"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Lessons From The Royal Wedding

Royal Wedding of William and Catherine Duke & ...Image by Defence Images via Flickr

I haven't got a television. This meant that I "missed" the royal wedding. I realize that for some, the allure of getting up at 4 am to watch a state event from a different country seems a bit thin at best, perhaps even verging on insane. I never claimed to be normal. My friends are just as kooky as I am which makes me feel that this breed of insanity is quite within the realm. They were: creating authentic high tea for granddaughters, setting alarm clocks for early hours and hauling their children out of bed to watch the wedding, TiVo-ing the entire thing and then watching and re-watching it with family over the next week or more, discussing all the details of the day endlessly together, wearing union jacks for the day and even getting out their own wedding dresses to celebrate. I hav
e cool friends. Cool, kooky friends.

Royal Wedding of William and Catherine Duke & ...Image by Defence Images via Flickr
All that to say, I felt not at all beyond the pale when I finally got around to YouTubing my way through the ceremony in great detail myself...(replaying the key moments perhaps) and spending the rest of the day thinking about it I have some thoughts. I know that monarchy is out-dated historically, but I really feel like there is something lovely about it anyhow. Something morale boosting, something culturally lifting, and as an onlooker, it feels a little otherworldly as well. (in a good way)

After musing on the whole concept of the royal wedding all day here are my take-aways:
  • Practice makes perfect...there's no shame in practicing to remove the hiccups from jobs done in public that present an image by which you will be judged. I was impressed to hear Catherine recite so smoothly the litany of Williams many names and then later read that Diana stumbled over Charles' when it was her own turn. Not to knock Diana or the concept of human error or relaxation....I firmly believe in grace and forgiveness at these times. It is admirable to hear that Catherine and William worked so tirelessly to iron out the wrinkles. I would like to take more time to prepare when I have sticky words to pronounce publicly or an important visual I am going to present. Note to self: practice smiling gracefully. I always grin far to wide for pictures and find that I end up with photos of me with no lips, bared teeth, squinting eyes and a giant blue vein popping up on my forehead. It's the little things and a bit of conscious practice that make people appear polished and elegant. Be done with the idea that some are just naturally elegant and that you and I cannot be among that number.
  • Being old fashioned is not "out." I thought the classical vows that the couple took and the timeless wedding attire were so lovely. Catherine used the "quaint" Victorian language of flowers to select a symbolic bouquet, bridal decorations and the sugar blossoms for the wedding cake. She wore a tiara that was a royal family heirloom. She continued the tradition of carrying a sprig of Queen Victoria's myrtle in her bouquet. They chose a carriage as their transport, cathedral to palace. They came across as elegant and ageless, not in the least bit twee or matronly. We needn't update every little thing to be fashionable and modern....sometimes the old ways are best.
  • A little warmth and respect buys you goodwill now and freewill later. I find this one so helpful that I might even tack it up on the wall. I am generally warm and respectful but I forget that part of why you do so is so that eventually you will be in a position to be able to exert freewill and do so without offense. The Queen is a bit of a controlling woman...it is sort of her job. I'm sure she can be quite intimidating. Instead of either bowing completely to her wishes or flagrantly defying her left and right, Catherine wisely came to her for crash courses in "princessing," communicated often and regular with her new family, worked symbols of the royal family into the wedding ceremony and even had lunch with Camilla--notepad in hand, taking down the ideas and suggestions she had to offer. Once she had done all of this then when the queen sent specific orders for how she wanted the wedding to go Catherine had created enough goodwill to not raise a fuss when she sent word that she'd rather wear her hair down thank you, and that the royal couple had chosen to travel leave the cathedral in a carriage instead of a car. I need that kind of grace + fortitude. I am all warmth and then no resolve in relation to other people. She inspires me.
  • Humility and regal dignity are sweet companions. I thought it was wonderful that Catherine chose to line the sides of the cathedral aisle with live maple trees in pots specifically because they symbolize humility. I also thought the direct but not performing acknowledgement the newlyweds gave to onlookers was lovely and impressive. They were elegant and regal without being showy or sneeringly proud. So often if feels like people who work on humility don't know how to be graceful and give themselves dignity and then again, those who have great dignity or personal pride don't know how to be warm and humble in relating to others. 
  • Less is more. Such a cliche, green, modern idea in some ways but all too true. Catherine didn't need a tumbling orchid laden arrangement, her admittedly small bouquet and simple dress and veil were elegant and also showed that she and William had nothing to prove by appearing ostentatious. How do you "dress up" Westminster Abbey anyhow? Just as they did...with subtle, elegant touches....nothing over the top and nothing too wild. And really, some of the wedding guests with those outrageous hats? I'm sure they meant to look edgy and impressive but they just came off as over the top and very, very silly looking.
  •  Don't fight technology. I am impressed by how very technologically embracing the royal family has been concerning the wedding. They have tweeted, posted Flikr photos, started a website, streamed live footage and accepted email comments and well-wishes. They have been thoroughly modern in every way and yet never cheapened themselves or the solemnity of the occasion. This bought them a lot of goodwill with regular people, gave them a lot more publicity and visibility and it also gave William the tool his mother never had....an element of control over the press. By running his own, pointed PR campaign he is avoiding reinventing the wheel. Poise + technological sophistication is a great recipe.
Prince William and Catherine Middleton - First...Image by k-ideas via Flickr
And I'm sure there are more lovely nuggets to glean from this important historical thumbtack in the timeline of our lifetimes....and maybe later I'll think of them. But for tonight, that's all I've got.
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