British can still stage a great show

Catherine Middleton and Prince William kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. Photo by Rex Features
Catherine Middleton and Prince William kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. Photo by Rex Features

THERE’S nothing like a wedding to lift the spirits and put a smile on everyone’s faces.

Of course, the Royal nuptials were nothing like a wedding many of us are likely to have attended but because of the wall to wall, dusk ‘til dawn television coverage, it did seem as though we were part of William and Kate’s (now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) happy day.

There were times when it was doubted whether the public would celebrate the festivities with the gusto with which we had supported past Royal events. One worry was that only a handful of people nation-wide had applied to hold a street party.

As it turned out, all this meant of course was that folks were not applying for road closures. Instead, they managed to hold plenty of parties without the need to do so.

Parties involving families, friends and neighbours were being held the length and breadth of the land and whole areas turned red, white and blue in unashamed patriotism.

London itself of course - especially the wedding procession route - was a sea of Union flag-waving dedicated, Royalists and the capitals parks became huge party venues with confetti canons and giant TV screens capturing every moment of the day.

And you have to admit, didn’t you feel just the tiniest bit excited waiting for the appearance of Catherine and the first glimpse of that dress (a triumph, I thought personally) and couldn’t you just feel a little lump in your throat as she walked the length of Westminster Abbey’s sweeping aisle, tightly holding onto her proud dad’s hand?

The celebratory mood of the day seemed to banish (albeit temporarily) the ethos of gloom and doom that now seems to have seeped into our daily lives.

A struggling economy, rising living costs, students leaving university shrouded in debt and unable to find jobs, a lack of job security for those of us lucky enough to be in employment. All of this is now worryingly part of our culture. Heck, it was time to party. A day of celebration was long overdue.

And the Royal Wedding with all its gaiety and giddiness provided an escape from everyday blues.

And of course one thing it did highlight was how good this country is at putting on a show. When it comes to pomp and pageantry, no-one does it better than Britain. We are the theatre for historic tradition - and what’s more we should be proud of it.

As reporters talked to those who had been camped on the streets (some for several days) in order to get a better view of the wedding, there were voices not just of these shores, but those from America, Canada, Australia - all corners of the globe. These people had flown thousands of miles and spent a considerable chunk of their earnings on air fares just to come to Great Britain and witness this great event. Doesn’t that tell us something? Doesn’t it say that this country has a lot to be proud of?

This week sees the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain, which back in 1951 was devised as “a tonic for the nation” and a newsreel of the time describing it as “an inexplicable lift to the heart.”

Events will run all summer to mark the anniversary but maybe it’s time to think about another festival? After all, as Friday’s celebrations showed us, it doesn’t take much to put a smile back our faces and goodness knows it’s something we’re all in need of.