“Not all the water in the rough rude sea
Can wash the balm from an anointed King;”
—William Shakespeare, Richard II
BBC was faithful to proceedings; CNN was rich in commentaries.
Both BBC and CNN were devoted networks to the entire event. Even as people were just gathering around Windsor, the commentators and field journalists dressed as if they were to sit right at the pews fronting the Queen. These journalists toughened by leaders, dumb perhaps but powerful, they interview each day, became that day soft and sentimental about a prince and his princess, who, later on, we will be informed properly, would become the duke and his duchess.
We, in the Philippines, had waited for that wedding day. The same way we waited for a beauty pageant, where each year we latch our waning stars to beauty queens who practice how to answer the predictable questions with answers lengthened and stretched till the reply assume a heavy life of its own. The same way we looked forward to the first fights of Pacquiao, he who had assumed the title “National Fist,” before we voted him to the Senate to finally punch home the point that there is really no big difference between politics and boxing.
That day we laundered world history, the way money is laundered each day from one bank to another, from one sordid country to another. That day we were all circumspect, perhaps to show those behind the big event, the so-called royalties, that we too, could be royal if not in blood and lineage, at least in behavior and demeanor. We forgot how royalties came about. We could not be bothered by the killings and the duplicities and compromises in the histories of those residing in castles. This was the New World twice over. An American actress was going to marry a prince who looked as if he was made for a theme park. We did not mind that in describing the bride two modifiers were held suspect—“American” and “actress.” It was as if the monarch had gone down, as if a revolution had taken place only because a woman who was American and actress got accepted into the family of Windsor.
The bride, we felt, belonged to us and were us and we were apologetic for the bride. But never mind.
If indeed a revolution had ensued, the credit and the debit should not go to the monarchy or the royals. Everything should go to us. We staged the drama. We were starstruck. We were royalstruck.
Over at CNN, commentators were all over the place: There were royal commentators and observers; there were stylists; there were biographers. But the best thing the network
fielded was a culture commentator. She was Bonnie Greer.
Since all of us that day were at the foot of that massive chapel, anticipating our walk through a church with a nave and a quire/ choir to remind us that not everyone is equal before the Queen’s eye, we needed a view from an observer sober enough to guide us through the trance of this fairy tale. In fact, it took a long time for us to notice how giddy the annotations were coming from biographers and observers who seemed to know the Castles and the Queens. We would never really know these people was how Greer put it. At that point, commentators were pouring insider’s account of the royalties, defining their charms and their cuteness, their pains and privileges. But Greer, almost dousing the enthusiasm of the wedding party, continued how these royals would allow us to think we know them the way we know them. Her voice, however, almost sounded like the voice in the imperial wilderness, like this column perhaps in the days to come.
But the days to come indeed came. Historical footnotes now are grazing the online fiefdoms recalling for us the connection between the colored America and Markle, that there were loyalists who fought on the side of Britain when the empire was at war with a rebel that is now the US of A. That it was no accident that a gospel song was sung by a gospel group, “Stand by Me,” because, as documented, the song was inspired by a gospel called “Stand By Me, Father,” composed by the great Sam Cooke with another composer. That it was significant to note how Oprah spent so much time looking for her name among the “Lesser” when, in fact, she was to be seated up there with the “Greater,” with her back against the name of Knights and colonizers.
A breath of fresh air is what you hear or read about the wedding, the presumption being the royalty sits around air stale and heavy. At the end of the day, that stale air won. The American princess will no longer be a private individual. Poor princess and prince, the media announced the day after the wedding, they had to work instead of going on their honeymoon. Almost all of us swooned, some fainted at the heartbreak the couple had to face so soon. Of course, we should know better, they were not really working, they were displaying themselves, an act that is already a chore for these royalties who are there because we put them there.
But our politesse was relentless. We looked at the mother of Markle, seated so timidly and almost despondently, and concluded how regal she was. If the wedding ceremonies were in the good manners and right conduct of us good people, she should be seated right there beside her Compadre Charles and chatting with Camilla, who should be ruffling those pink feathers atop her dress. We should be complaining about how the grandmother of the bridegroom should have been there earlier because they are on the male side, the gallant side. But we let all this go. All because we bleed for the royal blood.
Online now and being circulated are postings making fun of the dresses and costumes of the guests in the Royal wedding. See, the people who, just last week, worshipped at the altar of royalties and celebrities are now throwing stones and brickbats at them. That is my point. We made these princes and princesses and constructed the castles and bulwarks for them so we could be entertained. The fascinators had stopped fascinating us. We had been duped.
And for that lady who had the time to take note how tacky practically all the clothes of the guests were that lovely day, well, she is being dismissed now as funny and also bitter. Lucky for her and this columnist as well, this is 2018; otherwise, we could have been scheduled already for execution near the castle of our choice. I choose, for budget and practical purposes and for bad or good, our very own Enchanted Kingdom.
Image credits: Jimbo Albano