The British Empire may not be what it once was, but the House of Windsor holds symbolic sway. Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state of Britain and 15 commonwealth realms, including Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
"Before the 20th century, a royal wedding was a largely private thing. They really weren't public spectacles," says Noel Cox, chief of the legal department at Aberystwyth University in Wales. "The reason it changed was, with lost political power the monarchy reinvented its function, no longer political but symbolic. It provided entertainment."