For weeks now it has seemed as if the country was holding its breath in anticipation for the moment when Meghan Markle would step out onto the steps of St. George’s Chapel and enter into the world’s most famous royal family.
I was one of those people, eagerly awaiting the royal wedding and filled with excitement in the days leading up to the event. However, I didn’t really understand why I had such strong feelings, especially since those around me had little to no interest. The royal wedding did not mean anything to me on a personal level, I wasn’t seeing myself represented or seeing my culture acknowledged in a British royal wedding. I also don’t think of myself of a royalist; I don’t think the institution should exist in a modern democracy. I’m not a fan of the Queen and am not looking forward to the reign of King Charles III. But for whatever reason, I could not put my feelings of enthusiasm and excitement aside alongside my mother, who despite her staunch American republicanism, cried next me consistently throughout the ceremony.
Royal weddings are a spectacle, a showcase and presentation of the best qualities of a nation. It is often argued that royal weddings and other instances of national excitement provide moments of escape and distraction from the troubles of the world and it is in this that the root of its popularity can be found. However, such an argument can often come across as patronising to the general public and also, kind of misses the point. No one forgets about climate change, the Trump administration or school shootings while they watch a royal wedding or any other form of mindless entertainment. It is better to acknowledge that it is within human nature to be noisy and enjoy a spectacle. And sure, we need moments of levity so we don’t get consumed by the hopelessness that is often presented to us about the current state of the world and society. But, for me, I tuned into the wedding because I wanted to see the dress, the famous guests, Harry look teary-eyed watching Meghan walk down the aisle. I did not watch the wedding because I needed a break from the seemingly endless cycle of bad news. I wanted to enjoy the spectacle of the event and put aside my better judgement and allow myself to be taken along for the ride.
The royal wedding wasn’t meaningful because it provided distraction during a societally depressing time. Nor was it a sign of the modernisation and inclusivity of the royal family or of British society overnight. The royal event was something to enjoy, to take pleasure and indulgence from. I could give that anti-royalist part of my thinking a rest and allow myself to be swept up in the joy and beauty that was being offered to me. So while feelings of indifference and antipathy are understandable, I don’t feel shame in my over-excitement or in my enjoyment of watching it from the comfort of my couch with my family beside me. It was a historic moment that we could all be proud of and glad we were present for.
And, let’s be honest, having Oprah there made the whole thing so much cooler.