Even Harry & Meghan can’t turn royals hip
Enjoy the royal wedding. I have other things to do.
LONDON — I realize that I’m an outlier on all things royal wedding. Just the other day, a close friend in America texted to ask me what I was doing Saturday afternoon.
“Umm, taking an improv acting class,” I answered. “Like I do every Saturday. Why?”
“Why?” she repeated, three eye-rolling emojis materializing on my screen. “It’s the Royal Wedding!” Like countless others, she plans to wake at 4 a.m. Saturday ET to see the entire rigmarole.
When it comes to Prince Harry’s marriage to Meghan Markle, there are those like Sarah Jessica Parker and the British press corps, who are over the moon. And then there are the few, the proud, the ones like me who really wish the whole thing would just go away. Don’t get me wrong. I loved the film
The Queen. The Crown is a terrific television show. And I devoured Hilary Mantel’s brilliant novel Wolf Hall about King Henry VIII. So it’s not that I’ve got something against the royalty per se, at least as represented in popular culture. It’s the real thing that gets to me.
Part of it is the media frenzy that surrounds such occasions. The Daily
Telegraph, one of Britain’s largest newspapers, has a countdown to the wedding (to the very last second) on its website. A British expert on body language has produced a video dissecting the body language between the happy couple. Among other penetrating insights, he notes how Meghan’s wave has nicely evolved from “red carpet” to “royal” as she “grows into her new role.”
Jezebel’s Kelly Faircloth captures this mania beautifully: “For reporters covering the royals, the last of Diana’s children getting married is like a total solar eclipse, or some unfathomably rare plant that blooms once a century.”
And of course, the frenzy isn’t just confined to the United Kingdom. As
Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland observed at the last royal wedding in 2011, to the U.S., “Britain remains more period drama than real country, a Ruritanian theme park that is forever charming and quaint.”
In April, Vanity Fair ran a royal wedding “flashback” series, recounting tales such as Charles and Diana’s illfated romance. Lifetime has released a fictional film entitled Harry & Meghan:
A Royal Romance. After all the media hype devoted to this couple, do we really need a fake version of their lives, too?
Then there’s the price tag. Harry’s wedding may be less elaborate than the one for his brother and future king, Prince William — but the total cost is estimated at upwards of £32 million (roughly $43 million). This figure includes things like £90,000 for 20 silverplated trumpets to announce the event and £50,000 for the lemon elderflower wedding cake. It also includes police and security costs of about £30 million, all of which will be covered by the taxpayer — i.e., me. (I hold British as well as U.S. citizenship.)
Not to go all sanctimonious on you, folks, but ... srsly? As my late Irish grandmother might say: “There are people starving in India!”
Which brings us to that delicate, ohso-English question of class. Kate Middleton (now the duchess of Cambridge) already blew the whole class thing wide open seven years ago by being the daughter of — gasp! — a flight dispatcher and a flight attendant. It was the first time in over 350 years that a commoner married a prince so close to the throne.
Meghan, of course, does Kate one better by being: a) American; b) divorced and c) biracial. Her diverse background is a wonderful thing. And she and Prince Harry seem like a perfectly nice young couple in love. But their union allows Brits to cultivate a narrative that in opening up the royalty to an outsider, they are transforming this notoriously aristocratic institution into something un-elitist.
Really? I beg to differ. I take my cues here from Hamilton (The Musical).
King George III is rendered as snobbish, foppish and woefully out of touch with the day-to-day realities back in the colonies. Just because there is now a princess of color, we should not assume that the royals are any less obsolete.
I will concede that I am genuinely excited about one thing this week: the swag. Last time around, I fell in love with the Kate and William knit-yourown royal wedding kit. This time, I’m partial to the Harry and Meghan’s Wedding Rings cereal. (The “rings” in question being multigrain hoops.)
Who knows? Maybe I’ll buy some to snack on in acting class Saturday.