I have to say that I was disappointed in the behaviour of many of the Royals at the Royal Wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on Saturday. I’m actually going to pretty much hit the ground running with this one. Their behaviour during the sermon of Bishop Michael Curry, who is currently the leader of the Episcopal Church, and was invited by Meghan Markle and Prince Harry to do an address at the wedding, was nothing short of appalling. In fact, I’m actually going to go so far as to say, who do you think you are, royalty?
Please understand, I type this from the position of being a pure and utter monarchist. I fell in love with Queen Elizabeth at the tender age of 11 or 12 after reading a book called, The Little Princesses, which was written by Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret’s childhood nanny, Marion Crawford. I later found out that the Queen and Princess Margaret were hurt by the fact that many of their childhood secrets were exposed by their nanny, but the book is a wonderful read for anyone interested in the wealth of character, wit and tenacity that is Queen Elizabeth II, and how her childhood and teenage years set the stage for her to become the longest reigning monarch in the UK.
I still remember the engagement of Prince Charles and Princess Diana and the fun and excitement of viewing the first senior royal wedding of my lifetime. Alas, I have just been advised that I will have probably just witnessed the last, and that is one of the reasons I was front and centre in my living room from midnight to 5:00 PST on the morning of May 19th.
The birth of William and Harry and the weddings of Prince Andrew and Prince Edward that followed were also highlights to me, as well as, of course, the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the births of their three beautiful children. It’s exciting to be part of these times, and to be included, albeit thousands of miles away in front of a TV screen.
I was also born in a Commonwealth country, and grew up singing “God Save The Queen” in school, and being very familiar with Queen Elizabeth’s portrait as it dons many public facilities in Canada. I have a very fleeting memory as a very young child (probably Princess Charlotte’s age) of going to the Post Office with my mother and seeing the Union Jack in full display prior to Canada receiving it’s own official flag.
So, it is a bit disappointing to me to “pen” these words now.
I find it distressing that we live in a world today where criticizing others needlessly has become nothing short of an art form. No, I’m not talking about venting because someone has hurt your feelings or being annoyed by something and finally having to let it out lest you burst in frustration and say something you shouldn’t. I’m also not referring to teasing, where the recipient is in on the joke and therefore not hurt or otherwise distressed by it.
What I’m speaking of is needless mockery and shaming. You know the type I mean, the adolescent, oh, maybe I can catch Jenny-Sue’s eye and we can share a giggle together, or, maybe if I have a strange enough look on my face I will get some attention and a laugh, or even worse, out and out criticism to create a bond with another party in solidarity of ridicule of another person. These types of behaviours are done at someone else’s expense.
And, if done in a public or global setting, they display an unbelievable lack of personal growth and respect (in my opinion anyway). I am embarrassed to say that I was naive enough to think that the Royals were above it. They’re the Royals after all, but on Saturday, May 19, 2018 these kinds of behaviours were on full display in the right-hand side pews of St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, during Bishop Michael Curry’s address, and the Internet was alive with highlighting it.
Bishop Curry’s speech was beautiful. It was dotted throughout with quotes by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as well as other African-American leaders. Appropriate, I thought, given the bride’s heritage. The address itself was delivered in a lively and typically gospel fashion, so perhaps much different than many people have witnessed, particularly maybe, in Britain.
And, admittedly, I would be unrealistic if I didn’t acknowledge that Bishop Curry’s delivery was perhaps a bit longer-winded than was necessary, and there were times when his speech was a bit confusing because of taking off on a few tangents here and there.
His message was really very simple though. I don’t think I missed anything. His message was that love is beautiful and powerful, and if we could harness and use that power the way we have harnessed and used the power of fire, what a beautiful place the world would be. How ironic that the behaviour of the Royals so clearly spelled out the fact that, as a society, we’re definitely not there yet.
Bishop Curry is an honoured and highly educated man. He graduated with high honours from Hobart University and has a Master of Divinity from Yale. He has studied Islam, Judaism and Christianity, and has studied at various other Universities and Seminaries. He also has a host of honorary degrees. The list goes on, and in fact, he was appointed as a member of the Order of St. John by Queen Elizabeth herself in 2015. Perhaps there was no family memo. In short, he knows his stuff.
Also distressing was the fact that he was there at the request of the bride, to celebrate her heritage, and in scoffing at him, her new family were also scoffing at her (I must point out as well that Ms. Markle’s behaviour throughout the address was the epitome of grace and dignity). I guess there is some poetic justice though, in the fact that in 10 or 15 short minutes, the Royals were able to even up the “weird family” score.
At any rate, I guess my problem is that I’m a mom, and I abhor bullying of any kind, and mockery is a form of bullying, albeit passive-aggressive. And more than that, if we want our society to be free of bullying behaviour, we have to teach society that the behaviour is wrong. And one of the ways we do this is by having respectful behaviour role-modelled by our leaders, our icons and by the people that we admire and respect. And, no family falls into this category better than the Royal Family of the UK.
I’ll always sing when they play “God Save the Queen/King”; but I’ll always be a bit disappointed too …