Tuesday, May 3, 2011
A Royal Inspiration
An estimated two billion people were expected to see the royal wedding, April 29, 2011. Some have questioned those figures (pbs.com). But maybe they are not so far off if you factor in the record breaking online audience (pcmag.com). It was quite a show! A real life fairy tale played out on the world stage as a commoner, Kate Middleton, married a prince, Prince William, second in-line to the British throne.
In the preceding days and after, much has been written and commented about this wedding. Some have made a profit from it. Some were most fascinated and watched to vicariously experience a royal event. Some have "dissed" the wedding with snarkiness. Who cares about an anachronistic monarchy? Wasn't it thirty years ago that Prince William's father, Prince Charles, married Lady Diana Spencer - only this fairy tale ended in disillusion and tragedy?
As Americans, should we care about the royals and Great Britain? (Especially considering our history with a not-so-well-liked monarch, King George III.)
(In my humble opinion.)
Great Britain has been one of the best American allies. What is good for Great Britain is good for the United States. Frankly, I'm still inspired by their great leaders - William Wilberforce and William Pitt, the younger (whose story of abolishing slavery is told in Amazing Grace (2006) ), Sir Winston Churchill during World War II, and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher during the Cold War.
This May 8, we come up to the 66th anniversary of VE day, Victory in Europe (life.com), the beginning of the end of World War II. And recently, in theaters was the story of an inspirational British monarch, King George VI - The King's Speech (2010) - who reigned during this time.
Prince William's great grandfather, the second son of George V, had a speech impediment, which he worked hard to overcome. He unexpectedly ascended to the throne when his older brother, Edward VIII, abdicated. The climax and most moving scene came when the King gave his first wartime speech to his subjects as they entered into World War II in September of 1939. (Below is the real speech from George VI taken from americanrhetoric.com which also has its transcript.)
During those dark days, Londoners in particular felt the fury of Hitler's Luftwaffe - as the capital city was bombed mercilessly to demoralize the population in the terror known as the London Blitz. King George VI, his wife Queen Elizabeth, and the princesses (Elizabeth and Margaret) stayed in the Buckingham Palace (which was also bombed) and chose not to flee to safer environs of the countryside where many of the kingdom's children were urged to go.
The King and Queen walked through London during the Blitz (bridgemanart.com). The future Queen Elizabeth II also put on the uniform and got her hands dirty during the war. She served as a driver and mechanic as shown here in this Life photo.
So why should I care about the British Royal family and their recent wedding?
Much like our presidents, (one of the best in recent times was Ronald Reagan, in my humble opinion), they can inspire people to do not only extraordinary things, but most important - the right thing.
King George VI's speeches to his people during the Second World War were backed up by his actions. He stood with his people as they experienced attacks by the enemy on native soil. The most intense were from September 1940 to May 1941, the first attacks lasting for 57 consecutive days. The King gave the people the courage to stand up to Hitler and his "supermen." And ultimately, the people of Great Britain and their allies did prevail.
My thoughts and prayers are that Prince William follow the steps of his great grandfather. George VI's words are still relevant today in the War on Terror and our uncertain times as they were during the events leading up to World War Two.
" There may be dark days ahead, and war can no longer be confined to the battlefield. But we can only do the right as we see the right, and reverently commit our cause to God.
"If one and all we keep resolutely faithful to it, ready for whateverer service or sacrifice it may demand, then, with God's help, we shall prevail."
George VI - September 3, 1939
This coming National Day of Prayer on May 5, 2011 is held at a time which may portend that dark day are ahead. May our leaders point (as George VI) that our help is in God and that we reverently commit our cause to Him. And with God's help we shall prevail.
Photo from Wikipedia: The royal family on the balcony