Once Upon a time—this morning– in a land just across the Atlantic, Britain’s Prince William married a commoner named Catherine and they became the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Across the world, and in New York many were in the throws of Royal wedding fever, while others exhibited royal wedding fatigue—and not just from waking up early to see the ceremony. Sandhya Dirks has the story.
Tea and Sympathy has been a royal wedding go to spot for weeks now—and last night? They were fresh out of just about everything.
“You don’t sell ginger cake or any kind of cake… or…could you sell me a whole Victoria sponge?” asked customer Emily Bergel.
Bergel was undaunted—she was planning on making a night of it.
“I am so excited I can’t even tell you,” she said. “I’m probably gonna stay up all night baking scones.”
She is making them for an early morning viewing party. But a native Brit doesn’t understand Bergel’s and other American’s fascination with the bride.
“I tried to explain to them that she is going to live a life of repression and misery and no privacy but they don’t understand,” he said.
He observed that many American girls dream of growing up to be a Princess— and getting to wear the dress.
Flash forward 12 hours and…
Vanessa Crane: “Stunning, understated, I’m glad it’s McQueen,” Vanessa Crane said of Catherine Middleton’s dress. “Yeah she’s beautiful, absolutely stunning.”
Crane is talking about Alexander McQueen, the fashion house responsible for Catherine’s dress. Crane is watching the ceremony on a jumbo screen in Times Square.
But at 6 a.m. there aren’t that many people here, the ones that are have British accents, like Rena Opal.
“I thought there would be more, to be honest, I thought there would be more Americans here,” she said. “I think its more media caring then people actually caring.”
The wall to wall American news coverage was not of interest just around the corner, where Julio Negron and some of his friends are just here to get coffee.
“I’m just like I don’t care, tell me what Paris Hilton’s up to,” he said. “That’s what I watch you guys for, not to let me know that these two random people in another country are getting married.”
Negron and his friend Katya Sarevejo say it’s not just about them being English. They say they prefer their celebrities to come with a side of scandal.
I like seeing hot messes and disasters. Yeah this whole Cinderella Story is getting old now.
Even if they unmoved by the spectacle—they’ve hit on a truth about America’s relationship to celebrity culture. But Emory history professor Patrick Allit says for many American’s there is an additional x-factor when it comes to the royal family.
“Although the American’s obviously fought a revolutionary war to get away from the monarchy, there’s this lingering feeling that there’s something magical about it, and the Americans have been unable to banish the aura which surrounds it,” he said.
Allitt, who is a British subject, teaches American history, lives in America, and is married to an American. So he has a personal and professional perspective… HE says there is a nostalgia for the glamor of the monarchy in both the distant and the recent past.
“William the Bridegroom, is the living embodiment of Diana,” he said. “It couldn’t be more dramatically intense; you only have got to see him smile to remember what she looked like.
He says that William and Katherine’s wedding embodies a paradox, while the monarchy is ancient, there are two young people just beginning a life together. Brooklyn resident Alex Innes says if nothing else, its an excuse for a party.
“I think a lot of people of our age group back home are not at all interested in the monarchy or what it stands for but when it comes to a day like this its suddenly like yay lets celebrate.”
Innes is celebrating– underneath the Manhattan Bridge in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn to watch the wedding on a giant screen—the crowd perks up when its time for the ceremonial first kiss.
This wedding, like any other, is an excuse for the group gathered here to drink and dress up in finery—the hats are really something else.