This is one of two official portrait photographs taken of Prince William and Kate Middleton in November 2010 to mark their engagement. Their wedding happens on April 29.
This is one of two official portrait photographs taken of Prince William and Kate Middleton in November 2010 to mark their engagement. Their wedding happens on April 29. Mario Testino/AP
I don't know if you guys have heard about it, but there's a wedding in London at the end of next week. It's on Friday, April 29. Some dude ... Bill, I think? And some lady with long hair?
Way back when Prince William and Kate Middleton got engaged, we talked here about whether royal weddings matter at all anymore, and let's get serious — they don't. Not as history. Not if you're putting them in the same category as diplomacy and medicine and catastrophe. Taken too literally, that's a dopey question, quite honestly. (And I can say that, because I'm the one who asked it.)
A royal wedding is, however, a pop culture event, and that's why I'm going to London.
It's a pop-culture event not only because this wedding will — irrespective of the disapproval of everyone who will loudly disapprove between now and then — have a huge worldwide television audience, but because as soon as you start talking about it, you realize that people react to it with a lot of the complex push-pull with which they react to modern celebrity, even though monarchies are encrusted with their own sense of history.
Out in the culture, there's a sort of weird cocktail of guilty curiosity, genuine enthusiasm, total revulsion, charges of elitism in opposite directions ("people who sneer at the people in the streets who like the royal wedding are elitists" versus "only elitists care what wealthy people do with their jewelry"), noisy boredom, and lots more. Some people feel only one of these things; some people feel lots of them simultaneously in differing amounts. It has been suggested to me that actual enthusiasm is much more likely to be found in Americans than in Brits. This is one of my questions.
All this makes it interesting to me as a cultural phenomenon, even though I don't plan to get them a toaster or anything. (Wait, I don't have to get them a toaster, do I? Is there toast there? I AM KIDDING.) I freely admit that it's partly just the delicious, hilarious kitsch of it all — how can you not love stuff like William and Kate teabags featuring these incredibly flattering likenesses?
The Hamburg firm Donkey Products is making these William and Kate teabags.
The Hamburg firm Donkey Products is making these William and Kate teabags. AP
It's partly just the fact that almost anything can be interesting if you find people who have strong feelings about it, and there are plenty of strong feelings to go around. After all, this wedding had backlash before it had ... lash, I think. Look, royal wedding airsick bags! Again, funny.
Two specially commissioned airline style sick bags for people who have had too much of the Royal Wedding are seen in a London gallery.
Two specially commissioned airline style sick bags for people who have had too much of the Royal Wedding are seen in a London gallery. Alastair Grant/AP
I have never been to London. It strikes me as an interesting time to go poke around. And I'll be there for a couple of days, so in addition to checking out Wedding Fever Or The Conspicuous Lack Thereof — which are equally interesting stories in my mind — I want to do some exploring. I am a pop-culture person, after all. I have heard London contains culture! (I AM KIDDING AGAIN.)
So here is where I throw a few questions to you.
What aspects of all this hoopla do you think are interesting? What, if anything, do you wonder about? (One of mine is: What about all the other people getting married that weekend, especially in London, but really anywhere? Welcome to your nightmare.) (Oh, and if you know one, feel free to have her contact me using our e-mail form over there in the right rail if she wants to vent her spleen.)
What should I do in London? What should I not bother doing in London? Should I take my best friend's advice and write a blog post called "The Humble Crumpet, Reconsidered"? Will the guards really not laugh? Is trying to make them laugh the equivalent of being the 800th person to make the same joke to a tired waitress? (I'm pretty sure it is.)
I await your wisdom.