Kate and Wills: Common Touch for Their Wedding a Tad Too Common?

Posted on January 21, 2011

The late Queen Mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.

It is remarkable that Kate and William have been sensitive to the economy and those suffering from its rigors.  As a result, they have opted for a car to transport Kate to the Abbey (also the symbolism in this is that she will not yet be royal) and for wedding guests to donate to their favorite charity rather than send a gift.

The movie the King’s Speech ends before it chronicles the legendary common touch of the late Queen Mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.  From the time she was Duchess of York [a title carried by Sarah Ferguson today] , she brought her unique way of communicating  warmth and caring to the table. Gracious yet the essence of royal, she was beloved throughout her life.

During the war, Buckingham Palace was bombed.  Although the family retreated to Windsor to sleep, during the day they were back in London working and walking among the people.  They did not send their daughters to safety in Canada.  They all remained a stalwart, strong and self-sacrificing model of the English character that got them through the dark days of those times.

But as common a touch as the Queen mother exhibited as she and her family walked through the rubble of a war-torn London, she was also well aware of the key element in the draw the monarchy had in  modern times: the mystery that surrounded much of it and the importance of its traditions –  its ceremonies such as the coronation.  The king and/or queen is anointed under a canopy away from public gaze.  Elizabeth gave no interviews during her lifetime and she only spoke publicly once.  Yet she was as adored in her time as Diana was in hers.  She struck an important balance.









Too few times of pomp and circumstance, of the trappings of monarchy and the unique quality of the institution is destroyed.  There is a way to signal economies are being made but face it, the jewels and the finery are already paid for.   Security is costly whether you travel to the Abbey by car or by coach and eight. And perhaps security is the real reason for the run in the auto.  However, an angry Queen accosted William with “[A]re you going to cycle to the Abbey”?

[A]s the Queen points out, it will actually cost more to use a car than to use the carriage, when you consider the fuel costs and so on. By contrast, the horse carriages and the Household Cavalry guards are going to be on duty anyway on the wedding day, so it doesn’t cost anything extra for Kate to ride in a carriage to the Abbey. [HuffPo]

So let’s hope Kate shows up at the Abbey in silk not sackcloth and that she and William get a few really outrageously over the top gifts from, say, the Sultan of Brunei or  the royals in Qatar that we can dream about.  We like to hold on to glitter in the midst of gloom.  Why else were those Busby Berkley films with elaborate sets and exquisite dancing girls so successful during the Depression?  We just wanted to know that such things were still there.  We needed to be entertained but also reassured.  A little common touch goes a long way.  Please, let’s see a carriage return the royal couple to the palace.  No Jimmy Carter and Rosalyn Carter walk to it.  Tradition is like a floor under us.  We need it.