I won’t be watching the Royal Wedding on Friday. That’s mainly because we booked in dinner with friends before we realised the clash, shock horror! But I can’t say I feel ambivalent towards it either. In fact, I’ve been feeling sort of upset about it and not sure why. I’ve decided that my disquiet exists on two levels.
Good preparation won’t save this marriage
There’s been a lot of talk about how well prepared Kate is for her role, in contrast to Diana who was wet behind the ears. Added to that is the fact that she and Will have known each other for a lot longer than Charles and Di and that they are in love. Consequently, hopes are higher that this marriage will not end in divorce like so many other Windsor marriages. There’s some validity to a good foundation but it’s not the silver bullet for making a marriage work. Marriages work because when people say ‘for better or worse’, both of them mean it, even the ‘worse’ part. All the preparation and love and discussions in the world will do a marriage no good without a determination to make things work ‘come what may’. The golden rule for a marriage is not living together or getting to know the royal family: it’s commitment.
Facing up to your responsibilities
There’s been a lot of talk about respecting the couple’s privacy, in particular, because of the myth that it was the media that killed Diana. The story goes that in the modern world, the media had invaded the royals’ private lives and that this is disrespectful, even harmful to them. Wills is said to be very protective of Kate and so the media has been kept at a distance, with carefully crafted interviews and photo shoots, even a name change for ‘Catherine’. This seems like a bit of having your cake and eating it too – the privileges of royalty while still expecting to lead a ‘normal’ life. Yet, this concept of private life is a reasonably modern invention. When there was a ruling monarch in England, their life took place in full view of the court, complete with rumours and propaganda. It’s only in the last 200 years or so, as the monarch’s job became more ceremonial and the real action started happening in parliament, that we invented the idea that they could have a public life and a private life. Yet, the nature and burden of leadership is that it’s public. Even if you’re little more than a figurehead, there’s more to leadership than what you do in your official capacity. If you want the luxury of privacy, become a private citizen. But if you want to be King or if that’s who you’re married to, be prepared for scrutiny.
How do you feel about Friday’s big event?
Categories: Tanzanian culture Written by Tamie
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.
It sounds like both your concerns point to a preoccupation with self-protection surrounding the royals. I suppose that’s not surprising — but aren’t good royals meant to be benevolent carers of their subjects? If self-protection is so pervasive, what room is there for benevolence?
Mm, maybe. I wonder whether the private and carefully crafted image actually has the opposite effect of self-protection (though I’m sure you’re right, that’s what it’s aimed at.) The more perfect your image to start with, the more the tiniest crack in the system can be exploited. But if you start with a human image (not scandalous, just not perfect) the little things are less sensational.