In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free,
While God is marching on!


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A New Royal FAMILY!

I know that guys aren't supposed to pay any attention to such stuff, but I was enthralled by last week's "Royal Wedding" uniting Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine ("Kate") Middleton, now Duchess of Cambridge. I was only able to see Kate's arrival at Westminster Abbey and her walk down the aisle to the altar, and the singing of Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer (one of my favorite hymns) before I had to leave home for work. But I was later able to see the entire spectacle, including the wedding ceremony itself, on YouTube.

Many Americans dismissed the wedding as silly and irrelevant, but not me. Being a history enthusiast and a romantic, I'm naturally absorbed by any event that features an ancient land and culture, breathtaking architecture (Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace), stirring music, colorful military regalia, a dashing young nobleman, a beautiful young lady, an Archbishop (of Canterbury), dukes and earls, several Princes, a Queen, and so on. Great Britain is America's mother country and the ultimate source of our language, literature, and legal institutions, so what happens there is, or should be, of great interest to us. And who can forget the heroic, solitary struggle of the British against the Axis in the early years of World War Two, under the leadership of the redoubtable Winston S. Churchill?

Even more compelling to me was the hope, perhaps even the promise, of a new Royal FAMILY (emphasis on the latter word) to model love, nurturing, and self-sacrifice for Britain and the whole world. Can you imagine these things actually becoming fashionable? Few indeed are the couples who can uplift a whole people, and promote family-building, society-strengthening values, just by being good spouses and parents. William and Kate (I'll dispense with their royal titles) have a chance to do so, and I just get the feeling that they might pull it off. The United Kingdom (UK) and the whole Western world desperately need a shining example of family strength. British royals of the recent and more distant past haven't done a very good job of this--Queen Victoria and Prince Albert being a notable exception, at least for a while--but something about Kate and William makes me more hopeful.

Maybe it's the aura of graceful self-confidence that Kate projects; she impresses me as a mature woman in command of herself and her life (in contrast to the fragile vulnerability of William's mother Diana at the time of her marriage), yet generous and sensitive to others, not self-absorbed or vain. She comes from a middle class family with roots (on her mother's side) in England's coal-mining country; what wealth her parents have was earned in their own start-up business, not inherited. She and her siblings and parents seem to have a harmonious relationship. Kate even showed a bit of maternal instinct when she bent down to console one of her toddler bridesmaids who became upset during "The Kiss" on the Buckingham Palace balcony, as Royal Air Force planes flew over and the crowd became deafening. And she positively beams in the "official" wedding pictures with all those children around her and William. At the same time, she's shown some iron in dealing with the paparazzi, and I believe would fight to maintain a normal family life and keep William "on the reservation," much more effectively than Diana could with Prince Charles.

Another positive aspect of the couple's relationship is its endurance over nearly a decade; they even "broke up" at least once, but reconciled some months later. They know each other well and didn't give up on each other, despite their differences, so should be unusually well-prepared for the realities of marriage. They had years to reflect and weigh what they would give up and what they would gain by marrying, what burdens they would have to shoulder and and what joys they would have. Despite all they've already been through, in public they still seem entirely familiar, natural, and affectionate with each other, and so already exhibit many characteristics of a happily married couple.

I'm not completely naive; I'm aware of the widespread speculation that William and Kate have "known" each other in the, ahem, "Biblical" sense, for some time. Assuming such rumors are true, however, I likewise don't dismiss out of hand the possibility that they came to recognize this as a dead-end street, and that there was a much richer life awaiting them as husband and wife. If the demands of their station and the corrosive effects of modern culture don't overwhelm them, I like to think that they'll embrace the life they've chosen and continue to grow in maturity and wisdom.

I also like to think that the promise of this new family was well expressed in the sermon delivered at the wedding ceremony by Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London:
In a sense every wedding is a royal wedding with the bride and the groom as king and queen of creation, making a new life together so that life can flow through them into the future.

William and Catherine, you have chosen to be married in the sight of a generous God who so loved the world that he gave himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ.

And in the Spirit of this generous God, husband and wife are to give themselves to each another.

* * * *

I pray that God will bless you in the way of life that you have chosen, that way which is expressed in the prayer that you have composed together in preparation for this day:

God our Father, we thank you for our families; for the love that we share and for the joy of our marriage.
In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy. Strengthened by our union help us to serve and comfort those who suffer. We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.
So, please forgive me if I choose to believe in this particular Fairy Tale. If we never believed in fairy tales, none would ever have a chance of coming true. It would be so inspiring, and so good for the UK and the West, if this one did.

One more thing, ladies:


thequeen said...

I am a hopeless romantic, Tom...I love a good fairy tale as well...heck, I am married to my prince charming,your brother!!! Love to all in your fairy tale...xoxoxoxo

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post about the Royal Wedding! I've been a hopeless romantic most of my life (more 'hopeless' than 'romantic' as time's gone on), but I was enraptured by last week's ceremony. And the fact that I was in the UK just a few months ago, and visited Westminster Abbey, and walked through Whitehall and The Mall, makes it all the more meaningful.

I wish William and Kate all the VERY best in their new lives together....and I LOVE the "THERE IS STILL ONE PRINCE LEFT" sign! Where did you find it??