I was taken by surprise earlier this week when someone told me that the Royal Wedding was on Friday. Not living in England can have so many advantages. No big build up, no planning of street parties, no TV and tabloid excesses here.... well, unless you count the Real Madrid vs. Barcelona games that have been played for the past two Wednesday evenings. (Madrid won the first game, Barca the second - from the enthusiastic response on the streets on the first Wednesday, I'd take a guess that the people around here are Madrid fans...I had no strong feelings either way.)
Nor have I ever been enthusiastic about the royal family - I find them a comical bunch and if we are all accidents of birth, I don't believe that to be born 'royal' is a blessing. In this age of 'celebrity' and people watching, there is little difference between being royal or being Elton John, Victoria Beckham or Tara Palmer-Tomkinsons...a few names I pick not at random, but because they were all at the wedding...WHY!!??
How do I know? Well, I had assumed that it wouldn't be on Spanish TV and so gave the matter no further thought, but on the Thursday evening, a
TV programme we were watching announced that coverage of the wedding would start the next morning at 10.15. I thought I might give it a quick glance if I got time.
And next day, after I'd taken the children to school, done a bit of shopping
and collected a parcel from the Correos (Post Office) I sat down with a
coffee and put the television on.
I watched it all. I watched until I
had to go and fetch my children from school. Three and a half hours. And at the end, I was quite exhausted and emotional. How could that be?
A friend and fellow blogger, Andy, wrote about his 'confused relationship with royalty' following the wedding. He's a reflective sort who thinks about things and likes to understand what makes him, and others, tick. I started to leave a comment but found I was writing rather a lot - aha, blog material of my own, I thought. So I cut my reply short and said that I'd write more here on my own blog. And it's made me do a little reflecting - very different in style to Andy's thoughts - I haven't tried to understand my feelings about the Royal Family but I have thought a bit about what made the wedding so emotional for me and the choices we make.
What moved me to tears (and would have done whether I was watching a wedding or not) was the wonderful, truly heavenly music that was sung and played throughout the ceremony - from Parry's 'I was glad' - an inspired choice to walk up the aisle to - to modern pieces written by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and John Rutter; and the lovely hymns, 'Love Divine All Loves Excelling' and 'Jerusalem'. I can't say too much more or I'll become too emotional to write. Music does that to me and always has - and to hear it in such a setting with such wonderful voices - well, I was a blubbering wreck. I was so glad I was alone because I know that very few people would understand that it was not - absolutely not - anything to do with the young couple who were getting married. I guess there was too much going on in their heads to really hear the music properly. There was such an overwhelming Englishness to it too, which brought out a relatively dormant patriotic streak in me too...an unexpected emotion.
I did think about William's parents - Charles and Diana - as he and Kate were saying their vows and I hoped that this wedding would not turn out to be such a sham. What we have learned from the press, their own words and subsequent actions about the relationships between Charles, Diana and Camilla casts such a cynical shadow over that particular occasion. I thought about it and it made me rather sad and a bit cross.
And who wouldn't think about their own wedding? I did. Cesar and I married in a beautiful little romanic (and romantic) church in a village near where his parents live. We already had our two boys and had intended to have civil ceremony in Santander the summer of 2002, but it proved too bureaucratic to organise in time. Enter Don Mariano - priest in said village and good friend of Cesar's mother - who waived all complications aside, cut red and purple tape and performed the ceremony with relish and minimal fuss. The only proviso was that I had to be baptised a Catholic as I came into the church, which meant my little walk up the aisle left a dripping trail of holy water behind me (and a less than elegant hair-do!)
Our wedding took place during our summer holiday and to take full advantage of this, we'd driven down from England, through the Channel Tunnel and camped a couple of times overnight in France before arriving in Spain. I brought the wedding cake made by my mum, in a tupperware box, with us which I had to monitor for ant invasion at all times; it must have been giving out a very tempting scent! We sat on a beach one afternoon - I remember it had been overcast but I'd slathered the boys in factor 40 suncream, wiping the excess on my hands casually down each of my own arms. By the following morning, it was clear that the sun had been rather strong after all and I had burnt quite badly including blisters on my shoulders, although I did have rather fetching 'go-faster' white stripes down each arm, where the factor 40 had worked very effectively. The wedding was two days away!
But as usual, I am digressing more than I intended.
Ours was a wedding that was small and intimate and without any music at all - there was no organ in the church, no time to organise an alternative so we had none. Don Mariano sang a bit, I think. And everyone applauded at the end. Which was nice.
Afterwards, we had just the best party ever and I cherish those memories - of my dad dancing in the garden, of Cesar's father singing flamenco-style at the restaurant and how the wedding cake survived and looked wonderful in spite of its long and unusual journey!
So my reflections were not about royalty after all but about the 'personalness' of weddings . Very few people go into marriage lightly - most of us consider it a serious step; most of us want our wedding day to go perfectly. This 'Royal Wedding' was without fault in its timing, its presentation, its organisation and its visual and aural impact. Ours was a lovely,comical, rather impromptu and unaccompanied affair. But the focus of the bride and groom on each other - and the lovely trust and confidence they showed in each other - gave the whole thing an intimacy that struck the chords for me. It really did seem as though there was no one else there - never mind 2 billion pairs of eyes - just them. And that's how I felt at our wedding. I was 'aware' of everyone else; I remember Mateo falling off the pew with a bang on his head; I remember seeing Ruy (just 8 months old) in a different pair of arms every few minutes as he was passed around from one relative to the next but it didn't really matter. Mostly, I remember Cesar and I getting married.
Nothing common about our wedding - we felt like royalty. (Strange, that.)
I am sure that the royalty-loving British public would have made a far bigger outcry if William and Kate had (somehow) married in secret, or away from the public eye than the anti-royalists seem to have done at the public event.
And did they have a choice? Apparently, they made a lot of choices about their wedding. And if they did, then I applaud their choice of music more than their choice of guests.
So, on reflection, I was very emotionally moved by the Royal Wedding. But, it was, without doubt, for the chords that touched me personally - and not any romantic notion of fairy tale weddings.
I don't know if I speak for anyone else on this one.