A Big Fat Royal Wedding???

  • Something by Charis
  • Published on February 22nd, 2011 at 4:42p.m.

Firstly, you have to recognise that I'm not really a big 'wedding' fan. Marriage, when it's done for all the right reasons is wonderful, but I sometimes feel like people who would be happy enough co-habiting get married for one reason only- a great big, expensive, ridiculous party.

But fair enough, if people are happy to celebrate love in that way, each to their own.... etc, etc.... I know it's none of my business, but I just personally think that anything which makes 'love' a spectator sport is a bit tacky.

However, very hypocritically I know, one thing I love to do is nosey into other people's weddings and judge away. Currently we have two great examples of this in the media- firstly, with Channel 4's most watched documentary for a decade, 'Big Fat Gypsy Weddings', and secondly, with the tabloid's obsession (which is perhaps shared with some proportion of the population), with the Royal Wedding.

You may think the two are as far away in execution as possible, but I shall try and persuade you that they aren't actually that different...

First things first- the dress... OK, so Kate Middleton's dress isn't going to be made of five stone of 'highlighter pink' taffeta. But it is going to be talked about, envied and perhaps will be copied by brides across the land, so Kate may feel the need to pick out something really exceptional and perhaps a bit out of the ordinary.

Surely this is all our young 'Gyspy Brides' do? As shown in the documentary, throughout their communities young brides all have to pick out or design a dress with that extra something so that it will be memorable, and that other traveller brides may covert this or copy this is the ultimate sign of approval that the dress is a success. Surely Kate will have this kind of critical approval on her mind too?

Next is the secrecy surrounding the big day- travellers often have to keep the location of the wedding a secret so it doesn't get cancelled by prejudiced venue proprieters. As well as this is the dress, the cake and the entertainment, all of this has to be kept under wraps for the biggest effect on the day, not dissimilar to a lot of expensive or show-offy weddings.

Similarly, Kate and Will's wedding will have to have the utter most secrecy surrounding it- to stop the tabloids ruining the surprise for their guests. I get the feeling that some unscrupulous newspapers would love to ruin the surprise of Kate's dress design to sell a few thousand more copies of their rag.

The final and ultimate thing I think that binds the two are the traditions involved- and perhaps also the thinking and reasons behind the marriage.

In the traveller and gypsy community it is important for couples to follow strict rules of courtship- they have to be married to spend time alone together. Marriage is the only way for a boy and girl to be like a 'normal' couple in non-traveller terms. In the same way, Will and Kate have to follow similar rules- with William as the future King of England- which hence makes him the future head of the Protestant Church of England.

Both families are reigious in a way that many other modern couples aren't, many travellers being of a strong Catholic faith and with the Windsors leading by example in Protestantism.

Eventhough Kate and Will have had a reasonably 'normal' relationship in terms of an average british couple, imagine if Kate were to get pregnant. The future monarch would have been born out of wedlock!

Somthing that wouldn't fuss the rest of the country's couples could be horrific to the royal family in a similar way it might be horrific to many travellers if it happened in the gypsy and travelling community.

So marriage is necessary to these two groups for very similar ideological reasons.

Overall, I think the similarities are so because of the way many people today like to celebrate weddings with the most fuss possible- all the brides on 'Big Fat Gypsy Weddings' wanted to be just like Kate- princesses- but instead of being princesses for a day, Kate is going to be a princess (and then perhaps Queen), for life.

After the party is over she will have to be dutiful to her husband in the same way that gypsy wives have to be dutiful to their husbands (such as attending many royal appointments)- the old fashioned rules of marriage absolutely apply to both of these cultures, no matter how far away in presentation the weddings may be.

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