Quickly eclipsed by the precipitous earthly departure of Osama bin Laden, last week's big story was the royal wedding between Kate and William of Great Britain, proving that storybook endings come in many varieties. Yet as satisfying as was the fall of the world's vilest terrorist to countless Americans, still millions more stayed up until all hours to view the British nuptials over the weekend.
Now, I didn't watch any actual coverage of the wedding, but the few clips I happened to catch featured the happy couple exchanging vows with mutual looks of stoic endurance, as in: "Well, after all, it is rather a bloody bore, but this is what the old folks expect, so we might as well grin and bear it!" In fact, in one of the bytes, they were nearly giggling, as if they were treating the whole thing as a big spoof of something really, really important. And, as it turns out, maybe that's just what it was; a spoof.
It seems that the royal couple have been playing house of Windsor for the past few years; cohabitating on and off since their university days. Now unfortunately, this type of premarital partnership has been going on for decades; millions of folks all over the world have taken to living outside of marriage in pursuit of I don't know what. Some of the more honest claim that marriage is an outdated and useless convention, unnecessary to modern happiness, while others feel that a trial period is needed; a sort of audition for the real thing, to see if the two participants will be "compatible" in the long run.
What rankles though, is not the disregard for biblical prohibitions against such behavior, since fewer and fewer people acknowledge any desire or even reason, to pay attention to the word of God. But why then, do countless couples seek the "legitimacy" of a church wedding after years of non-connubial canoodling? These questions become even more compelling when applied to the last royal family in the world to which anyone really pays attention; one that seems hell-bent on breaking all records for plebeian behavior.
What a difference from the days when members of the Royal Family were looked to as paragons of British gentility. One thinks of the young and future Queen Elizabeth, whose parents famously refused to leave England during WWII. Listen to a 1940 BBC broadcast where she addresses her subjects: "We are trying to do all we can to help our gallant sailors, soldiers and airmen, and we are trying, too, to bear our share of the danger and sadness of war. We know, every one of us, that in the end all will be well."
But of course, that sort of noblesse oblige was of another time. At this time however, we have lewd photos of Princess Kate's lady in waiting, her ubiquitous sister Pippa, as well as other tales of naughtiness by various royal rapscallions. Where is the moral underpinning of this bunch?
But don't expect any type of correction to be forthcoming from local religious authorities. Word has it that Dr. John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York and the Church of England's second most senior cleric, has actually endorsed the premarital living arrangements of Kate and Wills. Ignoring Christian teaching against sexual relations outside marriage, Dr. Sentamu said he had married many such couples adding, "We are living at a time where some people, as my daughter used to say, they want to test whether the milk is good before they buy the cow. For some people that's where their journeys are."
Remarkable remarks by the Archbishop indeed, but maybe not so surprising given that Prince William will eventually be his boss, since if and when he becomes king, he will also inherit the position of Supreme Governor of the Church of England, a title that has come down through the ages from Henry VIII; a fellow who had bovine problems all his own.
And so another royal wedding has come and gone, and with it, all the attendant nonsense. But let us earnestly hope that, in the words of another famous Englishman, it does not turn out to be "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury; signifying nothing."