Okay, folks. My local pub doesn’t open until the ceremony actually starts, and I can’t afford to miss anything, so I’ve got a live stream going on the BBC website. Time to do some live-blogging:
10:02 AM: A reporter stands in front of a crowd in Hyde Park. The crowd starts cheering like maniacs because they’re on camera, and the reporter calmly says, “There’s been a lot of this.” He then turns to three women who have turned up in wedding dresses, and one of them says, “It’s not too late for Wills to change his mind!”
10:05 AM: David Cameron has arrived in Westminster Abbey. His clothes are hideous and hilarious at the same time. Jacket, vest, trousers, and tie are all different colors: the vest and trousers two different shades of beige, the jacket black, the tie an off-lavender.
10:11 AM: The crowd in front of William’s house is shouting, “We want Will!”
10:11 AM: They’ve got a Sikh security guard. Why do I feel like that wouldn’t happen in America?
10:13 AM: William and Harry emerge from Clarence House in a car and drive to Westminster Abbey. Announcer: “I am told that Prince Harry does have the ring in his possession.” Good. We were worried about that.
10:15 AM: There’s a full military band on the grounds of the horse guards, but the royal cars just drove right past so they didn’t play anything. This has to be intentional. Maybe they’re there to entertain “the crowds which were gathering at 5 o’clock this morning.” Knew I shouldn’t have woken up at 9:15.
10:18 AM: Prince William’s uniform, as Colonel of the Irish Guard, is pretty awesome. He looks way sharper than David Cameron.
10:19 AM: At Westminster Abbey, two guards open William and Harry’s car doors simultaneously. That takes practice. Harry is smiling and laughing. William kind of has a big head, but that might just be the thinning hair. I like Harry; he seems to have a slight lack of decorum. He just stepped off the red carpet a couple of times.
10:21 AM: There are a bunch of trees in Westminster Abbey.
10:22 AM: William is talking to a woman with an enormous blue hat with lots of of flowery and twiggy things sticking up. “Twiggy” is a word, right?
10:23 AM: “The Sultan of Brunei is making his way into the Abbey.” He looks way sharper than David Cameron. “The King of Tonga is next to arrive.” He’s a big, tall man but aging, with a limp, and uses a walking stick and a walking person-next-to-him for support.
10:30 AM: The royal family comes in via Volkswagen buses. Historian Simon Schama notes, “It’s as if they’re a football team playing away.” But he says it admiringly, because nobody is allowed to be the least bit sarcastic, or even amused, I suspect.
10:32 AM: Another thing that wouldn’t happen in the USA: the bride’s mother’s outfit was designed by Catherine Walker, a fashion boutique whose styles are now, since Catherine Walker died last year, done by an Iranian guy named Said Ismael. Kudos, Said. She looks way sharper than David Cameron.
10:37 AM: The extended royal family piles out of their buses. They look like a bunch of totally normal people, all slightly too happy to be here, and they’re a chatty group. The only way you can tell they’re royalty is that all of them seem Distinguished. Except the pre-teen girl who keeps fiddling with her hair.
10:38 AM: Here comes Charles. The BBC website has just posted this photograph from Thailand:
10:42 AM: Who on earth is in this car and why are they wearing an outfit entirely of butter-yellow? And such a boxy hat?
10:45 AM: It seems a little old-fashioned to me that whenever it’s time to critique somebody’s fashion, the male announcer quietly hands everything over to two chatty women. Actual quote: “It’s a fan-bloomin’-tastic day for British fashion.”
10:47 AM: Uh, so it turns out the person in all-yellow with a big yellow cylinder on their head is… the Queen. Sorry, United Kingdom. I hope I haven’t offended you. If it is any consolation, she does look slightly sharper than David Cameron.
10:50 AM: Wow, the household trumpeters should have practiced that a bit more. Couple of really wrong notes in that fanfare.
10:52 AM: The BBC camera has a great shot of Catherine Middleton’s right shoulder. The male announcer says, “It’s a delightful view.” Man, I wish my family had a whole fleet of Rolls Royces to transport everyone to my wedding.
10:54 AM: Pause for actual insight. I wonder if Catherine Middleton is ready for this. She’s got the waving to the crowd thing down. But does she really want this, to basically spend the next sixty years of her life–all of it–being a person who makes crowds happy by showing up and waving? They say marrying a man is marrying into his family, but that’s far more true here, when marrying William is marrying into William’s job and your own new full-time employment. I guess she has to want it; she has to be ready for it. It takes a very special kind of person, someone who doesn’t mind the incredible public burden, the paparazzi, the constant use at ceremonies as a kind of addition to the decor, because you at least get to be with the man you love and have your tea in really fancy teacups.
Of course, setting aside the fact that your job as a royal is to decorate public occasions and be glamorous, Kate’s actual job is to have children. Do they do tests? Now that we have technology, did William and Kate have to get their fertility checked out?
11:01 AM: One of the woman announcers confirms the identity of Kate’s wedding dress designer, and the other one actually says, “Yay!” I can’t remember the last time I heard someone say “Yay!”
11:03 AM: Kate walks in, looking slightly nervous. Suddenly I realize: this is the first actual wedding I’ve ever seen. I haven’t ever been to one. Certainly hadn’t watched one on television before. Just fake weddings in movies. So, here’s to seeing my first wedding.
11:06 AM: Props to Charles for choosing fantastic music for Kate’s entrance.
11:10 AM: Okay, asking all the guests to sing when you have one of the world’s greatest chamber choirs is silly. Even Elton John is mumbling.
11:13 AM: Jesus, Harry, stand still! Either he’s on a boat or he’s rocking back and forth on his feet like a schoolboy. He should take notes from Mr. Middleton, standing stock-still and looking as if he was born to be here. A very classy man, and much sharper-looking than David Cameron.
11:15 AM: When I get married, nobody’s going to get away with any threats about “the dreadful day of judgment.” Sorry, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, but that’s a load of bullfeathers.
11:18 AM: This is kind of magical.
11:19 AM: Rowan Williams’ eyebrows are in fine form today:
11:20 AM: Pronounced man and wife. Still kind of magical.
11:26 AM: Kate’s brother James commits the first major fashion faux pas of the day:
11:29 AM: Memo to John Rutter: Could you have made your new choral composition for today a little more boring? Oh, no, wait, you couldn’t. I could have written this music when I was 12.
11:33 AM: Time for a sermon. I’ll try not to be irreverent. I’ll focus on a bit at the beginning: “This is a joyful day.” It’s easy to forget that, because this is also a cynical day, a media frenzy day, a day wrapped up in questions like, “Who designed the dress?” “Why didn’t Kate say she’d ‘obey’ her husband in the vows?” and “Why do monarchies still exist?”–this is also a day where two people are getting married because they love each other. And, beneath the layers of sermons and formalities and red carpets and really bad music by John Rutter, every so often you get a little glimpse of what this is really about. People in love. That’s when the magic kicks in. It’s not because they’re royalty. If the BBC filmed two people in the slums of Mumbai crawling out of a box and joining hands in marriage in the middle of a muddy street, the same magic would be there, too.
11:36 AM: My own expert consultant writes to me, “Kate is wearing far too much eye makeup for this occasion.”
11:50 AM: The tempo of this thing confuses me. Prayer, grandiose tune by Parry, …another prayer? What’s the plan behind this order?
11:52 AM: The household trumpeters botching their fanfares, again. A couple of those notes were sharper than David Cameron.
12:05 PM: William Walton’s “Crown Imperial” march showing up all the earlier music with its sheer excellence. The royal couple are departing.
12:07 PM: And the live BBC feed blacks out. They haven’t left the building yet! Now the website is acknowledging that “this content doesn’t seem to be working.” After a few minutes I switch to PBS. They’re getting in the carriage. That is a GREAT carriage.
12:11 PM: Whoa! The horsemen pulling the carriage are wearing trim white wigs!
12:14 PM: Kate is looking down at her lap. Is she texting?
12:17 PM: That band in the horse guards parade that was quiet earlier is playing “God Save the Queen,” getting drowned out by the frenzied crowd and a helicopter.
12:19 PM: There was never a “you may kiss the bride” thing, was there? That’s one marriage myth I’ve had busted today. Or possibly the church are prudish.
12:29 PM: Everyone’s heading back to the palace; all the fun stuff is over. On the other hand, check out this hat:
12:35 PM: The excitement seems to have died down, so I’ll move on to getting some work done. Later I’ll head down to Westminster if it’s at all possible given the crowds. It’s been fun, and more than a little interesting.