Friday, April 29, 2011

A Fairy Tale I Can Believe In

Like many women across the US, I woke up this morning at the ungodly hour of 4 am and proceeded to my Royal Wedding viewing party. OK, it wasn’t really a party so much as hanging out with my mom on the couch while we ooo-ed and aww-ed over the outfits, hats, Will and Harry, and of course, the beautiful bride. I watched in exhaustion, taking a brief five minute nap while I awaited their step onto the balcony and the fabled kiss. Still, I have to say, it was so worth it.

photo via
To get some things out of the way:
  • I loved Kate’s dress. I expected it to be a little bit more modern, but she looked amazing and classic in true Kate Middleton style. Plus, any nod to Grace Kelly is rarely a bad move.
  • Pippa looked amazing. Not many people can pull of a dress like that, and she rocked it.
  • James Middleton is cute! And did I hear he was 24? Hmmm….
  • Harry? Wow. Just wow.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, time for my slightly more serious analysis of the occasion:

I know that there are a lot of people who think that the royal wedding obsession is ridiculous, and to a certain degree, I agree. If I actually lived in Britain I might be a little ticked about the use of public dollars for this type of event the while government takes austerity measures. But politics aside, there was just something about this particular love story that had me captivated long before the engagement was announced.

When I was little, I heard all the Disney Princess stories. Frankly, a few of them were a little insulting. Why should girls wait around for their Prince Charming to come and rescue them? I don’t know about you, but I always thought of a relationship as more of a partnership deal. I’m all for a guy being protective or defensive when it’s necessary, but I prefer not to end up in one of those damsel in distress situations (no matter how many times I  wipe out in a pair of can’t-quite-handle-these-while-drinking heels).

I love this royal love story because it’s not a Disney Princess story. I love it because it celebrates modern couples. Kate and Will obviously have fun together and it seems as though mutual respect is a big part of their relationship. When Kate takes the thrown, she will be the first queen with a University Education. She and Will lived together in college as friends, and lived together as a couple prior to the wedding too. Kate helped Will stay at University and then pursue his career in the Military, and he has developed a very close relationship with Kate’s family.

It takes one confident woman to land a prince, and Kate Middleton made Will work for her. By now everyone’s heard the story where someone said to Kate, “You’re so lucky to be dating Prince William,” to which she replied, “He’s lucky to be dating me.” She was totally right. Their relationship would never work if they had the attitude that she should be grateful to be with Britain’s heir to the throne.

Kate admitted that she was heartbroken when she and Will broke up for six weeks in 2007. But she didn’t wallow in self pity. Instead, she joined a women’s rowing team, went out on the town, and let the paparazzi photograph her out with London’s most eligible bachelors. She took the opportunity to learn about herself and become stronger without her beau. To this day she says that while their time apart was difficult, she values it very much. When Will did come back, Kate was cautious but obviously moved forward from the break up and let the relationship grow stronger. Had their relationship ended right there, she still would have had her dignity intact. There isn’t a woman in the world that can’t learn from the way she handled that situation.

When Kate reached Will at the altar this morning, Will looked over lovingly and told her she looked beautiful. The couple shared so many knowing glances throughout the service and leaned in for private conversations throughout the very public affair. Even their kisses were short but comfortable, showing they love each other but don’t have to show the world through some smacker on the balcony.

photo via

One of my favorite parts of the ceremony was the Bishop of London’s sermon, which I watched attentively and read through a few times afterwards. The Bishop spoke of a deep love that is not the end but rather the tool through which we become the best version of ourselves and find ourselves most fulfilled. It was one of the most eloquent, realistic views on romance that I’ve heard in a long time, and a welcome break from the love story that we see so often in the movies.

A few phrases from the Bishop’s sermon that really resonated with me:

 "We stand looking forward to a century which is full of promise and full of peril. Human beings are confronting the question of how to use wisely a power that has been given to us through the discoveries of the last century. We shall not be converted to the promise of the future by more knowledge, but rather by an increase of loving wisdom and reverence, for life, for the earth and for one another.”

I probably just scared away all men potentially interested in me with this discussion of serious relationships and marriage. No worries guys, I’m not trying to get that serious right now. According to Princess Kate I have another 5 years to figure things out. But I hope you’ll respect me for thinking realistically about the way relationships work and knowing what I want from mine…eventually.

I knew I loved Will and Kate’s love story, but I definitely didn’t expect to be so moved by any portion of the ceremony the way the sermon moved me. I can’t say that I’m ashamed of my sappiness though, because I finally figured out why I love Will and Kate so much, and why they're such a big draw to other girls my age: They're mutual love and respect is the kind of fairy tale that we can believe in. It’s not that we all want to be princesses; it’s that we look forward to watching our own modern love stories unfold. And when they do, we can only hope that we’ll conduct ourselves with the poise and confidence of the new Princess Catherine.

“As the reality of God has faded from so many lives in the West, there has been a corresponding inflation of expectations that personal relations alone will supply meaning and happiness in life. This is to load our partner with too great a burden. We are all incomplete: we all need the love which is secure, rather than oppressive, we need mutual forgiveness, to thrive.”

“Faithful and committed relationships offer a door into the mystery of spiritual life in which we discover this; the more we give of self, the richer we become in soul; the more we go beyond ourselves in love, the more we become our true selves and our spiritual beauty is more fully revealed."

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