"Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire."
- Saint Catherine of Siena, quoted in today's wedding sermon
In his commentary for the BBC on today's happy events, the historian Simon Schama, author of A History of Britain and Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution, himself a one-time socialist, remarked that in the midst of a zeitgeist which holds that this is a generation which does not value tradition or sentiment, the Royal Wedding was a grand refutation of that theory. As one million people surged down the Mall towards Buckingham Palace to cheer the couple's first appearance on the balcony, Schama stated the obvious when he said that the idea that this is a totally cynical generation obsessed with the individual must take something of a battering today. He also, thankfully, took a swipe at those who claim such outpourings of public sentiment are childish or naive, saying that it is a celebration of community, of nationhood and of sentiment. And that's a good thing.
As a family, we got up this morning at seven to watch the BBC's coverage of the event, beginning at eight. Shortly after the broadcast started, the news was broken that Her Majesty The Queen had bestowed on her grandson a title from each of the three peerages in the monarchy - England, Scotland and (northern) Ireland. His Royal Highness was to become Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus and I will be blogging on the historical background of those three titles later. For us, it was a wonderful moment to see the Prince getting married in the uniform of the Irish Guard which, of course, his late great-grandmother Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother had such a strong association with and which he himself is Colonel-in-Chief of.
It was an absolutely wonderful day for all of us watching. It made me proud to be British and proud to be a monarchist. Without sounding too smug or triumphalist, I don't think there is another country in the world whose government could have commanded scenes like today. One million people surging calmly and happily down the Mall, having queued in some cases for days to be a part of today's historical events. It's just wonderful and I can't wait for next year's celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee! I remember watching the Golden back in 2002 and promising that I would be there with my friends and the people I loved in 2012 to celebrate. Apart from anything else, it was so much fun and it's great to have days like this. The royal couple are so obviously in love and the smiles they shared, as well as the giggle from the new Duchess of Cambridge after her second kiss, was great to watch. I really enjoyed myself. The coverage was excellent and some of the interviews with the assembled crowd were by turns moving and hilarious.
Wearing a tiara loaned to her by the Queen and carrying a bouquet of forget-me-nots which she will lay on the tomb of the Unknown Warrior later today, Princess Catherine looked timelessly elegant in her Sarah Burton-designed wedding gown. The music was magnificent and it was touching to see on the parade's return to the Palace that every time her husband, who is a member of the Armed Forces, saluted his comrades, the Princess bowed her head in respect. The couple repeated this action when they passed the Cenotaph memorial to the Glorious Dead and they saluted men and women who died in the defence of the nation. Seeing the Prince and Princess's actions, I was reminded of only a few months ago of the actions of others - when rioters swung from the memorial's flags.
When the Queen returned from Westminster Abbey (where I thought the Bishop of London delivered a fantastic sermon), she turned to one of the footmen and said happily, "It's amazing." And, in more ways than one, it is. After all the smug criticism and the repeated carping in the press and from armchair intellectuals of "the tarnished crown," after years of being told that republicanism is a self-evident truth and anyone who is a royalist is either a snob or an idiot, it is amazing to find that people don't actually believe everything they're told. Billions tuned in from all over the globe to celebrate and millions thronged the capital city in a display of public happiness that you quite simply couldn't get from another political system. Proud, happy, fun - just a great, great day. Which I hope everyone reading this enjoyed too.
To Their Royal Highnesses, a very happy day and many congratulations. The love and affection between them was quiet but obvious. This was a wonderful moment and I am very happy.