Friday, 29 April 2011

A Royal Wedding

I have not followed the build up to the wedding of William and Kate very much at all.

With the result that I was rather stunned by the enthusiasm that it has generated, and that has been shown on the streets of London during the last 48 hours. I listened to the coverage on Radio 4, and found it all thoroughly gripping. The whole event was quite amazing.

I did gain the impression that the couple have taken the religious dimension of their marriage seriously, within its wider social and political contexts. Kate is reported to have been prepared for, and to have recieved, confirmation in the Church of England ahead of the "big day". The fact that the couple wrote a prayer for the day, too, suggests to me that there has been a religious preparation for the day. This is from today's order of service:
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here in the sight of God and in the face of this congregation, to join together this man and this woman in Holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God himself, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church ...

... it was ordained for the increase of mankind according to the will of God, and that children might be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy name.

Secondly, it was ordained in order that the natural instincts and affections, implanted by God, should be hallowed and directed aright; that those who are called of God to this holy estate, should continue therein in pureness of living.

Thirdly, it was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity.
I think the response of ordinary people - and, if the Radio 4 coverage is anything to go by, it was people of all ages and backgrounds who turned out in the centre of London today - also prompts a reflection on what it is that makes up a sense of nationhood. Edith Stein reflects on how the person of a monarch (or leader of a state) expresses in their own person something of the "personhood" that might belong to the unity of the people as a whole. The way in which today's Royal Wedding brought people together manifests in some way how the monarchy does express something of the nationhood of the British people, and not just in Britain itself. The number of visitors from overseas who Radio 4 presenters met on the streets of London today shows how the monarchy also represents British nationhood overseas.

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