Haters to the left.

No, seriously. I understand why many loathed the royal wedding. I understand why so many were sick of the dress, the dress, the details and all the press. I get it. But some of those might not get me, and why I waited for this, and why I watched and waited and sighed.

In defense of the royal wedding — it was a joy.

Don’t bother with the academics. I’ve spent too many years immersed in the language of intersectional feminism to miss what’s wrong with the monarchy. I could today, right now even, write a 20-page essay arguing for the immediate termination of this quintessentially patriarchal institution. And I would get a really good mark on it.

Though I laugh that it is a woman, hewn from steel, who has struck this patriarchal institution so much in her image that it now takes some effort to imagine ever having a king.

Though I laugh that it took a woman — not a golden lamb — who refused to go silently to slaughter to finally shove this patriarchal institution into the 20th century.  

But I digress.

The ills of the royals have already been written. They penned it themselves. There were the affairs, the divorces, the proxy-war-by-media. There’s been selling, and meddling, and misdeeds. There were the wretched revelations: Charles wanted to be a tampon, remember, to be closer to his mistress. To a tween all at odds with her suddenly-unfamiliar body, that was the most profane statement of all.

He was a cheating clown; she was a witch. Diana was a shadow. The Queen was a bitch.   

But then — there was William.

We are children of a tattered time. We grew up, and Diana died. We stole a first kiss and skipped our first class and swore and sang and joked. We got our hearts broke. We fought with our parents, and scammed cases of beer, and we learned to love, distrust and fear. We lost parts of ourselves. We tried on bits of someone else. We questioned the future, and founded a cult of Don’t Care. We cheered when Fight Club blew the buildings up, because it was easier to hate the city than to admit we saw not our place in it.

But there was also William.

The royalty must, by tradition and definition, be unknowable.This is why the proscription on public displays of affection. This is why the glaring eye at the black spider letters. The royals cannot be simply a blank screen, waving in the wind: they must be a blank brick wall. Otherwise, on what could we project?  

Shadow-shapes of clowns and witches, grumpy old men and uptight bitches.

But William was different. He was unknowable; but we knew him in ourselves. He was silent like the rest, but shy like none other. He talked like us. He ducked his head when he smiled. He shifted awkwardly under the weight of a someday-crown, a crown we saw flickering through the rifts that give all youth their first real glimpse of time.

And so we thought, maybe.

On the strength of that maybe, we squirreled him away. We kept him inside the place in us that the apathy couldn’t touch, the place that still dreamed of unsullied gardens and didn’t have to be tough. We kept him safe in the place that still bubbled after beauty, that still believed in happy endings. Or even just — in happiness.

A very old gift, from my best friend Lea, on the occasion of my 16th birthday.

And there he stayed, unknown and unknowable but just… maybe.

Then late last year, in a blue Issa dress and grins from ear-to-ear, that ”maybe” was no more. And in the place where William was hidden, the cracks open up and light beamed in, unbidden. The son of a Prince is free: and if he is, then what are we?

We are a generation finally taking to its feet.

This is not a fable. How many times today did they say “fairytale?” In defense of the royal wedding, that is a lie. The trappings are inspired by the tales: the carriage, the gown, the princes and crowns. Thirty years ago, that fairytale fell apart from the first issue of “once upon a time.” But Kate and William are not a fairytale. They are the fairytale perfected, because they are not figments. They are not fictions.

They’re just us, with a better fucking party planner.

Press pause. Millions of people in the streets, on the tee-vees, laughing, talking, dancing, drinking. In a seniors’ condo complex, they cuddled their granddaughters close and lifted champagne flutes toward the screen. Hands stretched across generations; hopes raced across miles, all breathing in of celebration and breathing out of joy. “Thank goodness they’ve been living together,” they said. “Thank goodness it wasn’t arranged; they seem to have learned. They seem to have changed.” 

The son of a Prince is walking free: so are we, so are we, so are we.”

At the seniors’ condo complex, a woman as old as the Queen beams. “I’m just so happy for us,” she said. For us.

I’m happy for us too.

And in defense of the royal wedding: this is all we ever wanted William to do.

  • Eric Friesen

    Nicely written.

  • val

    thanks for this, Melissa! I appreciate the perspective that you’ve captured with your writing. For me, the royal wedding has been all about love, and we’re living in a world that needs to be reminded about love as often as possible.

  • http://www.nothinginwinnipeg.com Melissa Martin

    Thank you. Sometimes one needs to push out a little stream-of-thought.

  • http://www.nothinginwinnipeg.com Melissa Martin

    Thank you! I agree — I often think that it’s the living myths of our era — the heroes, the lovers, the triumphs — that help us keep our collective sanity. We need great stories.