Middleton, not unlike an Austen heroine, comes off as a sensible and self-possessed young woman, and it's worth adding that she never sought the public eye but will manage its demands in order to be with the man she loves. As for William, I know he's insanely wealthy and privileged and all that, but he's still someone who lost his mother at an early age and has had to struggle, under the relentless gaze of the media, to define himself and become a responsible adult. Personally, I'd rather watch the wedding of this couple, who, in their own ways, embody the get-on-with-it spirit that Britons are justifiably proud of, than sit through the insulting, formulaic romantic comedies that Hollywood keeps churning out.

It's Reality TV Without the Sordid Stupidity
Everybody knows that Prince Charles' marriage with Diana ended up being an unhappy union for both parties, but it necessarily wasn't dour and depressing on the day they tied the knot. Even if we know that Diana's life turned out to be different from the blissful existence she'd imagined for herself, the wedding was still pretty to watch, and it even had a certain innocence about it. And, as is the case with most reality shows, these weddings involve real, flesh-and-blood people (even if, as is the case with the typical reality shows, most of what occurs is carefully scripted). This isn't just a public spectacle, it's the nuptials of a couple who have been in love for a long time. It matters to them and their families. And for those of us at home, we'll be watching for those human moments (as when Diana fumbled Charles' long list of middle names at the altar), the moments that confirm that William and Kate are, in the words of the celebrity magazine, just like us (only very, very famous).

It's a Costume Drama With Very Expensive Costumes
For those of us who can't resist any movie or miniseries involving frock coats and Empire-waist dresses, the wedding promises to be a feast for the eyes. Uniforms reminiscent of Gilbert & Sullivan, expensive gowns and ridiculous hats are sure to be on display, and frankly, if the William-and-Kate Show is not even a little bit reminiscent of a fancy party on 'Downton Abbey,' I will demand my money back. But seriously, I must admit to a burning desire to see Kate's wedding dress (surely it won't be a Diana-reminiscent fluffy confection, given Kate's up-to-date fashion sense), and the outfits of the guests are sure to start a lot of chatter on my favorite fashion blogs. Agreed, it's frivolous to get lost in a princess-for-a-day fantasy, but please tell me how fantasy baseball isn't frivolous. We each have our thing, and mine happens to involve tiaras.

Mockery
Speaking of the fashion, there will be a lot of upper-class twits and semi-famous celebrities at this shindig; aside from Diana (and even she got it wrong sometimes), these society page types are not necessarily known for their unassailable, forward-thinking sartorial choices. Part of the enjoyment of reality television comes from judging people, and even if Queen Liz is the Helen Mirren of the royal family (I think she's swell no matter what she wears, and I'd kill for one of Liz's boxy handbags), it's open season on everyone else. Come on, English aristocracy -- don't let us down now! Bring on the weird shoes, the clunky dresses and the insane headgear! Give us something to make fun of!

Bonus reason: I heard from a reliable source, i.e., an English person on Twitter, that some U.K. citizens are getting the day off for William and Kate's wedding day. Nobody's advocating the return of a full-on monarchy, but ... a day off! What's not to love about that?


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Robert McGovern

Watched the wedding via CNN (only English option in the German hospital I'm at) and they did a grand job of a magnificent occasion.

I was fearing the worst with Richard Quest, but a couple hours before the wedding we swapped to Anderson Cooper, Piers Morgan abd Cat Deeley and they did an awesome job. Other than once talking over a hymn (grr Anderson)

The pageantry was spot on, the dress was class abd the bride stunning. Two thumbs up here

April 29 2011 at 8:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
KathyB

My local paper now has RoyalWeddingBingo board showing up on its website. But, you have probably seen this already

http://media.kentucky.com/smedia/2011/04/27/16/RoyalWeddingBingo.source.prod_affiliate.79.pdf

anything to help keep the momentum building :)

April 28 2011 at 5:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Karen Lawler

I can confirm as a resident of this fair isle (though an american) that we get the day off tomorrow. We also get the day off monday for May Day, had the day off Friday and Monday of last week for Easter, and I took off 3 days in the middle. So I have 11 days of holiday for the price of 3. Plus 25 days of vacation overall. And my mother wants me to move back to the US, pah! But I digress.

The American media seems keen to say that Americans are more excited about the wedding than Brits, but as I understand it they're setting up a huge screen in hyde park, and a few friends are pitching their blankets in Green Park in the wee hours to get a good seat...

April 28 2011 at 12:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
KathyB

Mo,have fun watching and mocking and enjoying the spectacle. At least it lasts long than my state's signature event. The Kentucky Derby race lasts two minutes. We manage to string everything out as long as possible, however.

I have an unhealthy addiction to election returns, but mainly in my home state. To each her own :)

April 27 2011 at 7:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Craig Ranapia

It's almost like that Revolution thingy and the War of 1812 never happened. Seriously, there are worse things you can do with your time than watch the nuptials of William Mountbatten-Windsor and Kate Middleton. Still, I can understand why some folks in Britain are a little ticked off at the eye-watering amounts of public money being spent while everyone else -- from public schools and hospitals to the BBC -- are having their budgets Freddy Krugered.

"I heard from a reliable source, i.e., an English person on Twitter, that some U.K. citizens are getting the day off for William and Kate's wedding day."

Hah, my cousin (who lives in London) forwarded me a polite but threatening e-mail from her boss than anyone who doesn't show up to work on the 29th shouldn't bother coming in on Monday unless they have a medical certificate. Scary yet charming. :)

April 27 2011 at 5:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
apoloniawstbr

Mo, please tell us what network you recommend for coverage. I already know that I don't want ABC or CBS. I'm leaning toward BBC-----only problem is that they are not HD on Comcast. Would REALLY appreciate your help.

April 27 2011 at 1:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to apoloniawstbr's comment
Mo Ryan

Oooh, tough one. I'd say BBC, but you might also go with ABC, they seem to have the best commentator lineup. I'm going to flip around a bit and see which coverage I like best. Can you get BBC in regular definition? Or is it too muddy to watch that way (i.e., bad picture)?

April 27 2011 at 2:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ðan Sauvé

as a Canadian, I know who my next 2 Heads of State will be
one day Prince Charles and Prince William
will be crowned Kings of Canada
currently they are Heirs to the Canadian Throne which is
in the Red Senate Chamber
of Her Majesty's Canadian Parliament
its been interesting watching the lives of my 2 future Heads of State
over the years so
yes I will be watching the wedding as well
Her Majesty's loyal Canadian subject
Dan

April 27 2011 at 1:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Connie

You have it right, Maureen. Spot on. YES! I, too, am getting up very early to watch the wedding of William and Kate. Good list of reasons, though, like you, no one else has to watch to make me happy, I'll be just fine on my own. TRIVIA: Friday has been declared a Banking Holiday in Great Britain so the entire nation has the day off to celebrate. QUESTION: What channel are you going to watch? I have my DVR set for CNN and BBCAmerica (it will be the live feed from BBC One!) and will probably go back and forth between channels. Both will have great shots. Piers Morgan and Anderson Cooper are two of the CNN hosts -- Anderson Cooper is fun at this type of event (I believe he still has not recovered from seeing Joan Rivers at the church for the wedding of Charles and Camilla.) and Piers Morgan is an insider. I don't know the BBC hosts but then again, they ARE the BBC! ANOTHER QUESTION: Will you be drinking tea? Munching on biscuits? I am a tea drinker and will have an appropriate snack for the duration. Be sure to make your tea properly and to warm the pot. DON'T TELL ANYONE: My little Shih Tzu, Rose, will be joining me to watch the wedding, though I'm not sure she'll mind napping some. I may even wear my best bathrobe for the occasion!

April 27 2011 at 12:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Connie's comment
Connie

Clarification: I will be watching the wedding live, absolutely, starting at 3 AM. I'm using the DVR so that I can replay something, or watch the other channel later in the day, or to cover me in case - gasp! - I nod off for a second or two. I am setting the alarm to go off hourly as a backup. I did that 30 years ago for the wedding of Charles and Diana, and I'm doing it Friday!

April 27 2011 at 1:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mo Ryan

I will be drinking tea, naturally! I think I'm leaning toward BBC for coverage, and if I can get some biscuits in the house, all the better :)

April 27 2011 at 2:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
TAUSIF

I just don't think we need another event glorifying the English monarchy. The founding father's fought against this opulent (mostly) inbred lunancy.

We have a couple in the White House right now that screams regal without actually being regal. I like my officials elected.

The only reason I would care about this wedding is if on their honeymoon William and Kate work to uncover more landmines like Prince Diana.

In response to your bonus reason your british person on twitter is right according to Daniel Radcliffe. When he was on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon he said that Americans are more excited about the wedding than the Brits are and that he was more excited about the *four day* weekend as the following Monday is also a holiday for the country.

April 27 2011 at 12:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Alex K

Finally European TV has something for which you have to get up early. One year ago I was up at 6 o'clock watching the (amazing) "Lost" finale. But the wedding? Not even at lunchtime.

http://twitter.com/AlexYacht

April 27 2011 at 12:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Alex K's comment
Connie

Reread Maureen's comments on "Mockery." Maybe you'll want to reconsider!

April 27 2011 at 12:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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