It’s three in the morning in Los Angeles. I’m on the porch, chain smoking as I watch the royal wedding unfold on my laptop screen. Next to the video window, my Tweetdeck stream flows with the tweets of all the people I follow who are sharing this moment. It feels like we’ve come full circle to Ancient Rome. All of us sitting raucously around the Colosseum.
Of course, this isn’t a gladiator match we’re watching. It’s the wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, to Catherine Middleton at the historic Westminster Abbey in London. It’s a perfect wedding. Kate Middleton stands gloriously, a vision in a design by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen of satin gazar, hand-cut English and Chantilly lace. The gothic architecture of the Abbey lends itself perfectly to the many camera angles that frame the scene as the couple says their vows.
And then, they depart. No kiss – there is no kissing at Westminster Abbey. “We don't do that in the Church of England,” echo the words of the dean of Westminster. “That's sort of a Hollywood thing: 'You may now kiss the bride.' It doesn't happen here.”
We think: of course. Restraint is appropriate. Kissing can wait a little bit. But as soon as the newlyweds return to Buckingham Palace for their first kiss – at around 6:25AM Pacific – the roar of the Colosseum drowns out the emotion of the moment. The masses are disappointed. The short, demure kiss is seen as passionless and lackluster. Immediately speculation begins about the newly-wed couple’s love. The crowd begin to demand a do-over, the couple obliges, blushing. It’s awkward, spurring even more commentary across social media and blogs, which take apart both kisses with the precision of a surgeon. More pronouncements follow about the couple’s sex life and love.
The masses want to share in the couple’s incandescent passion; in short, they want the Hollywood thing. As sex researcher Debby Herbenick points out at The Daily Beast: “With such sexiness, such great looks, being young and truly in love (not arranged to marry)—this would be great, right? Their kiss would be long, passionate, and make us all swoon.”
This union, we’re inadvertently telling them, is not for them, members of a system we left long ago, but for us, not just their people, but the world. It’s a ridiculous and unjust demand. Herbenick’s conclusion matches my own: that the couple treasures their privacy over the desires of the world:
My hope, as a sex researcher and educator, is that they simply save the best for themselves when they’re alone. … The newlyweds were on the balcony to do what they were scheduled to do: kiss and wave and smile for the fans. They made no vows to give away any private parts of themselves in front of their nearby parents or the millions of viewers.
Our own American Princess here at BlogHer had some pertinent advice for the bride:
First and foremost, be yourself. If so many of the last generation of royal wives seems to say anything, it's that it's very easy to get lost in this brand new identity, and a new married name is only the beginning. Even though I knew my fiance's family for years before I married into it, the pressure to attend everything, to please everyone, to always say yes is daunting, and we're just common folk (though my husband is from Scotland and looks pretty smashing in a kilt). That new name can easily seem to be an entirely new person, but make no mistake, it's not a new beginning. You are who you always were and no brand new NHS card with a crown on it is going to change that.
Second, hold your head up high. No matter what pressure is put on you, decisions on when and how to raise your family are yours and yours alone. I know that for me, it's easier since there's no chance our parents are passing down much more than a set of old cookbooks and moderate mood disorders, whereas you're tasked with producing an heir to one of the last actual thrones, but look at it this way, if you're not ready, you're not ready. When you are, it'll be a national event and everyone will forget all those times they speculated that you weren't interested in wearing the fancy lingerie.
That’s something every wife and future bride should take to heart.
For more stories about the Royal Wedding, check out our series here at BlogHer.
AV Flox is the editor of Sex and the 405 -- what your newspaper would look like if it had a sex section.