I started the day with some mixed feelings about the now heavily publicised news that Prince William and Kate Middleton are to marry. We all knew that they would, and have known that for years - so it is not a surprise to any of us. The ring thing is, I grant you, a surprise. Using the engagement ring that Dad gave Mum - one can only assume that the royal PR people were behind that. For me, it is not what I would have done, and the headlines in all this morning's bile-sheets had his mother's name all over them without exception, and not always Kate's.
Part of me didn't think I cared. Then the other part 'had a word' and now I have a different perspective on things. I think that the 'Widdleton' machine will now chug to full pelt with conventions for this, precedents for that, titles here, processes there. The lovely couple assure us that they will try to be 'hands-on' with their marriage service, but I remain as yet unconvinced. There will be little old geezers, who had nothing to do for years because their jobs as Madge Splicers have not been called upon for a while. They will have hidden in cupboards until the next wave of royal loin-fruits made their momentous decisions, and will now stir into a fury of activity and constitutional correctness. It is all very quirky, very quaint, and very very English.
...A little like the Church. We are certainly quirky, entirely quaint, and awash with wonderful individuals who have their jobs to do (and do them well).
Ours is a very cynical society in so many ways. Its cynicism is part of the reason why faith in all its forms struggles. Cynicism is the reason why the Royal Family have not enjoyed good times recently. We assess usefullness along lines that institutions like monarchies and churches find hard to make the grade. This is also partly why society doesn't seem to favour weddings or often commitment in any form - because we just don't see the need or the point.
I am delighted that the institution of marriage is recieving such a boost. The bandwagon classes will start to book their nuptials like mad in the next few months so that they too can have a 'Widdleton' style bash. But I am glad. I am glad that we now have a chance to see the monarchy in ascendency again because I believe it will have a positive effect on the church. Cynicism might be lulled by quirky fairy-stories once again, as we were all raised hearing tales of princes and princesses. Once again we will all be given permission to have a little faith in things beyond ourselves, and for that I am glad.
For my part, I wish Prince William and Ms Middleton a long and happy marriage; one that is fruitful and one where they may be allowed space to preserve themselves and the family I pray they are granted. They have given us all a little hope ... and that is a great gift to a nation.