The XX Factor

Why I Won’t Watch the Royal Wedding

At 4 a.m. this Friday, I expect to be sound asleep.

In this, I apparently differ from at least some of the women of my cohort. Like Lara DiPaola, Tammy Harris, Julie Hall, and Laura Richards, all of whom told the New York Times that they would be tuning in at that hour to Prince William’s marriage to Kate Middleton , I was in elementary school when Prince Charles married the then Lady Diana Spencer. But unlike those women (and I suspect this is key), I have no actual memory of the pomp and ceremony that I now know (I don’t live in a cave, after all) surrounded that event.

DiPaola’s mother allowed her to “play hooky” 30 years ago to watch that wedding. Harris, too, cites a childhood memory of being awakened by her mother to watch. Hall says, “Diana and her wedding had a huge impact on me as a 10-year-old girl.” They’re carrying on a valued family tradition by rising before dawn to drink tea in front of the telly. By sleeping in, I’m doing the same.

If my mother was aware of the Charles-and-Diana wedding (and I’m sure she was: again, the cave thing), I can’t remember her commenting on it. Quite probably we watched some highlight from it on the news, as one did back then, and then got on with our lives, unimpacted. I don’t think she was making any kind of anti-Cinderella-story cultural statement in not watching. I don’t think she thought paying undue attention to the wedding would give me Prince Charming fantasies or interfere with my nascent feminist status or even feed my already present interest in meat pies, Turkish delight, and jammy buns. (I was definitely an anglophile when it came to children’s books.) I think she … just didn’t care.

And that is where, a generation later, I find myself.  I like a good wedding dress as much as the next girl, but that’s as far as my interest goes. Without ever intending to, my mom passed down a deeply held belief with every celebrity wedding, blow-up, or melt-down she ignored: that the really interesting stuff was our own real life.

Does that mean that the women who’ve made big plans for the wedding of two total strangers are setting a lousy example for their sons and daughters? That seems like reading a lot into a few scones and the possible wearing of large hats at dawn. But as I giggle at their attempts to justify their interest  (today’s princess is tomorrow’s role model! She’ll make a difference in the world! It’s way better than Snooki!) ,  I get the sense that although I’m not particularly judging their choice-why not watch, if you’re at all likely to be entertained-they are. Royalty-watching seems to be a guilty pleasure even as it becomes a dying pastime , and we are more aware than ever that neither of these people has done anything at all to earn our interest, no matter what they may someday achieve. Other than an appreciation for the spectacle itself, it’s pretty near impossible to come up with a rational reason to watch. Which is just one reason that I’m glad I don’t have to.