May 1, 2011
LAWRENCE AUSTER writes:
Here are some thoughts on the Wedding. I’ve tried to put some sequence into my ideas, but for the most part this is a miscellany.
First, it is simply not realistic in our time to expect an heir to the throne of Great Britain to find a woman to marry who is suitable in all other ways and is a virgin to boot. There are very few virgins today in Britain, let alone young women of the appropriate background for a royal marriage who are virgins.
However, it seems to me that there is a big gap between (1) “Not being a virgin,” and (2) “Having lived with the prince for much of the last ten years.” That really puts something of a damper on the whole concept of the marriage.
However, on the positive side, William and Kate did finally get married, which Kate has wanted to do all along. In this day and age, that is something. Given all the obstacles to marriage in our time, we could say that, no matter what preceded it, if it ended with marriage, that is good.
Which leads to the next point. Since marrying William has been essentially the only desire and project of Kate’s adult life, and she has had so much time to prepare for it, why was she so ill at ease? Her features were not composed. She had no brave face. Her face seemed to twitch whenever a priest pronounced the name of God.
As to the endless talk about her not taking the vow to obey, everyone seems to have missed the very un-contemporary and sex-differentiating vows they took. William vowed to care for Katherine as Christ cared for the Church. Katherine vowed to be “amiable.” William put a ring on her finger. There is no ring on William’s finger. The sexes were not treated the same in this wedding.
Also about Kate’s appearance. That dress was ugly. It was too tight, especially the area over her bosom, so you saw the shape and lines of the bra or whatever structure was under her dress. This reminded me of the tight tops with sports bras that women wear now in the summertime, where the outlines of the sports bra show through the top. It is the opposite of attractive or alluring. I can’t believe that with all the advisors involved in the choice of dress, no one pointed out this problem.
Also, I have to say, she did not look beautiful or even pretty. She looked plain and ordinary.
But again, on the positive side, the way the entire affair was carried out, and the magnificent words of the traditional Anglican wedding ceremony, including those very realistic yet spiritual words about the purpose of marriage, something about taking the natural inclinations that God has planted in man and woman and raising them to a higher level through marriage, were very fine. Even if the British don’t believe a word of it, they carried it out as though they did, and something in their souls had to be affected by it.
On the negative side, tomorrow the British monarchy and church will be back calling for more diversity to destroy Britain.
Speaking of which, the entire proceedings created the impression that London was once again an English, white city, rather than the multicultural, multiracial metropolis it has actually become.
Also, I very much liked William’s modest, thoughtful demeanor. Combined with his balding head, it made me think of his great great great great grandfather Prince Albert.
One last point: The requirement that Charles marry a virgin led to the choice of the immature and insecure Diana, which did not end well. Of course, her insecurity was massively exacerbated by the monstrous behavior of Charles (and his married mistress Camilla), who undermined her from the start; but her insecurity and her excessive emotional needs—excessive, at least, for someone in that position—were also there from the start and were a problem.
— Comments —
Virginity should not be the sole or the most important qualification, but I think it is still possible for one of the most eligible men in the world to find a woman in her early twenties who is a virgin and suitable for a wife. In any event, even if it is very difficult to find such a woman, royalty are not entitled to live like everyone else and to choose as easily. They never have lived like everyone else. The conditions under which royal marriages are made were much, much harsher in the past and someone in William’s position today has remarkable freedom. It would have been better if William and Kate had married years ago and the fact that they have lived together speaks to a lack of understanding for his position, self-absorption and poor guidance by their parents and the Queen. If it was the sole project of Kate’s life to marry Will, she didn’t go about it the right way. Kate is old for a royal bride.
But I think they are allowed their mistakes and they’ve gotten married. That’s good, or so one hopes.
Returning to the question of virginity, not too long ago many young women married as virgins or near-virgins. And in that not-too-distant time, marriages lasted longer. So youth and inexperience do not in themselves doom marriages. Diana was not the only virgin or eligible young noblewoman in Britain. She wasn’t chosen only for that reason. If Charles was not expected to marry a virgin it’s hard to imagine things would have worked out much better. It seems that he was not genuinely searching for a suitable wife to love (other than Camilla) and that was a big problem. But Charles and Diana did have children and that is significant. You seem to be making contradictory points. On the one hand, you say it is wrong to be highly concerned that a royal bride be a virgin in this day and age, and then you say that it is wonderful to see the resemblance between William and Prince Albert, a resemblance which may never have been created if Diana had not been young and fertile. It was not petty for the royal family to be concerned about her youth, fertility and virginity when choosing Diana.
You make good points about the ceremony and vows.
I also agree that the Kate’s gown was ugly. It was immodest and she had a hard appearance. I didn’t want to criticize her dress yesterday because I think that’s a fairly petty matter on the actual day of the wedding. It was too low cut and the bodice was too tight.
Mr. Auster writes:
I think that’s a fairly petty matter on the actual day of the wedding.
First, isn’t the bride’s dress customarily a topic of top interest at a wedding? Especially among the women?
Second, do you regard it as a sufficiently un-petty matter on the day after the wedding?
The bride’s dress is one of the main interests of everyone, but on the day of the wedding it shouldn’t be a topic of public discussion except for positive remarks and description of details.
There is plenty of time after a wedding to judge the dress and I think it’s perfectly okay to do so later, even the next day, after good wishes already have been extended or after the couple has been given one day of respectful attention. With a wedding this symbolic and important, the dress is so much less significant than the consecration of the vow that public criticism of it is inappropriate until after the wedding day.
Mr. Auster writes:
Also the maid of honor’s gown was too tight and revealing. These form-fitting, low-cut clothes distract from everything else about the woman. In contrast, the ladies-in-waiting (if that’s the correct term) at Elizabeth’s coronation wore stunningly beautiful gowns that were modest.
Karen I. writes:
There is a lot of commentary online regarding Pippa Middleton, Kate Middleton’s sister and maid of honor. Pippa Middleton wore a tight, ivory dress with a plunging neckline to her sister’s wedding. I am sending a picture along. Also pictured is a revealing green dress Pippa wore to the Royal Wedding Reception.
Many online comments say that Pippa upstaged her sister on her big day.
Pippa’s gown at the wedding reflected poorly on the bride.
Mr. Auster writes:
I wasn’t aware until I read this thread that Katherine Middleton’s sister is named Pippa. Let us be thankful that that the bride’s name was Katherine, not Pippa. Can you imagine “Princess Pippa”? “Queen Pippa”? That would have been the end of the monarchy right there; it would have dissolved in laughter.
Perhaps it was having the traditional name Katherine that made it possible for Katherine to see herself as a possible wife to the prince and ultimately Queen. It would be hard for a woman named Pippa to imagine herself in that role. Names matter.
When I woke up on the day of the royal wedding I was so excited to see wedding dress, but as I perused photos of the bride I was a little disappointed. The dress would have been ever so much more lovely if it didn’t have that immodest low dip at her chest. I think the designer was trying to create a modern spin on Grace Kelly’s beautiful wedding dress. It was ugly and distracting. Though I did think that Katherine was a lovely bride, as a royal she didn’t live up to my expectations. I feel that people in her position set the bar for the rest of us. Something in me craves the ancient traditions of modest, strong, dignified womanhood fulfilling her beautiful role as wife and mother. In a poetic way I feel that all women can portray this dignity and honor in their own homes. How much more important is it for an actual princess to portray modest, dignified behavior to the world!? There were several elements about the royal wedding that I loved, but I have been a little disappointed by the whole thing. They lived together before marriage…that’s the big one. It just saddens me. I don’t want my daughter to grow up admiring this princess’s premarital behavior. We live in a time when the concept of duty is fading into the past. What will become of a people who live completely for their own desires? Sometimes duty to a higher cause comes before one’s passing emotional desires…
I love your blog and visit here often. I’ve never commented, but have to put in my two cents here. While I do agree that Pippa’s gown was inappropriate, I would not say the same for Kate:
Laura wrote: “I also agree that the Kate’s gown was ugly. It was immodest and she had a hard appearance. I didn’t want to criticize her dress yesterday because I think that’s a fairly petty matter on the actual day of the wedding. It was too low cut and the bodice was too tight.”
“Also about Kate’s appearance. That dress was ugly. It was too tight, especially the area over her bosom, so you saw the shape and lines of the bra or whatever structure was under her dress.”
I would not say the dress was too tight at all. The top was flattering and the skirt had just the right amount of fullness = A-line, but not so big as to look like a wedding cake, as many of them are. And I absolutely LOVED the lace sleeves and the veil. The dress was not immodest compared with most wedding fashion. Note: I was married not so long ago. I wound up having my dress made because everything in the shops is sleeveless or garishly sequined and sleeveless, or sex-pot a-la Pippa, or short and sleeveless and tight with rhinestones. You get the idea. Not that my wedding dress is comparable to that of a royal, I am just making the point that Kate’s dress was relatively modest compared to today’s norm.
“Hard Appearance” – Kate is not a beauty, in my humble opinion. She’s attractive, about average. Makeup only does so much…she could have only looked better by having a true classic beauty stand in for her.
Your photo of Grace Kelly: She is just beautiful in that gown. Kate could not have pulled that gown/look off because she is not nearly that pretty. Sorry to be so harsh, but that’s the reality of the situation. Most of us couldn’t, in fact. I.e., that neckline and tight hairstyle put emphasis on the face – the face must be perfect for the look to work.
All in all, I’d say Kate’s look was a great success.
The lace sleeves were very beautiful, and I also liked the veil and the cut of the skirt. Mostly it was that plunging neckline, which exposed a bony collarbone and was just too revealing. The cut of the bodice drew too much attention to her breasts.
More than anything else, I hope and pray (literally begging God) that this marriage endures until death. For the sake of all the little girls who will grow up idolizing Katherine and all the adult women who foolishly idolize her. I hope against hope that this royal marriage endures through the coming hard times. I hope it will prove to be a beacon for marriage everywhere, a lamp post in the dark to prove that marriage does work. That marriage is beautiful even when it’s difficult. If they end up divorcing it will send such a horrible message to women everywhere. “You can have your big special day, but it probably won’t work out long term.” Tragic. Difficult days will come, and how will they respond? I’m so nervous for our culture.
Also, both of Pippa’s dresses were horrible choices. The first dress was so distracting! It really did take attention away from the bride! She was almost more attractive than the bride! I would have loved to see her wear something more traditional and modest. She too is now a “role model.” What will she tell us about womanhood? The strange emerald dress she wore to the reception was not attractive at all. Period. I wouldn’t even wear this dress. Ever. It was sad, but I chalked it up to British modern style. It wasn’t even the immodesty factor. I just didn’t like her dress. It wasn’t pretty, classy, or feminine. She didn’t look repulsive in it, but it completely lacked that special something that I wanted to see the sister of the princess wearing.
They didn’t set the bar very high.
There was one moment that did impress me though. As the royal couple rode in the carriage to the palace after the wedding they paid respect to the fallen soldiers at one point. Prince William saluted handsomely and Katherine gently and femininely bowed her head out of respect and deference. It was a theatrical moment, but still I appreciated it. Katherine didn’t brazenly look up at the memorial. She didn’t salute (as many manly American women might have!). She meekly bowed her head as her husband sat at attention and saluted. I appreciated that moment for the message it sent.
If this marriage does not last, I don’t see how this particular line of the British monarchy can continue.
Before judging Kate’s gown, I’d recommend a look at what’s out there/in style. Some of these look more like nightgowns than wedding gowns…some are too short to be worn period, nevermind at your wedding. Not a sleeve to be found anywhere. Note: this is why I had mine made. Which would you pick?
My own dress was the simplest thing you can imagine – plus the fabric covered buttons, which I really like and are very hard to find. This “easy sew” pattern dress couldn’t be found in any bridal shop. I went to about five of them before just giving up.
Mr. Auster writes:
“If this marriage does not last, I don’t see how this particular line of the British monarchy can continue.”
This reminds me of the fact, which I had forgotten until seeing the wedding on Friday night, that three of Queen Elizabeth’s four children have been divorced. Charles, Anne, and Andrew all divorced their first spouse. That’s a pretty disastrous and embarrassing record for the most prominent royal family in the world. Ironically, Elizabeth’s fourth child, Edward, who was widely thought to be homosexual, is still married to his pretty wife and they have two children.
Laura F. writes:
Lawrence Auster was awfully hard on Pippa Middleton and her name. I assume it is short for Philippa. It usually is. “Queen Philippa” would be fine, wouldn’t it?
That is her full name. It is strange that she is not referred to by her full name by the press.
Mr. Auster responds to Laura F.:
I’m glad to hear it. Still, my point about “Katherine” holds. What if she had one of the stupid female names of today? Tiffany, or Kelly, or something like that?
A reader writes:
That is her full name. It is strange that she is not referred to by her full name by the press.
Remember the press shortened Diana to Di.
James P. writes:
In his comments, Mr. Auster says the coverage conveyed the impression that London is “an English, white city.” As it happens, I was in London this weekend, and I can assure you this is far, far from the case. Riding on the underground, one gains the impression that whites are a minority — blacks, Indians / Pakistanis, and east Asians predominate. Nor are the English white people impressive specimens — in the main they are obese, poorly dressed, and crass in behavior.
Regarding James P.’s comments, my husband told me exactly the same thing about London and the English just last night. And, going a little further, Kate and William may not be terribly attractive by American standards, but by English, they are.
Might you and your commenters be a little harsh on the subject of the modesty of royal dresses? Here are some portraits of Queen Alexandra, Edward VII’s wife. The first one is the wedding photograph. Notice that the arms and shoulders are bare and the bodice looks tight.
Posted by Laura Wood in Uncategorized