But why is a royal wedding such big news anyway, and why we do care so much? People often profess a deep love of the royal family, but is it really loving to create such a demand for “news” that Meghan, Harry, and their loved ones are being hounded by the paparazzi, and can’t even step outside the doors of their homes without being harassed?
People seem to have an innate instinct for enjoying celebrity and finding pleasure in having someone to look up to is certainly nothing new. Around the world and throughout history, the marriages of members of the elite have typically been celebrated in great style and have attracted lots of attention. But there are other factors at play too.
Princes William and Harry have been in the public eye since they were born—or even longer, if you count all the pages devoted to Princess Di’s baby bumps and maternity wear. The British public saw them as babies, saw them when they started out at school, and cried with them when they walked behind their mother’s coffin following her tragically early death. All of this exposure to moving and still images of the two young members of the royal family creates the false impression of actually knowing them personally. After all, many of us have been exposed to more images of the royal family than of our own family.
Also, because the ups and downs of the royal family get so much attention and news coverage, their lives can become a sort of cipher for our own. Their losses, frailties, triumphs, and celebrations seem to become imbued with meaning, and perhaps seem to help us to make sense of our own lives. For those who are tempted to feel nostalgic about the past, a royal wedding is an opportunity to revel in an idealised version of it, while the thoroughly modern Meghan gives modernists the chance to point to a changing royal family.
Furthermore, people are inherently social animals, and almost all of us enjoy being part of something big. Running a marathon, getting caught up in the latest internet craze, or swapping news stories about the royal wedding can be all a form of collective behaviour that serves as a bonding experience as we enjoy the sensation of going through an exciting experience with millions of others.
Whatever our personal reasons for enjoying a royal wedding, it’s important to remember that, at the end of the day, it’s really about two people who love each other and want to be together. Hopefully Meghan and Harry will be given the time and space they need to enjoy their wedding and marriage.
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