How to make Royal Wedding fever last
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