On Friday 29th April 2011, every 20-something single girl wanted to be Kate Middleton. Her fairytale had come true: she was the lowly girl marrying the prince as the whole kingdom looked on and cheered. This sentiment reverberated particularly loudly in St Andrews: just ten years ago, she was a fresher, just like we all were. She too had been desperately trying to make friends in hall, repeating the same answers to the standard questions – what’s your name/where are you from/what are you studying – in an attempt to find some people to go to The Lizard with that night and pretend to have a good time. It just so happened that one person sharing a vacuous fresher’s conversation with her was HRH Prince William of Wales, but their relationship would not dwindle after a couple of nights at the Union. Back then, little did she know that a million people would line the streets just for a glimpse of her in that, now iconic, Sarah Burton gown. Nor did she ever imagine that her wedding ceremony would be broadcast live in over 300 countries.
It is understandable why the mood was so excitable in St Andrews – everyone could imagine themselves in her shoes (and her dress – many will secretly wish they owned it). However, the atmosphere all over Britain was one of happiness and joy. The Independent writes that ‘people forgot you were not supposed to talk to each other on the tube’, but instead engaged in light-hearted chat about the wedding. Apparently, people even whispered ‘sorry’ as they brushed past each other in the race to get to Buckingham Palace to witness the balcony scene and that highly anticipated kiss. Has the Royal Wedding made us nicer people? Perhaps not, but, just for a day, it gave us something to be happy about. It made us want to be nice, as we were in better moods.
Perhaps this has been just what Britain needed right now. With economic turmoil, natural disasters and frankly frightening stories of war and political unrest adorning the news, a happy story about a young RAF pilot marrying a party-accessories buyer is a welcome relief from so much bad news. But, more than that, the Royal Wedding’s popularity seems to have taken us back to a more patriotic time, when Britain actually had a national identity. The street parties were reminiscent of post-war 1940s and 1950s, when people celebrated VE Day and the Coronation. It may be a far-fetched idea, but perhaps this feeling of unity will prevent petty crime, violence or abuse – people won’t feel the need to be nasty to each other.
Personally, I cannot quite believe that I have just uttered this opinion. Since I was able to understand politics, I have not been a fan of the monarchy; my thinking being that unelected figure-heads should not receive an annual sum of £7 billion of tax-payers’ money. However, having witnessed such an air of camaraderie and elatedness, I think I now get why people like the Royals. In particular, I find myself interested in the younger royals – while they are extremely privileged, they went to school and university just like us and seem rather more relatable than the older generation. They just seem to be genuinely pleasant people. Perhaps I won’t relinquish my views on their unnecessary income, and I certainly will not turn into one of those crazy fanatics who buy Wills and Kate tea-towels, but I no longer feel they should all be exiled to foreign lands. They bring a lovely ambience to the country.
Perhaps their popularity is due to the fact that, at the end of day, their story is just one of boy-meets-girl with a very happy ending – and, secretly or openly, we all just want to be Princess Kate.