As William and Kate await honeymoon, Britain's monarchy enjoys its own
The newly anointed Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have yet to leave on their official honeymoon – leading to much speculation about its destination – but the royal family is having their own moment in the sun.
Millions of people worldwide watched your wedding last Friday. Prime ministers, Sir Elton John, and the Beckhams were in attendance. Kisses before thronging masses at Buckingham Palace topped it all as the sun came out.
Then you spend a “cozy weekend” at home? And you go to work Tuesday? What could be more down to earth?
The wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, is lauded as the first royal “love marriage” – a union of the son of Princess Diana and a radiant commoner that wasn't of monarchical interests. A week after the wedding the online rumor mill buzzes about the location of their honeymoon. Will it be a secret Indian Ocean hideaway? Many also speculate the couple delayed their honeymoon due to Osama bin Laden's killing.
But whenever the royal getaway happens and wherever they go, the monarchy's moment in the sun isn't likely to set anytime soon.
Before last week's wedding, much of the talk around the royal spectacle revolved around how important the union was to the monarchy at a time of crushing fiscal austerity, budget cuts, and lagging British interest in a monarchy which is divorce-prone and seems dysfunctional as a model of family values.
"The ideas that underpin monarchism would appear to enjoy scant support," wrote the Guardian's Jonathan Freedland in The New York Review of Books prior to the wedding. Yet the royalists rallied closer to the April 29 wedding, suggesting that ideas aren't everything. Feeling and tradition count, too.
Now, William and Kate are the first and third most popular royals, separated in polls by the enduring figure of the Queen. The wedding polls appear to show that their "real” love affair and wedding has added new life to the old monarchy. The “fairy tale” aspect of a Cinderella bride is working.
Even Hollywood, where the royal couple are expected to vacation after an official trip to Canada, is cooperating this season. “The King’s Speech” was the Oscar winner for best picture, a story of a smart and independent commoner coming to the aid of King George V to help him understand friendship and to ease his stammer in the dark hours ahead of World War II and the London Blitz.
The big question ahead of the wedding day was whether the monarchy could survive the modern age. Yet polls show 70 percent of Britons support the royals, and analysts say that there’s little proactive effort by republicans to end it. Inertia will keep the family on the ornamental throne, if nothing else. The buzz in London is to have William’s father, Prince Charles, defer to his son in the succession. But who knows.
For now, the Queen offers stability and continuity. There’s real support for the symbolic enterprise of royalty that represents a mystic bond between land, king, and people.
Jane Bauer, a retiree who came from southwest Britain with her husband and parked herself under the balcony at Buckingham Palace to catch the kiss, says with a quiet conviction that seems to well up from the island nation’s history: “The queen will hold things together. I can’t imagine England without a monarchy, it wouldn’t be England anymore!”