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Dear J-

The big event of the celebrity day is, of course, the Royal Wedding. Of course the cool kids are all claiming that it’s no big deal and no one’s really excited by it, but we recorded the whole five-and-a-half hour BBC feed over PBS and, having skipped over the droning commentary and endless gushing, the actual ceremony was pretty nice and fairly understandable to us on this side of the Atlantic. Good for them, and good for us — we ended up watching maybe a total of half an hour, oohing appropriately over the dress, wondering aloud at the Royal jackets (how much gold braid does any one person need? Excluding Michael Jackson, that is.), and observed all the right traditions and precedents — at least as far as the BBC is concerned, I guess.

The parts we did watch were filled with commentary on the bride’s father, Michael Middleton, and between effusive speculation on how proud he must be, the remainder of the talk is about how his social stock has risen from the son of an airline pilot to father-in-law of the king-to-be, as though the greatest contribution to the world is a bit of genetic material. You are self-made and have the means to send your three kids to expensive schools and own multiple houses in places people vacation and the government station feels it necessary to knock him into place, continuing to remind him of station and situation. It is part of the difference between tradition and trade, the vulgarity of new wealth versus having earned it years ago.

They say that America is the land of opportunity, and that means more than just a belief, that there’s an amnesia that applies to how you get your money. For as much as we may have problems with Machiavellian businesses seeking money for money’s sake I wonder about the ethics of those who don’t have to work for their money: does it make it any better to inherit? The spectacle and circumstance of today are really no different than ceremonies from a hundred years ago, literally passing the bride’s hand from father to groom, and attitudes have ossified in the same rigid patterns. I can’t help but think how lives might have changed had Charles chosen Camilla in 1972 or been encouraged to do so.

Mike

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