There’s power, power in love. If you don’t believe me, think about a time when you first fell in love. The whole world seemed to centre around you and your beloved. The power of love is demonstrated by the fact that we’re all here. Two young people fell in love and we all showed up.”
It’s a beautiful phrase that wouldn’t be out of place at any wedding, so when it was heard at the Royal Wedding of the year last weekend, it surely brought a smile to many people. It was said by The Most Rev. Michael Curry of Chicago at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and it really did help to boil the whole event back down to its basics: two people were committing to spend the rest of their lives together.
There’s unfortunately been quite a bit of negative comment regarding the whole thing. In the days leading up to the wedding, those who were sleeping rough in Windsor were removed from the doorways and bus shelters that they took to seeking shelter from the elements at night-time. Police came to move them on by removing sleeping bags and various belongings to put into storage but instead of trying to find a permanent solution to having people sleeping on the streets, the problem was only temporarily displaced and they’re already back reclaiming their spots of safety.
There’s also been criticism over the public cost of the wedding. The total security bill is speculated to be upwards of £30 million which is actually higher than the cost of policing William and Kate’s big day back in 2011. However, many seem to forget that this higher cost is due in part to the higher terror threat level that the UK is currently under. Given the kinds of events and areas that have been targeted previously, it wouldn’t have taken a high-ranking MI5 agent to realise that the wedding could be seen as a prime target.
However, these criticisms can be offset by the work that the royal couple have done both in the past and plan to in the future. Prince Harry chose to embark on a military career and threw himself into it, taking on deployments to Afghanistan rather than deciding to stay back at home in the United Kingdom. Since leaving the army in 2015, he’s work with several charitable foundations that help those who have been left injured through their military careers. It would have been much easier for him to just swan about as an entitled prince and done nothing but instead he did what he thought was right and good. He and his brother have spoken out about issues regarding mental health, which has done a lot of good in terms of showing the world how absolutely anyone can be affected, regardless of who they are or what they were born into.
There’s something about the Royal Family that really endears them to a lot of people. There’ll always be a debate on whether or not we should have a monarchy but as regards to being a British tradition, it’s something that the tourists really do like to see and Buckingham Palace is often a must-see for those who take a trip to London.
Between this wedding and William’s, I think we’re starting to see a real shift in the role of the royals. Their generation are out there spending their time and effort on causes that really matter to them. William already has three children and I’m sure it won’t be long before Harry and Meghan turn their own thoughts to a little heir of their own but unlike most people, they have to bring up their children under the constant scrutiny of the public. They may have money and opportunity, but to constantly have to live up to all expectations even when you don’t feel like it must be exhausting at times.
Still, the wedding at the weekend really was beautiful. It was estimated that around two billion people tuned in to watch the wedding on TV which is round about a quarter of the world’s population. Even here in Northern Ireland where opinion on the Royal Family is probably the most divided, people from all walks of the division found themselves tuning in for a glimpse of the dress and to see the happy couple.
That’s just what weddings do to us. I’ll happily click into the portfolio of a random photographer and take a look through their photographs, smiling at pictures of people I’ve never heard of in my life, that moment captured as they say their vows or a candid shot of them sharing a glance when they don’t think anyone’s looking. I’ll look at artsy pictures of babies, family portraits or a whole album of pet dogs. There’s something about seeing other people happy that is just so infectious.
Yet there are still some who will want to try to tarnish the day and have pretty hateful things to say about the couple. I don’t really understand why. By all means say your piece but don’t wish ill on anyone. Trying to bring someone else down isn’t going to make you into a better person: only you have the ability to change that. Likewise, your value in this world and to yourself isn’t determined by what other people say about you.
We’re all on the outside looking in. All we know of Meghan and Harry’s relationship is what they’ve let us see. Had they been any other couple that were only well known locally, everyone would be out to celebrate with them rather than grumbling over some minor aspect to the whole thing that really isn’t going to affect them in the overall scheme of things. There have been plenty of occasions when I’ve been passing through town just as a wedding service has concluded and the newlyweds are coming out of the church or Town Hall. Without fail, passers-by stop and set down their shopping bags to take a moment to revel in the happiness and congratulate these strangers. Many do the same for overpaid actors or reality personalities. Why can the same happiness not be found for a few of the monarchy who are arguably doing much more to better society than some of these other ‘celebrities’?
It really was a perfect fairy-tale wedding with everything a person could dream of. From what I’ve read, the couple were pretty determined to make sure that it was a celebration for them rather than one that ticked all the boxes of what a royal wedding should be like. It was a day for them that we were all invited to witness. The twosome have asked that well-wishers donate to nominated charities rather than send physical gifts to them as there will be many who wish to do so and they are already planning their first royal engagements as man and wife, putting off their honeymoon to ensure that the most pressing public matters are dealt with before putting their own desires first.
As Reverend Curry said, “Two young people fell in love and we all showed up.” When you think of it like that, how could you not wish them well?