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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

Karan Thapar

The church on time
Karan Thapar, Hindustan Times
May 07, 2011
First Published: 22:56 IST(7/5/2011)
Last Updated: 22:59 IST(7/5/2011)

Ten days ago I was one in two billion, by which I don’t mean someone special but only one of very many people. But I was delighted by that. In fact, I wouldn’t have had it otherwise. I sat glued to the television screen, transfixed by the British Royal Wedding. I was bewitched, enraptured, entranced — the adjectives I’ve chosen aren’t exaggerations.

Now, however, I’m befuddled, even dismayed, by the carping comments of people who don’t know how to enjoy themselves. What I most dislike is the superior tone that suggests they were above it.

So, today, I want to reply to the tribe of killjoys and miserable souls who don’t know how to have fun.

Yes, the wedding was a spectacle and even a real-life fairytale romance. But it was intended to be. And what pomp and pageantry! If you’re going to watch a royal wedding, it needs to be special. And that’s precisely what it was. So if you missed it, you failed to watch something you probably won’t see again for another 30 years.

And, frankly, more fool you!

Yet it wasn’t all show. The couple at the centre was also mesmerising. He is tall and handsome, she beautiful and alluring. They are made for their roles. The comment that he’d dressed up like a ‘band master’ only reveals how little we know of military uniforms. Our officers on mess-night look very similar.

But the scene-stealer was William driving Kate home in a cabriolet sports car with ‘Just Wed’ on the number plate. A very clever send-up, indeed.

However, it wasn’t just the glamour that had me hooked. Equally impressive was the perfect organisation of what must have been a nightmare to arrange. Everything happened bang on time and nothing went wrong. Even the little difficulty William had slipping-on the ring almost seemed like a purposely designed moment of light relief.

There were, perhaps, a million people on the streets watching the procession and, maybe, six or seven hundred thousand outside Buckingham Palace waiting for the kiss on the balcony. The police handled them with restraint and skill. In most other countries, such numbers would have probably ended in a riot.

The royals rode through all this, in an open-topped carriage, without any fear and without any known risk. In contrast, our lot shut the city down whenever they venture out.

The ultimate truth is that in this age of democracy, with Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Tunisia fighting for freedom and rights, we’re still fascinated by privilege, pomp and pageantry. There’s none — or only a few — so cold-hearted not to be curious about, or captivated by, the spectacle.

For a few hours we’re transported into an almost make-believe world of fantasy and fable. And what’s the harm? After all, we’ll have to eventually return to our normal, dreary lives of drudgery and drabness but when we do, we’ll be a little richer, a little happier, for the brief escape.

As I watched the wedding and the procession, I recalled what King Farouk of Egypt is reported to have said when he was deposed in 1952: “One day there will be just five kings left in the world — The Kings of Hearts, Spades, Clubs and Diamonds and the King of England.”

It may be an apocryphal story but, with each passing year, the sentiment at its heart becomes increasingly, if not indisputably, true.

Alas, I doubt if I’ll be around when Kate and William’s son gets married!

(The views expressed by the author are personal)


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