How to make Royal Wed­ding fever last

Country Life Every Week - - Athena -

IN the af­ter­math of the Royal Wed­ding, Athena has re­peat­edly heard peo­ple talk­ing about the grandeur and hap­pi­ness of the oc­ca­sion. With all that sun­shine and pageantry, tem­pered with ro­mance, there cer­tainly is a warm af­ter­glow to en­joy. More­over, in the light of the wed­ding cel­e­bra­tions, it’s hard to dis­agree with the plat­i­tude that the Bri­tish do pomp and cir­cum­stance well.

It seems to Athena, how­ever, that far too many of the peo­ple who make this ob­ser­va­tion—some­times with ir­ri­tat­ing com­pla­cency—as­sume this is a re­flec­tion prin­ci­pally on the ac­tors who per­form and the props they use; the guard of honour, the car­riages, the out­rid­ers, the pos­til­lions, not to men­tion the cho­ris­ters, the clergy, the crowds and the splen­didly at­tired and glam­orous as­sem­blage of guests. In so do­ing, they il­lus­trate a ter­ri­ble Bri­tish blind­ness: a com­plete in­abil­ity to re­alise one of the main­springs that made the cel­e­bra­tions so mag­nif­i­cent and so Bri­tish—the set­ting in which they took place.

In­deed, when you ac­tu­ally stop to think about it, Wind­sor is a com­pos­ite cre­ation of town, cas­tle, col­lege and park that al­most beg­gars be­lief, a tan­gi­ble and in­sti­tu­tional ex­pres­sion of a mil­len­nium of our his­tory. Of course, the pageantry and per­son­al­i­ties of events such as the Royal Wed­ding an­i­mate it, but the stage on which it was en­acted is—to state the ob­vi­ous—there all the time and it packs an as­ton­ish­ing punch. More­over, it con­tin­ues to change in all kinds of ways as a liv­ing and breath­ing 21st-cen­tury place. As such, it lies within the power of this present gen­er­a­tion to im­prove, erode or even de­stroy it.

Wind­sor may be an un­usu­ally ex­trav­a­gant man­i­fes­ta­tion of our his­tory, but its es­sen­tial qual­i­ties are re­flected to a strik­ing de­gree across Bri­tain in our cities, towns, vil­lages and coun­try­side, our ter­races, cot­tages, coun­try houses and cas­tles, our chapels, churches and cathe­drals. Spe­cial events, even a mod­est sum­mer fête, can help us see these places in ways that we had never ap­pre­ci­ated be­fore, but we should be sen­si­ble to how won­der­ful—and frag­ile—they are on a day-to-day ba­sis.

It’s May, one of the months in which Bri­tain un­doubt­edly looks its best. Who could re­sist the fresh fo­liage on the trees, the wav­ing cow pars­ley and the tow­er­ing horse chest­nuts lit up with tiers of blos­som­ing can­dles? We should try to use the chang­ing sea­son to help us see our fa­mil­iar ar­chi­tec­tural sur­round­ings afresh.

We are in­cred­i­bly lucky to have such a rich built en­vi­ron­ment and it’s not there by chance. If we could en­joy it for what it is, ev­ery day could of­fer us some of the warm­ing plea­sure of the Royal Wed­ding. Af­ter all, it is there all the time.

‘We are very lucky to have such a rich built en­vi­ron­ment and it’s not there by chance ’

Athena Cul­tural Cru­sader

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