Americans seem gripped by the Royal Wedding on Friday. TV, radio and newspapers are filling up with pieces about the events of the day, and the personal stories of the bride- and bridegroom-to-be. The coverage and interest has been almost as intense here as at home in the UK.
As British Ambassador here in the U.S. I'm moved to reflect on what this says about the relationship between our countries. Why is a nation whose founding document rejects the "absolute despotism" and "long train of abuses and usurpations" of a past British king so gripped by the marriage of a future one?
Of course a great deal of the interest is focused on Prince William and Catherine Middleton themselves, and on the details of the day. Anyone who's ever planned or gone through (if that's the right word) their own wedding day can't help but be interested by how one on this grand scale is put together. But I think there's something more underlying the interest here -- a shared curiosity about each other's countries, history and traditions, and a shared familiarity and comfort with each other. As the drafters of the Declaration of Independence said in another context, people here have not been "wanting in attention to [their] British brethren" and the "ties of our common kindred."
Though 1776 may not be the best example, a lot of this is based on shared history. But there's more than that. You can't be each other's largest investors as we are -- with two million jobs depending on that relationship on both sides of the Atlantic -- without getting to know each other pretty well. The men and women of our armed forces fight and sacrifice alongside each other more than any other nation's -- as today in Afghanistan or Libya. We do more scientific research together than any other two countries. Millions of our citizens travel between our countries each year, as do tens of thousands of our college students. All of these individual links create networks of familiarity, trust and friendship which are the foundation of our overall relationship. It helps, too, that we speak (broadly) the same language; and that our cultures and media are so transparent to each other (the last Academy Awards, as I've said before on this blog, are a great example -- and also with a royal theme).
So our teams across the United States will be celebrating the day with their friends, colleagues and contacts in a variety of ways. We're organizing a kids' street party (a British tradition) here in D.C.; others are running charity events (the royal couple have a charity wedding list); and in typical New England Puritanical style (and thanks to a time difference that on this occasion doesn't work in our favor) our Consul-General in Boston is hosting a 6 a.m. wedding breakfast, with heart-shaped doughnuts provided by an American company (with a British CEO), which is making them especially for Royal Wedding day.
Our political counselor, Nic Hailey -- an English lit major -- was even moved to turn all of this into verse -- I've included his pair of sonnets (the classic form for love poetry) below.
It's striking how Americans are gripped
By these spring nuptials: even though the bond
Of Royal government has long since slipped,
The int'rest in events across the pond
(Particularly Royal) is as strong
As back at home in Britain. So, for me,
To fail to mark this day would be quite wrong.
We're therefore organising, in DC,
A children's party on a Georgetown street;
New York's great skyscraper will be lit up;
Our Boston office - up at 6 - will treat
Its guests to heart-shaped donuts (and a cup).
And Britons all across this great Republic
Will mark the day with the American public.
Why is this so important here? Our past
Binds us together, allies through the years;
Our common values, language - and, not last,
A shared approach to global threats and fears;
All these make our alliance one to prize.
But there's much more: two million jobs depend
On our investment in shared enterprise;
You send more students to us than you send
To other nations, as we do to you;
Our shows, plays, music, are shared conversations;
Our scientists and innovators show
The world its most exciting innovations.
Today's togetherness is not a blip:
It's part of a long, strong relationship.