The Tiredness of a Royal Wedding Day

30 04 2011

The Tiredness of the Royal Wedding Day

Well yesterday was the great day and we were full of hope and excitement; the day of the Royal wedding had arrived. From early morning TV was bringing us pictures of the gathering crowds and speculation about ‘the dress’ came to the fore every now and then. We were told that about two billion people across the globe would watch this event.  So we watched the great and the good arriving and were eventually rewarded with the sight of the dress.  So far, good stuff.  Britain does excitement well.

Then we came to the Service itself. Of course the crucial part of it was their vows. We were part of a group of about thirty watching it. Most eyes remained faithfully watching throughout but dreary music does not make good television. Yes dreary music! The hymns were expected and traditional but lacked any punch; the singing in a small enthusiastic local church would have been better (the establishment doesn’t allow enthusiasm!). And who chose the rest. Yes, I expect I could pick out one of two bits that might have stood out but basically it was a dirge. Who in their right might thought that the sight of funnily dressed choir boys or, worse, men, singing with apparently zero emotion would convey a picture to the world that would say, “This Christian thing is really good, this is a nation we’d do well to emulate.”  In fact I conclude that as far as the service itself is concerned, mostly, the sooner it is forgotten the better – and I’m sure the rest of the world has already done so. Slow paced, tedious singing that goes on and on, is not the thing to capture the hearts and minds of an unbelieving world. I should think Richard Dawkins was chortling all the way to the atheists’ bank.

But in one sense that was all a lesser thing in the wider perspective. The Times on the day pointed out how most of the Royals have been divorced and we could not help but remember Diana and Charles and the failure by the possible next head of State and head of the Anglican Church.  All our hopes are on William and Kate. Will this couple be able to walk a different path or will they turn out to be the memorial stone for the monarchy of this country?

Now I have been a groom and I have watched a large number of brides and grooms and one thing I am certain of: by the time the vows are over, they are done for! They will be operating on autopilot, and I have said to various couples, you won’t take in what I’m saying so just listen to the tape or see the film afterwards. I say that because Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, did a pretty good job, but what worried me were the looks on the faces of William and Kate.  It may be they were really struggling to hold it together in their tiredness – and if that is so they have my total sympathy – but if the looks that were coming through that tiredness conveyed anything it is worrying for the future. William looked totally indifferent to all that was going on or being said. He looked in another world. Kate looked more interested but not exactly thrilled by what she was hearing. There was no sense of “Let’s listen for this wisdom from the wise leader who might have something to say that might help us in the years ahead.”

So OK, here is a couple who the Times tells us had been living together (before their marriage, as so many godless modern couples do) and who don’t seem to espouse the faith of his grandmother, tolerating the wise words of a senior leader in the national church. If that toleration was born our of shear weariness, that is one thing, but if it is tolerance of another world that has no relevance to ‘me’, then all our hopes may be groundless. The word on the street has it that Diana was seeking spiritual reality before her death. Perhaps if there had only been someone in high places who had a living faith, and who would have spoken to her, she might still be with us today. Is there any such person today who might speak to this young couple? If not, then the pressures of being part of ‘The Firm’ may mean that history repeats itself. May it not be, please!

Thus far Kate has conformed to public wishes and presented a smiling face but if she is to survive, it will need far more than just a smiling face because public expectation and requirements of the job may do a lot to keep that smile in place, even in the face of weariness (of which there will be much if she is to live out the hopes of the British people) but if, underneath that smile, there is not a power and a faith to uphold her and guide her, the future will not be what so many of us are hoping for, and the republicans will win. It doesn’t have to be a faith for public demonstration, but it does need to be a real one. It is not to be faith in the establishment, because we saw the lifeless display they put on yesterday, but it needs to be a faith that brings life to her, to him and hopefully to the nation. Time will tell. William and Kate put on a great show yesterday and we wish them well, it was a good day overall. Pity about the Christian element in it though!  Let’s pray.

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