Videos for the Classroom: Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s Wedding; The 2010 Opening of Parliament

C-SPAN link to the State Opening of the UK Parliament 2010

As Wills and Kate get ready to take the big step this Friday, the Neighborhood would like to delve into both fantasy and reality.

Back in 1981, the world gaped in awe as another prince married a young Briton who took the nation by storm.  Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, parents of Prince William, were wed in a “fairy-tale” ceremony in St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Attached is the ABC News coverage of the event.  We all saw how well that turned out.

The second video (both the snippet and the entire video which is linked on C-SPAN) is one of my favorite ceremonies, the State Opening of Parliament in May of 2010.  Since William is angling for the throne in the future, this will be one of his most important state functions.  Most of the ritual involves the monarch officially opening Parliament from the upper house, the House of Lords, an unelected body dating from feudal times.  Yet the most intriguing part of the ceremony is the summoning of the elected House of Commons, or “lower house.”

Watch the ritual closely, as the message is not lost on anyone: you may reign as monarch, but you do not rule this kingdom.  The Commons makes the laws for the realm, no matter what ritual abides.

As for William and Kate Middleton, I understand choosing a different church from your parents.  But Westminster Abbey is like having the wedding near both your birthplace and your tombstone–in this case literally.  The Abbey is traditionally where monarchs are crowned as well as buried: maybe Will and Kate wanted to pick a good spot next to Oscar Wilde (at least then Will can rest easy–I doubt Oscar would make a move).

In any case, the Neighborhood wishes the newlyweds the best of luck in marriage, in producing an heir (hopefully with a minimum of that famous Windsor inbreeding–thanks Kate!), and in hopefully weening the royals off the teat of the welfare checks they get from the British nation.

Let’s see how that last one pans out.

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