Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Pains?

How should one think of or respond to the British Royal Wedding? Answers to that question would likely be all over the map. Many, including a vast majority of Brits (80% according to recent polls) would say its all a total waste of time and money, an irrelevance. In fact, Americans on the whole seem to be more taken with the royal fairy tale than are the Brits. Depending on my mood at any given moment, I might well agree with the naysayers.

However, as I awoke this morning at the crack of nine, I spent some time while breaking my nightly fast and sipping my Maxwell House watching the rehashing of the morning's events in London. It appears that it was all quite lovely and went off with nary a hitch. How does one put it all into any kind of measured perspective?

We now live in an age where there are no heros. There is no magic. We've all come to understand, if begrudgingly, that everyone is human. That kings and queens, princes and princesses, presidents, dictators and celebrities of all shapes and sizes are all too human; subject to all the same failings and foibles that plague us all. None of them have been sprinkled with good fairy dust. Few are able to rise above it all. With the advent of the 24/7 news cycle and the constant, pervasive scrutiny of the paparazzi, royals, politicians and celebrities are able to maintain only the barest of privacy in their lives. Consequently, most at some time or other find themselves exposed to the world - warts and all. It is often the cost of fame and fortune.

When one considers what is going on around the planet at any given time, a lavish celebration like that now taking place in London presents a conundrum. There is an obvious disconnect. While the royal newlyweds ride in a 109 year old carriage, smiling and waving at the thousands of onlookers lining the London streets, as they make their way from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace, thousands of people in the American south are reeling from the effects of hundreds of deadly tornados. Thousands of Haitians are still living in what amounts to little more than ramshackle leantos perilously teetering on bare hillsides in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake of well more than a year ago. Thousands of Japanese remain homeless, hundreds remain missing and the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant remains a danger to the entire country as a result of their own earthquake and the devastating tsunami. People are being killed by warring in Libya and in anti-government demonstrations in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East and Africa. Not to mention the difficulties currently facing Brits on their own homefront with a flagging economy and drastic government cut backs. Obviously, I could go on, and this is always the case. It's difficult to reconcile such onerous events with ostentatious royal weddings.

Kate and William's nuptuals provide at least a brief respite from the more down and dirty realities of life. It is a welcome distraction for a lot of people. It's easy to criticize, but look at the billions of dollars we humans spend on "distractions:" sporting events, movies and plays, musical concerts and recordings, television, books and magazines, and literally hundreds of other hobbys and leisure activities. Few are free. I guess the occasional grand royal "wedding of the century" with all its pomp and circumstance, its high fashion and finery, isn't such a bad thing.