When Lady Diana Spencer married Prince Charles in 1981 — thirty years ago — 750 million people watched the event on TV. The royal wedding happening next month will be so much bigger.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

An estimated two billion TV viewers will see all or part of the coverage of Prince William and his longtime girlfriend Kate Middleton exchanging vows at Westminster Abbey. Add an expected 400 million for online streaming and radio and the number swells to nearly 35% of the world's population.

Emphasis ours. But just to give you an idea of how epic this will be, "only" 715 million folks watched the 2006 World Cup final game (Italy vs. France) and "only" one billion people watched the 2008 Summer Olympics opening ceremony in Beijing.

Perhaps you think it's absurd. Why should so many human beings living on planet Earth be interested in these two heterosexual people getting hitched? Marriage is a contract, a covenant, an institution. Historically, it often involved a woman becoming the property of her husband; she was expected to swear she would "love, honor and obey" him. Plus, giving a shit about the monarchy? In this day and age? When countries are starting revolutions in the name of democracy? How retro. Declassé.

But think of it this way: Wouldn't you much rather we set a record-breaking viewership for the royal wedding than, say, a soccer game or the Super Bowl? Instead of celebrating a heavily commercialized display of the athletic exploits of men, the royal wedding is about distilling and commemorating a treasured human emotion! Doesn't it speak of the sensitivity we have, as creatures, to become rapt by such a tender and delicate occasion? Sure, it will be a clusterfuck of epic proportions — according to the WSJ, CNN alone will have a team of roughly 125 reporters, cameramen and crew assigned to the wedding. Still. After months of war, natural disasters, death, and despair, we will turn on our televisions on April 29 and see two people saying hey, guess what, I love you, and I want everyone to know. Let's make it official, let's do that thing where two become one. Let's be family. It's not just a royal wedding. It's about hope. It's about wishes. It's about dreams. It's about the future. It's about love.


Also? TLC will air 89 hours of wedding-programming that will include Extreme Royal Collections, "a variation on its popular Hoarding reality show dedicated to collectors of royal memorabilia." So set your DVR.

The Ultimate Reality Show [WSJ]