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The Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton - a Special Day For British History
The wedding of HRH Prince William to Kate Middleton was a hugely speculated event, taking place at 11.00 British summer time on April 29, 2011. It was the most important royal wedding for thirty years, and estimated to have been watched by around 2 billion viewers worldwide - at a third of the world's population, it is an astronomical figure. It was also an important turning point for the British Monarchy - in recent years, support had been dwindling for the Royal Family, and patroism had hit a low.
In the end it didn't rain, and as the happy couple emerged from Westminster Abbey, the sun even put in an appearance. Hundreds of thousands of people desperate for a view of the couple flocked to central London in person, with tents, barbeques, picnics and flags. There were elderly people with memories of past occasions; families with young children; teenagers; foreign tourists just wanting to get in on the action; even well-wishers dressed as the Queen. Indeed, there were people from all walks of life, joining together to create a real feeling of community for this special day. Perhaps this was the most special point of all, because over the decades we have certainly lost much of our community spirit - many of us don't know our neighbours and we have little interaction with those outside our close-knit circles. We walk on the same soil, yet we all lead our own separate lives, rarely coming together as a nation.
We may think, at times, that real patroism is all but lost to the historical seas. But then, something happens that shows us that under the surface it is still very much alive and kicking after all. Yesterday, the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton did just that. As the day unfolded, it seemed that all but the most cynical of us were hooked on the marriage of this prolific young couple - even those who were initially not that interested. I'm not ashamed to admit that I was one of those - I certainly did not realise that, having turned on the TV to catch highlights such as the arrival of the bride, the vows and the anticipated kiss, I would be rendered completely transfixed for nearly four hours. Indeed, the whole wedding was like a magical spell; a real journey into a modern day fairytale. It cast a spell on the entire nation, whether there in person or not.
The Resplendent Bride
Kate Middleton was nothing less than resplendent, in a lacy dress by Sara Burton, head designer at the Alexander McQueen Fashion House. Much of the popularity of the Royal Wedding must surely come down to the public's immediate acceptance and approval of this beautiful young woman. Certainly, the nation seems to have taken her to their hearts, in a manner pehaps comparable to the public support for the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Kate comes across as a very natural and open woman, which immediately strengthens her bond with the common citizen on the street. Real beauty is not skin deep, but shines through the eyes and smile of a person. Yesterday, Kate Middleton cames across to the public as beautiful, dignified and very human.
Love and Sincerity
Of course, Prince William himself is extremely popular with the general public, as is his brother, Prince Harry. William and Harry both come across as fun-loving, genuine and down-to-earth royals. Yesterday's wedding was undoubtedly the most important event in many years for the Royal Family, as it breathed an air of new life and hope into the British Monarchy. The change was much-needed, as increasing numbers of people had begun to think of the Royal Family as stuffy, outdated and unnecessary. But change has ignited people's opinions, and I believe Prince William, heir to the throne, and his beautiful new bride will revive public support for the Royal Family.
The wedding was traditional, but the love was very obvious. The bride and groom stole many intimate glances at one another, and their smiles and the sincerity in their eyes made no secret of their closeness. It was, in all essence, the perfect day. There were many highlights, but the horse and carriage journey down the mall and back to Buckingham Palace was a wonderful and magical scene and one of the main reasons so many people (estimated at 1 million) made the journey into central London to watch events unfold in person. The bride and groom's carriage was open-topped, giving spectators a fantastic view, and the horses were a splendid and regal sight.
Of course, the much anticipated kiss on the balcony was one of the main highlights - after the mall was cleared the barriers were removed to allow the public close access. The mood was ambient, and many members of the public interviewed by TV reporters declared the journey well worth all the effort. As William and Kate appeared on the balcony the crowd cheered their undulating support. The couple kissed, with William looking happy but slightly embarrassed, and Kate looking ecstatically bemused by the response. A second kiss came later - the kiss of a dedicated couple free from airs and graces. After all, love is love whether or not you are a royal.
For those not there in person, the televised BBC series paved the way for celebrations up and down the country. Planned street parties broke out somewhere in almost every town and city, bringing together neighbours, friends and generations. At a street party I visited, I saw an elderly lady who looked to be about 90, sitting at the long table. I thought of how she must remember so much, and how, to her, this day was probably reminiscent of many occasions that had gone before. VE Day, the Queen's Jubilee, the Wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana. The street party is an event barely seen in the United Kingdom during the last 30 years, meaning that most of the younger generations will have no memories of such celebrations. The street party that I visited was not on a residential street and I did not stay for a long time as my toddler son (who really wanted his face painted but was struck by shyness) made a break on his scooter. However, there was something special about the flags, the twenty-somethings playing Twister, the messy children drawing on the pavement with giant chalks and the band singing from an upstairs window. Street parties unite communities in a way that is not about money or material gain, but about simply being together. Somehow, we had almost lost that art. And then something came along to remind us.
We can't, of course, predict the future, but it certainly seems as though William and Kate, now known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, have set out on their journey together in the best way possible. Love can't be disguised, and their warm-hearted connection with the public ensures that they have begun married life with the support of the country firmly behind them. There will still be cynics, but then there always are. By and large, the Royal Wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton is an occasion to go down history as the day hope was revived for the British Monarchy.