Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Further reflections on the Royal Wedding - the popular response

Today being the birthday of the Duke of Cambridge seems an appropriate one on which, apart from expressing best wishes to His Royal Highness, to try to finish my reflections on his wedding to the Duchess.


In this post I want to comment on the popular response. Quite obviously from the crowds in London and the worldwide television audience there were a very great number of people watching because they wanted to. So much for the argument which one has heard before every major royal celebration for a generation and more - "People aren't interested anymore."

In a very British way we prepared in a very understated way for the celebrations. One or two shops started having commemoratives in their windows, then a few more ,and a few more, and Union flags started appearing. Slightly sheepishly people began to prepare to celebrate, and to admit to being positive about the day.

Nor can interest be dismissed with the jokey "Thanks for the day off" line which appeared. The popular response was extensive and genuine, and more complex than some would have us believe. Of course there is the appeal of pagentry and finery, and there is something of the general well wishing towards any couple entering into marriage, and here was a young couple clearly in love and serious about their committment to one another.

I sensed there was much more than that - a sense of a real wishing well to this couple because they are who they are and represent what they do. People wish them well because they wish the monarchy well. After the difficulties of the 1990s this was an opportunity, indeed
the opportunity, to look to the furture with a renewed belief in the tradition the institution embodies and carries. People were wishing the couple well because they really wanted things to work out well.

Friends who were in London have described that positive good will amongst the crowds, and watching it all on television here in Oxford at our party at the Oratory I sensed that feeling not only of affection for the Duke and Duchess, but also for that which they committing themselves to. At that party there was also that sense of community which such national events bring out.

this was not I suspect confined to subjects of the Crown. One friend in London told me that he was aware of the considerable number of Germans around who seemed very interested in the wedding. He, I am sure rightly, explained this as an awareness (sensed rather than expressed) on their part of what they are lacking in their own national life.

Another friend summed up the mood with his reaction to the day - "Who would not want to live under such a system?"


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