In my last post as an Ole Abroad blogger, typing to you from Lancaster, England, I would be remiss if I didn’t join one of the most pressing debates in England. The topic of debate: Who is more obsessed with the royal wedding? The English or the Americans?
Okay, I’m only kidding – obviously that is not one of the most pressing debates facing my current home – it is the most pressing topic. With Prince William’s wedding to Catherine Middleton fast approaching, all of England is preparing to celebrate. With the ceremony scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday April 29, for those hoping for a live royal glimpse (and who don’t mind sprinting for a spot along the wedding route from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey) last-minute train tickets to London are in order. For others who wish to view the ceremony from the comfort of their own homes, finding the TV guide is crucial in these next few days. And for everyone in England during this happy day, indoor and ‘street party’ planning is most definitely in order. Even England’s Transport Secretary is joining the celebration by officially scrapping regulations concerning Street Parties for the day, so commoners can party harder than usual.
Clearly, it makes sense for the English to celebrate. After all, this is their royal family, their country’s history in the making, and of course, their new day off from work. Due to April 29th’s new status as a national bank holiday (although just for this year), nearly everything will be closed. What is not as clear is why Americans seem just as likely to celebrate this joyous English occasion.
As I’m sure you all have noticed, the royal wedding is making headlines across the states. American newspaper, blog, and magazine speculation seem non-stop as the press guess about everything, from what designer wedding dress Kate will wear, to what would happen if a cell phone went off during the service. As of late, American journalists have also traveled to London to get the scoop on topics such as the best hotels still un-booked for last-minute travelers (good luck finding anything now), and where to take a walking tour in London that follows Will and Kate’s history, elementary school and all.
It seems that every big news station, such as CNN, has dedicated papers to wedding coverage: http://edition.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2011/royal.wedding/ NBC News has even created a Royal Wedding iPad app, offering an interactive family tree of the royal family, so you can study up for the big day!
While Obama, who wasn’t invited to the wedding, will certainly not declare a national holiday, the ceremony is still likely to reduce the morning traffic jam, as those who rise early enough to catch the wedding live may be a bit late for work. You can check your local listings but in the very least, the ceremony will be broadcasted live by BBC America, CNN, TLC and NBC.
Beyond the media, American stores everywhere are doing their best to remind the public of the wedding, even selling many of the same wedding knick-knacks you can find in England! I recently received a joke card (below) from a friend in New York City; I spotted the same one just yesterday in the front window of a shop in downtown Lancaster!
Overall on the debate of who is more wedding-crazed, I have to say that currently the Americans and the English appear to be neck-and-neck. “The build-up in the United States to the royal wedding on 29 April has been every bit as frenzied and frenetic as it has in Britain,” notes Paul Harris, U.S. correspondent for The Guardian, in his recent article about a Princess Diana exhibit in Kansas City, Missouri (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/17/royal-wedding-missouri-diana-exhibition).
Lately, I’ve noticed that some English, if not harboring bitterness about the wedding’s appeal to Americans, are at least challenging it. “It literally has nothing to do with your country,” one of my English friends scoffed. Trying to make sense of this American obsession, Harris concludes: “Perhaps the almost blanket appreciation of the modern royals is also to do with the fact that they are at a safe distance. No American taxpayer funds their lifestyle. No American citizen is a subject of an unelected Queen.” Still, at least English shopkeepers are reaping this phenomenon’s benefits.
Wedding memorabilia and souveneirs are flying off the shelves. Thanks to online shopping, Americans can buy all the same items the English can pick up in London. From cheap pens and keychains to a $57.78 replica of Kate’s sapphire engagement ring and $70 royal collection china – the latter of which is currently sold out – you can find everything-royal-wedding at this website: http://www.theroyalweddingwilliamkate.com/.
You can even give an online wedding gift to the happy couple via the Royal Wedding Charitable Gift Fund through their official wedding website: http://www.officialroyalwedding2011.org/ Plus, this website also offers all you could possibly want to know and more about specific wedding details, from the service to the procession to the reception and beyond.
Where will I be on the big day? Unfortunately, not in London, although I’m heading there this week to buy my official Kate and Will mugs! Most likely I will be joining friends in front of a television somewhere in Lancaster, dressed in my wedding best (street party!). And if I may, I suggest you set your alarm. Even if it has no impact whatsoever on daily life in Northfield, Minnesota, why miss perhaps the only royal wedding of your lifetime? After all it will be televised on most channels.
For any of you Oles thinking about studying abroad in England or better yet, Lancaster University, I highly recommend it. If you want to get a better idea of what my experience in Lancaster has been like, you can check out my past blog posts:
On Meat Pies and missing the Caf:
On Fancy Dress:
On Football (American soccer):
On Pancake Day:
On Culture Shock:
On England A to Z:
Thanks so much for reading and I hope I’ve entertained you and taught you a bit about England along the way! I will be at Lancaster University until June 8. Then I’ll finally be heading home sweet home to Massachusetts. Of course, I can’t wait to come back to St. Olaf this September where I’ll be starting my junior year. It will be great to be back in Minnesota. Until then, cheerio mates!
*Lucy Casale ’13 is studying at Lancaster University in Lancaster, England for second semester.