Polls suggest the British are utterly indifferent to the Royal Wedding. Whether you share their disdain, seeing this scorn expressed in a country with a centuries-old tradition of well-turned insults is its own pleasure. Here, some highlights.
Christopher Hitchens, writing in Slate, is probably the most ubiquitous stateside exemplar of the tradition. (Ignore his recent naturalization as a U.S. citizen). Here he is cataloguing the illustrious family into which Kate marries:
Princess Margaret later married and divorced a man she did not love and then had years to waste as the model of the bone-idle, cigarette-holdered, gin-sipping socialite, surrounded with third-rate gossips and charmers and as unhappy as the day was long. (She also produced some extra royal children, for whom something to do had to be found.) Prince Charles, subjected to a regime of fierce paternal harangues and penitential cold-shower boarding schools, withdrew into himself, was eventually talked into a calamitous marriage with someone he didn't love or respect, and is now the morose, balding, New Age crank and licensed busybody that we flinch from today.
... Convinced republican that I am, and foe of the prince who talks to plants and wants to be crowned "head of all faiths" as well as the etiolated Church of England, I find myself pierced by a pang of sympathy. Not much of a life, is it, growing old and stale with no real job except waiting for the news of Mummy's death?
The Guardian's Victoria Coren also offers a royal taxonomy, but openly desires their "bizarre, comical glory," including "Prince Andrew, fivers tumbling out of his back pocket, tricked into attending on the promise that Westminster Abbey has a golf course," and "Prince Edward, just because it's always hilarious to remember he exists." She wonders why her countrymen aren't similarly compelled, and floats some theories:
A nine-year courtship is undramatic, unthrilling. People weren't hooked by the story, I theorised, so they just put it down after a few chapters, much as I did with We Need To Talk About Kevin.
"You're quite wrong," a friend of mine said the other day. "The reason nobody is showing any interest is because we're all so embarrassed by the Diana business."
The Diana business?
"All that sobbing in the street and leaving flowers," she went on. "The mass hysteria. The wall-to-wall coverage. Britain went mad for weeks. It was like we'd been drugged. Then we all came to our senses and now everyone looks back with terrible embarrassment and never wants to show interest again. It's like getting drunk and phoning someone you've just met to shriek that you love him. Forever after, you have to act as if you don't care whether he lives or dies –- just to make it look like a blip, rather than full-on lunacy."
Ladies and gentlemen, a nation-wide drunk dialing hangover. The New Statesman's columnist writing under the pseudonym Gideon Donald was more literal about the role of alcohol. The wedding is
the chance for the Great British populace to do what it arguably does best: watch a bit of telly and then get hog-whimperingly tight for a long weekend. It is another of those "we all can't remember where we were" moments that becomes imprinted on what passes for the national consciousness.
It's not clear if that played into the thinking of Rev Pete Broadbent, Bishop of Willesden, who got himself in trouble for applying his ire too openly towards his technical boss's family on Facebook, including the following:
‘I managed to avoid the last disaster in slow motion between Big Ears and the Porcelain Doll, and I hope to avoid this one too.'
Guardian columnist Hadley Freeman has little patience for this attitude:
There are few things more tedious than people who insist that they are above something when the rest of the country is suffused with festive spirit. What are you, a goth teenager sulking in your room to The Cure on Christmas Day? And did you have fun when you did that? In fact, weren't you surprised when you finally left your room and found that, actually, playing Pictionary with your parents while wearing a paper crown and stuffing crisps into your gob was a much more enjoyable way to spend the day (disgust with religion, forced enjoyment and your stupid family who never understood you aside, of course)?"
The choice is yours. Are you a goth teenager or a fervent Pictionary player?
What To Wear To The Royal Wedding [Guardian]
Does Kate Middleton Really Want To Marry Into A Family Like This? [Slate]
Why I Shall Be Up At Dawn To Watch The Royal Family In All Its Bizarre Glory [Guardian]
Bishop Who Said Kate And William's Marriage Would Be Over In Seven Years Apologises [Daily Mail]