I got up early and baked scones on the day of the Royal Wedding. I watched the entire ceremony, from the entrance of Beckham and Posh to the recessional when the young couple stepped out of Westminster Abbey and waved to the crowd.
I thought they did a great job — putting on a wedding that was huge but had its moments of intimacy — a ceremony that was traditional and dignified as well as beautiful and heart lifting. And, the hard part, the two stars of the show seemed to enjoy it.
There were some things that those of us who grew up in a republic could never look forward to. Tiaras. I thought the tiara lent by the queen could have been one of her fancier ones --if tiaras can be plain — but I suppose this one has the sentimental value of having been worn by Elizabeth, and then Elizabeth and finally Catherine Elizabeth as young women.
Trees. Lining the aisle of the abbey with trees leafed out in beautiful spring green was inspired. Like walking down a path in a beautiful park — except that instead of the vault of heaven there was Gothic-groined cross vaulting overhead.
Boy sopranos. I suppose we Americans could manage that, but these days we probably wouldn't — unfair to little girls. But listening to those little boys sing could break your heart.
A maid of honor named Pippa. That's utterly English. And this sister of the bride wrangled the train and the littlest bridesmaids with good grace and never the tiniest crease in her very beautiful and simple gown. Under the general heading of impossibility should probably go the athletic slenderness of these two uncommon commoners. Again, we in America could do that but, sad to say, most of us don't.
The other thing that is so striking about this Royal Wedding is that we've seen them before — seen them begin beautifully but end badly. Notably, the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana — but also Charles's aunt, Princess Margaret; his sister, Princess Anne; and his brother, Prince Andrew. All these weddings were lavish and lovely, the brides were tucked into carriages filled with fluffy dresses and veils — they waved from the Palace — and they divorced.
This current couple was admonished several times in their marriage ceremony to remember that their vows are in effect until the end of their lives. Admonished several times. As if the bishops and the Book of Common Prayer were trying to make a point.
That is the most poignant thing about this wedding. Recent history tells us the odds are against them. Those of us who've been married longer than these young people have been on the earth know that marriage isn't easy. Add to that living very public royal lives. Watching the beautiful wedding of William and Kate — we can only hope they have someone a little cozier than his very long married grandparents to help them navigate. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.