Sometimes when reading with the wee scholars, we deviate from their recommended books (geared to reading level) and choose a fairy tale from the library shelves behind us. The scholars like plays or stories where we can each take a part, and lately we’ve been reading “Cinderella.” They are eight years old, my scholars, and know the story as well as I. (We are three critics sitting on little chairs, with comments about details of dress and demeanor.)
I have resisted mentioning our current royal wedding to them, respectful of our First Lady’s plans to attend the shuttle launch with her little girls – no mooning over princes and princesses there – and I think about the widened horizons for little girls (princess or astronaut, among other possibilities).
Just before the royal wedding, 30 years ago, we were in London with our little boys visiting long-time friends. The dad of the London family took my husband and son to St. Paul’s Cathedral to deliver commemorative glassware produced by his company, etched with images of Charles and Diana. We brought four wine glasses home (now greatly reduced in number by use).
We also have a cookie tin (properly “biscuit tin”) from that era, its lid bearing a photo of the royal couple – Charles looks headachy and cross, Diana apprehensive. I remember getting up early to watch the wedding with our sons, and when I asked one recently if he remembered any of this, he said: “maybe, sorta.”
Diana had two fine sons, and the one with the best name got married Friday – to a commoner. The royal tale is Masterpiece Theater – full of human hope, pageantry, music, beauty, and willing, excited onlookers (also contemporary twists of telly and Twitter). Weddings tie the principals to the past and to what is important to them, and this wedding had so much – English history, Westminster Abbey, that ring, that hymn.
It might have been strange timing, juxtaposing the wedding with the space shuttle launch – a “nerve-wracking” event as even that brave and wounded wife of an astronaut described it – full of human hope and danger.
But in this day and age all public events are fraught. We watch hoping for happiness in life, for pumpkins transformed and space ships in orbit. Wishing for a long life for everyone involved – touchdown for astronauts and a happy-ever-after for the young royals.
I didn’t manage to see the whole wedding, but did catch a glimpse of the ride in the carriage and the waves and the kiss from the balcony. As a couple they looked as fresh and natural and hopeful and happy as your spring flowers. In spite of all that’s going on in the world we all need those glimpses once in awhile to remind us of how life is renewed in the midst of unsettled times.