The Other I

April 29, 2011

Don’t call me Kate

Filed under: Just Stuff,The English — theotheri @ 4:02 pm

Okay, we watched it.  For two hours anyway, from when the guests began arriving at Westminster Abbey — with informed commentary by the BBC about just who designed every dress, hat, pair of shoes, and purse — to the appearance on the palace balcony.  William and Kate (or “Catherine,” as she says she prefers to be called) appeared relaxed and in contact with each other.

For the last week or so, British commentators have been commenting in amazement at the apparently complete lack of cynicism not only of the foreign tourists but from the hardened and seasoned members of the foreign press.  Today the same people were commenting with even greater amazement at the absence of any cynicism by the tens of thousands of British people lining the streets and waiting patiently for a glimpse of the royal party.  Even here in our little village, the church bells peeled all morning from the ancient bell tower.

As for the lack of cynicism, I don’t think either the British or the Americans are seriously naive enough to think that this marriage, or any other marriage, unfolds in fairy-tale fashion.  But it’s a chance to celebrate being British, and to wish them well.   It doesn’t seem any different to me than the music and dancing and foolishness on the streets of America when we are celebrating a patriotic moment – America’s 200th anniversary in 1976, the election of John Kennedy or of Barak Obama, for instance.

During the fifteen years I have been living here, I have changed from thinking that the class system would never be finally broken until the British got rid of their kings and queens to appreciating the value of the monarchy.  Especially this particular monarchy.   I have seen a great political value in having a head of state who is separate from the elected president or prime minister.  And I’ve come to admire the queen and her ability, even at the age of 85, to listen to the changing needs and desires of the people.  I strongly suspect that, of all the royal family, she and her 90-year-old husband, Prince Phillip, are the most relaxed about the fact that Kate and Will have been living together for the last three years.

My favourite story of the day, however, is not about pomp and circumstance.  It is about the mother tweeting that when she called her three-year old daughter, Kate, as usual, to come to breakfast, she responded that her mother, from now on, should call her “Catherine.”

Oh, almost forgot to say that William and Kate are now, among other things, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.  I thought I ought to mention it. They’ve just announced another special bell-ringing gala before Evensong at Orwell church this Sunday.

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5 Comments »

  1. Got up at 3 a.m. to go to a Royal Wedding Viewing Party. It was just fun to celebrate and focus on “Love”. With all the sad news I think most of us were enjoying all the festivities along with you in England. CHEERS!

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    Comment by djc1 — April 29, 2011 @ 4:46 pm | Reply

    • I agree – CHEERS! is exactly right. It’s more than anything what all of us were doing.

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      Comment by theotheri — April 29, 2011 @ 7:55 pm | Reply

  2. I loved watching the wedding — and not because I believe in any marital fairy tales. Really only because I wanted to see her dress, and all the ritual. Maybe try to imagine what her life will be like now, all that. I enjoyed reading your thoughts about the value of a monarchy.

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    Comment by Chris — April 29, 2011 @ 9:38 pm | Reply

  3. There’s something about the whole ritual — and the palace, and the church — being so old…

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    Comment by Chris — April 29, 2011 @ 9:38 pm | Reply

    • I think I know what you mean about being so old. It’s one of the things about living here in England that so often gives me a deep, inexplicable thrill. Being surrounded so obviously by thousands of generations who lived on this land before me gives me a sense of being part of the human community that nothing else does.

      In a way I feel I have the best of both worlds. As an American, I was raised without being held back by too much history, by too much experience saying “we already tried that,” or “that won’t work.” Americans are much more “can do”, and so in part, I think, it is why Americans have been able to push against the frontiers of so many problems. On the other hand, there is a sense of being rooted here that can’t compare with the roots of a country not yet 3 centuries old.

      Am I making sense?

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      Comment by theotheri — April 30, 2011 @ 8:22 pm | Reply


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