Saturday, April 23, 2011

A frugal royal wedding? 'What tosh! Bring on the pomp and pageantry!'

London, England  When news of the Royal Wedding was announced I enthusiastically flew the flag with the international media who beat a path to our door. They could not get enough of it: Who'll design the dress, how much champagne will guests drink, who will be invited, Why the royal wedding matters
would Harry be best man and what will it cost?
Then we learned the Royal Wedding is be a "semi-state" occasion. The couple are "mindful" of the fact we're in the grip of a recession. What tosh: It's the marriage celebration of Her Majesty the Queen's grandson who is himself a future King of England.
Over a billion people across the globe will tune in on the day -- and they're not checking we don't spend too much. They want pomp, they want pageantry, they want trumpet fanfares, gold carriages, tiaras, the Prince in his uniform with shoes so highly polished he can see his own reflection, flowers, fireworks, millinery and David Beckham in a frock coat. They want the glitz, the glamour, the mystery and the magic: It's a real-life fairy-tale, a modern-day love story where the girl got her prince. (Even the Prime Minister implementing the "austerity measures" agrees.)
Of course many people don't share this view. They think it a colossal waste of time, effort and money. But to attempt to accommodate or appease the critics, the anti-monarchists, the millions of people all over the world so far removed from this event and/or who have no strong opinion one way or another, is futile. Famine, oppression, poverty: These will not be eradicated just because we keep this celebration a low-key affair.
Famine, oppression, poverty: these will not be eradicated just because we keep it a low-key affair
--Sarah Haywood, bridal author
All weddings, large and small, lavish or simple are loaded with expectation. One of the challenges when organizing any wedding (whether for yourself, a family member or a client) is managing the varied expectations of all those involved. No different here -- except it's not just the families, but the expectations of a nation and a world-wide television audience of a billion plus. Those organizing the public face of this wedding know that this huge audience (bigger in the United States even than the Super Bowl) must not be disappointed.
So stop with the mixed messages.
We do know the Royal family are very wealthy. The timing for their injecting even a small slice of their cash into the British economy couldn't be better. Those harping on about the cost to the public purse, what cost? Do the sums: the thousands (and it is thousands) of foreign media booked into London hotels for the duration will pretty much alone cover the direct security costs. From a PR perspective it does not get any better: A royal wedding the year before the London 2012 Olympics. You cannot put a price on the value of this event to London, to tourism or to GB plc.
If you are a future King and Queen of England it really is ok for you to have a wedding fit for a prince. 
--Sarah Haywood
Anticipation builds for royal wedding
Insight into William and Kate
Given that in Britain we do these occasions better than anyone, anywhere else in the world, it's a nonsense that a British royal has not managed to knock Grace Kelly off the top spot when it comes to the title "iconic bride of all time." If Diana had got the dress right she might have done so: Kate's got the looks, so all she has to do is get the gown. It's time to commit. So while we're at it let's get a British bridal designer to the dizzy heights enjoyed by Vera Wang.
And no more talk of cars instead of carriages (I understand the real reason Kate is arriving in a car is that she is concerned she'll get travel sick in a bumpy, horse-drawn carriage ride). Buckingham Palace does not do buffets: There will be delicious, exquisite, beautifully presented canapes served on the finest tableware and by liveried staff. We want the pomp, we want the pageantry, the trumpets in the Abbey and two six-foot cakes.
Weddings -- all weddings -- should say something about a couple, their shared values and their sense of style. If you live a modest lifestyle and you're happy with a modest celebration of sausage and mash at the local pub, good for you.
But if you live a five-star lifestyle, then have a five-star wedding to match. And if you are a future King and Queen of England it really is ok for you to have a wedding fit for a prince.
So stop pretending, stop playing it down, we know it will be.

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