Friday, April 29, 2011

Of Spitfires and Kisses

The Batemans only stopped being subjects of the crown a scant 138 years ago, so I felt it a minor, personal duty to arise early enough to witness the wedding kiss. There were two very short ones: William is nothing if not the discrete young man.

I wish the new couple all the bliss that royal couples are and have ever been deprived of. I wish them success to exceed the dishonour that has afflicted British royalty since Edward's abdication in 1936.

(I was not up anywhere early enough to sing Jerusalem with the attendees at Westminster, though had it been at a better hour, I would have loved to do that. It's a fascinating anthem and one of my favourites. For all its faults and awful cuisine, I do love Great Britain, a green country, the land of Tolkien, Lewis, Carol, Austen and Shakespeare, concert hall to the Beatles, stage to Eric Clapton, summer garden to Ralph Vaughan Williams. It's the site of the foggy streets of Sherlock Holmes, stomping grounds of Chief Inspector Morse, and the City chambers of Horace Rumpole. I could go on and never stop...)

What brought an actual tear to my eye though, was the unexpected appearance of two Spitfires and an Avro Lancaster ahead of the Royal Air Force fly-over just before the nuptial appearance on Buckingham's well known balcony.

The deep significance of these aircraft, particularly the Spitfires, could not have gone unnoticed by those older present. There are only 44 airworthy Spitfires left in the world today—ever the buff, I looked it up.

That meaning was certainly not lost on me and constituted the emotional highlight of my morning: England would not have seen the coronation of Elizabeth and the wedding of William's parents, nor indeed today's festivities were it not for a few thousand hopeless little aircraft fending off the crushingly superior numbers of the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain 71 years ago. This was a touching tribute to Elizabeth who herself fought on the home front in World War II. It should have reminded the millions looking on of the sacrifice of many millions more for freedom in the world and of a time when Britain stood alone against evil.

God save Britain whose torch lit the beacon America has held up to the world—faltering now in its turn. And God save William and Kate: May they restore honour, decorum and respectability to the monarchy.

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