I am, of course and as ever, very late with posting about Friday’s splendid nuptials at Westminster Abbey. But belated congratulations are better than none, I suppose. The Church of England is unmatched at such events – the choral and musical tradition of English cathedrals is what makes such a vast difference, along with, inevitably, the beauty of Anglican prayers in English which is unsurpassed (except, of course, where they are heterodox…). But there was no heterodoxy on Friday. The happy couple had chosen to be married according the order proposed in the Prayerbook revision of 1928 (twice defeated in the Commons and so never put into effect). I think (and I am no longer really up to date with Anglican liturgics) it now forms part of “Series One” in Common Worship (that is, the more traditional materials). In essence it is 1662 with a few adjustments (e.g. “with thee I share” rather than “I thee endow”). Of course, this version does not have the bride promise to “obey” the husband at all so all those stories about “Kate wont ‘obey'” etc. which made it sound like the Duchess had insisted it be taken out or whathaveyou were typical press misunderstandings and exaggerations just to make a story. She didn’t have to decide not to say “obey” because it wasn’t there in the first place!
I enjoyed the music (mostly) and though someone will say Rutter’s anthem was predictable, it was also predictably good – nice English sounding harmonies, pretty organ phrases, very nice combination of Psalm verses. The Bishop of London’s address was good: “every wedding is a royal wedding – with the bride and groom and the King and Queen of creation”, and one or two other gems. Rowan Williams didn’t embarrass himself (who thought he would?) although that horrid mitre could have suffered some improvement. The reading was an excellent choice. None of the painful unrealism that attaches so erroneously to I Corinthians 13, but the sober, thought provoking Romans 12 in which they offer themselves, “a living sacrifice”, for each other and, by extension, for the realm and its people.
The Queen wore yellow – who else could do that? The Duchess looked divine in that beautiful, stylish dress which was in turns equally modest and emphasised her shapeliness. Prince William suits red – which is just as well since he wore the dress uniform of the Irish Guards – and despite his prematurely thinning hair he remains (in my opinion) the better looking of the Prince of Wales’ sons.
Simon Schama made a fine point in the BBC coverage that there were really “two marriages” going on Friday, that one between William and Catherine and the one between the monarchy and “the country” (by which I take him to mean “the people”). I think that is the theme of all Royal events, to cement that interdependence which we feel as part of our being between subject and monarch, that relationship of entire interdependence which is essential for both to really incline to their perfections: a monarch without a people is less than complete, and a people without a monarch has lost its head.
Anyway, all that is by the by. The purpose of this post was congratulations and a wish of “Many Years!”