Even though there has been an important death since the wedding, I wonder if I might still add my two cents on Friday’s smashing ceremony in Westminster Abbey.
I was on the road last week, but as an inveterate reader of royal biographies (my vice), I am bursting to share a few thoughts: First of all, it struck me that Princess Diana — who might have brought down the monarchy had she lived much longer — may have saved it for at least another generation. Diana’s son William has rare grace, and he appears to have chosen the right helpmeet.
I do want to slightly take issue with Julia Shaw’s portrait of arranged matches as heartless in an earlier Corner post. True, some are. Flora Fraser’s The Unruly Queen: The Life of Queen Caroline shows royal marriage at its worst — Caroline makes Diana look like a piker when it comes to publicly embarrassing the institution, and Charles looks pretty good compared to George IV! But some succeeded dazzlingly. I love the tribute to his queen that George V wrote in his diary the evening of his coronation: “Darling May looked lovely & it was indeed a comfort to me to have her by my side, as she has ever been to me during these last eighteen years.” George V and Queen Mary had the ultimate arranged marriage: Mary had been chosen for the odious Prince Eddy, so degenerate he was a rumored candidate for Jack the Ripper. She stayed on and married his younger brother when Eddy fortuitously died before he could become king.
But William and Kate are obviously a love match. I hope it is true that he whispered, “You look beautiful, babe,” when she joined him before the high altar. This was their first outing as future monarchs, and it bodes well. They take the job seriously. They are aware of their future subjects. I loved her last turn to wave to the crowd before entering the abbey on the arm of Mr. Middleton (the Middletons all have nice speaking voices, but the girls got the looks). Her wave was that of a woman who will be queen, not a celebrity. I don’t see the new Duchess of Cambridge spilling her guts to Tina Brown, as, alas, Diana once did.
I also loved it when the Archbishop of Canterbury’s hands were shown making sign of the cross over the ring. This entire day boded well for us crypto-monarchists!