The wedding and the reception
According to the BBC, the guest list of The Wedding™ has been finalized but not yet made public. 1,900 will be invited to Westminster Abbey to watch the nuptials, performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury (the office made famous by another who adamantly refused to unmarry another royal), while only 600 of those will be invited to a lunchtime reception at Buckingham Palace, with the dinner that evening being further restricted to half of those, or 300. I know what you are thinking, but, no, it’s not a question of rudeness. Not inviting to the reception all those that had to sit through an intensely tedious Anglican ceremony has more to do with the current Tory-Liberal government’s budget slashing. The royals have to worry that they may left on the cutting room floor (so to speak) if they go “whole hog,” an expression I understand Kate says a lot. You and I would never be able to live that down, but there are certain privileges that attend to the only royal family of a nuclear power. There is not likely to be a War of the British Succession, after all.
A note by Hugo Vickers, Royal Historian (don’t you love how the British remain so 18th Century?), says that it’s “Good to see that quite a lot of foreign royalty, about 40 of them, will be coming because they always add a good flavour to these occasions.” The first thing to note is that Royal Historians are permitted to be jaunty when they talk of weddings. When they talk of beheadings (of the royals, not their subjects), they are properly grave. Even so, you rarely hear a Military Historian speak with such ebullience: “Napalm was an inspired choice for this offensive because of the delightful barbecue ambiance it gave the surrounding forest.” But their emotional range is not their principal skill. Royal Historians have to know degrees of consanguinity that would tax the acumen of Franz Boas. Plus their knowledge bank must include all the positions and functions of all those royal hangers-on, sycophants, leeches and assorted riff-raff of kingli- and queenliness. I consider myself reasonably informed, but I only recently discovered that the function of gentlemen of the bedchamber did not include waking up the Queen. Evidently they rarely if ever enter a royal’s actual sleeping chamber. (Royals evidently do sleep in chambers, however, like bee larva or astronauts on a multiyear journey to another solar system.)
Now I’m trying to figure out where all these royalties will be coming from. I assume they will be strictly construing the term. That will leave out people who sport such titles as “Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya,” even though Muammar al-Gaddafi has the kind of power Prince William can’t even dream of commanding unless there is an even further, and unexpected, large reactionary shift in British politics. I say this, of course, without knowing if Gaddafi will be invited as a friend of the bride. (I doubt, however, that he will want to sit on that side of the aisle.)
So if you count only real royalty, how many can be invited? It’s hard to say how the whole Bahrain situation will turn out, but Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa might be busy in April and I don’t know how soon you have to return your RSVPs. In any event, he might be considered too Nouveau Royal for an institution that claims to go back to King Lear. The now Malik al-Bahrayn, after all, was merely an emir until he proclaimed himself a king in 2002. Yes, the monarchy is a brutal business, but if it doesn’t have style, it really is nothing. Sticking with the Middle East, you have Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Those royals would be good to invite because, being Muslim they can’t have liquor. That would be a good reason to put them on the Westminster Abbey-but-no-Buckingham-Palace list. You might as well throw in King Mohammed IV of Morocco and the King and Queen of Jordan as well. Queen Rania will also occupy at least a portion of the paparazzi.
I suppose you have to have all those European royals over. God knows Prince Williams is probably related to each of them in several different ways. So that gets you Andorra, Belgium, Denmark, Liechtenstein (“God! Do we have to? You know how he gets after the fifth glass of champagne!” “Now, Kate, you know they are somehow related to Grandmamma. Anyway, he can hold it better than your Aunt Bessie.” “Prince Bill, please, not my relatives again!”), Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway. Damn, I forgot Oman. Now we’re going to have to start all over. Or maybe just cut out the whole Middle East. Can we do that? The whole place reminds me of the Al-Fayed family. I know that’s not fair, but I can’t help it. After all, we’re just going to forget about Africa. What’s Lesotho going to do, send warships up the Thames? They’re landlocked. So why not the Middle East too?
Asia is where it gets tricky. But let’s skip that for now.
The BBC reports that the invitation stipulates the dress requirements as: “uniform, morning coat or lounge suit.” I can only attribute the last of these to the influence of Kate. You have to give credit to the current queen for being so good-natured about it; I doubt that George II would have permitted lounge suits in Westminster Abbey. Charles II would have, but that’s a different story.
Finally, Prince Williams has decided to “get real” as the youngsters say and is giving 80 tickets to representatives of the charities he concerns himself in. Given that they include “the homeless organisation Centrepoint, wildlife conservation group, Tusk Trust and the Royal Marsden Hospital,” the proceedings promise to be a regular zoo, particularly if a rhino wins one of the lottery tickets. Creationists all over the world, however, will be delighted to see a rhino tramping all over Darwin’s grave. I suspect all of you who didn’t get a ticket will be watching it on the telly anyway. If for nothing else to see what color lounge suit Hillary Clinton will be wearing.