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The Royal Wedding: Suits actress brings audacity, conviction, compassion and relevance to the Crown

When Bishop Michael Curry, the African American head of the American Episcopal Church, went off script at the wedding of Meghan and Harry and launched into a riveting and chaotic monologue about love, he turned a Royal Wedding into the greatest theatrical moment on live TV so far this century.

All those lefty republicans who studiously avoided the television on Saturday night in outrage at the cost, or what it might infer about their politics or progressiveness, missed a stupendous live-action entertainment that rivalled a great sporting finale or interplanetary rocket launch, but with the additional gravitas of profound cultural change.

Initial shock gradually segued into the thrill of being at the mercy of the moment, relevant protocols and schedules hijacked and made irrelevant.

Royalty, with its precise protocol, has always been done best by the Brits. The horses, the carriages, the military, the extraordinary ecclesiastical architecture and music, the choirs and command of the spoken word, the stately vocal rhythms of the English tongue refusing to embellish the exquisite language of literature or the Bible which need no embellishment. British Royal events have always mastered a perfect balance between extravagance and restraint, each advertising the magnificence of the other.

And then along came an African American preacher invoking Martin Luther King, his booming voice riding the rhythmic waves of evangelism and soul, filling the parapets of St Georges Chapel in Windsor with a vocabulary that included fire, slavery and Instagram, and a slow-combustion momentum that harnessed a rousing and charismatic repetition:

“Someone once said that Jesus began most revolutionary movement in all of human history, a movement grounded in the unconditional love of god for the world. And a movement mandating people to live that love. And in so doing, to change not only their lives but the very life of the world itself. I’m talking about some power, real power, power to change the world.”

It was mind-blowing, extraordinary and moving. From a stage-managerial point of view, it was hard to know if the rave was a response to stage-fright or opportunism. Initial shock gradually segued into the thrill of being at the mercy of the moment, relevant protocols and schedules hijacked and made irrelevant, and then into hilarity as the pompous Royals (and sour, ageing court-jester Elton John) tittered, rolled their eyes or sat with expressions of stunned disbelief.

The Bishop was either not concerned by the chill, or was understandably so high on his own vibe that he did not feel it. And his stoicism in the face of his audience – almost entirely dressed in hideous confections of synthetic peach or violet– turned the address into a conquest.

Ms Markle elegantly exploited the architecture of love to make her mark rather than the traditional enraged weapons of ideological change.

He was not giving up, backing off or shying away from the moment, or his role in defining it. His mesmeric use of the word love – “the energy of love”, “the mighty hands of love”, “the dynamic power of love”, came to persuade us that Hallelejuh! – love is indeed “the only way” and this young couple, despite being saddled by love’s nemeses –privilege and celebrity – were indeed its exemplars.

There sat Harry, the red-headed misfit, the little boy who lost his mother, the charmer, the scamp and his fabulous twinkly-eyed biracial lover, a feisty beauty who clearly insisted on making the ceremony (and presumably the marriage) a genuine merging of two souls and their collective cultural history. A gospel choir sang an exquisite Stand By Me and brilliant black musicians shared the soaring acoustical heights of the church.

This was a one-time heretical hit parade finding a thoroughly modern benediction: American, divorced, Black, fearless and non-traditional embraced within the cocoon of British nobility. In having her own heritage so clearly embedded in the service, Ms Markle was elegantly exploiting the architecture of love to make her mark rather than the traditional enraged weapons of ideological change. The self-declared feminist was wearing her white gown and borrowed tiara, curtseying to the monarch, while all around her centuries of racism, tradition and anachronism trembled. How modern and how joyful.

Curry’s flouting of technical etiquette was the moment that history will note as the unlikely rescue of the Windsors from death by irrelevance.

The Queen, unlike the lesser Royals, did not reveal any scepticism with regards Curry’s oration. She is too well-mannered and too wise, wise enough to understand that women like Markle are the future of the survival of the Royals. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Queen understood very well that the silly tag-alongs like Beatrice and Eugenie and Zara Phillips are the irrelevant, pedestrian gate-crashers who somehow lucked out despite no discernible purpose, while the biracial Suits actress and one-time game-show hostess was bringing audacity, conviction, compassion and relevance to the crown.

Curry’s flouting of technical etiquette – his lack of concern regarding time allowances, or mimicking the controlled cadences of the British clergy – were cause enough for surprise and perhaps displeasure (we can only speculate). But the intemperate lyrical poetry of his oration was, more than the kiss on the steps between a white British soldier and prince and a divorced Black American actress, the moment that history will note as the unlikely rescue of the Windsors from death by irrelevance.

Image: Meghan Markle and her mother pictured last year, well before the weekend’s season finale

17 responses to “The Royal Wedding: Suits actress brings audacity, conviction, compassion and relevance to the Crown

  1. What could have been an interesting 5 minute sermon, turned into an opportunistic and boring rant. What was illuminating about the sermon? Nothing. Just a self indulgent bishop raving on interminably. If he had been white would everyone have commended him….please. Good luck to Harry and Meghan. I hope their marriage is a huge success. She is a lovely young woman….but, she has married into a family steeped in tradition….one that often delights and frustrates us, so those who represent her should act with decorum

  2. As Andrew Bolt wrote ” the Beatles did the same thing far more succinctly in three and a half minutes with their song ‘All you need is love’ instead of banging on for an interminable 14 plus minutes. It became excruciatingly embarrassing, rekindling all sorts of politically incorrect thoughts.

    I fully agree with John Saint-Smith regarding your sneering commentary – your sanctimonious, smart-arse commentary would have been far improved if it had remained unsaid.

  3. So, which stanza of the Apostle Paul’s commentary on love from his First Letter to the Christians of the ancient Corinthian Church is relevant to the so-called “royals” who inhabit from inheritance the system of British monarchy, not to mention those who benefit from this mediaeval charade?

  4. What we saw was a nervous groom. Nervous because he knew what his bride had set in train. A Queen who face said she was not happy. Wedding guests that looked confused, only a few woke up to what was going on. Most well outside their comfort zone.

    A bride who showed the establishment & the world she was proud of her heritage. No way would she be caving in. Her culture played a powerful role in her wedding.

    This woman is brave enough to use royalty for her aims not be used by it.

    Good on her.

  5. Actually, the Reverend lost the script – literally – repeating what had been a half-way decent ‘evangelical rant’ first time through. More perceptive observers, some of whom were sitting in the audience, clearly noticed his embarrassing faux pas.
    Sneering anti-liberal commentary is not your strong suit.

  6. I caught the ceremony. Had glanced down at my book when US Anglican Bishop Curry (well, they say Episcopalian in the US) invited by the Archbishop of Canterbury actually) began to speak – did not glance up until something about the outspoken nature of his presentation woke me up. Such a contrast to the otherwise totally scripted nature of British “ceremony” – the cadences were also awakening the fundamentalist US protestantism of my childhood and adolescence – ex tempore – from the heart – preaching. Well … Bishop Curry had his iPad in front of him – he HAD written his speech/sermon – and only 14 minutes in duration – but given the earlier parts seemed far longer – sort of guiding him – but no more. I smiled. I laughed in fact. Not unkindly – but at the bizarre contrasts his presence was highlighting! The beautiful choir – amazing hair – spiritual rendition of Stand By Me – a female Anglican priest – a dignitary from the Greek Orthodox Church – and other notable cello players and singers and guests. It was a long way beyond caricature or criticism – there were lessons in the event, in the day – far beyond the family/families at its centre. One wishes the couple at the heart the very best.

  7. Everyone missed, who was the last Priest that spoke, the last guy in black with a funny looking black hat. What was he doing there

  8. Fabulous theatre-a young couple with difficult backgrounds in love getting married and trampling conventions with pomp and ceremony.They gave a great performance putting a light on the hill.

  9. For Gods sake ( literally :-) there is nothing radical about quoting Paul’s letter to the Corinthians at a , wedding.

    The full text of Paul’s letter sums the heart of Christs message and it is as powerful as ever

    If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

    If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

    If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

    Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
    It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
    Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
    It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

    Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

    For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.
    When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
    For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

    And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

      1. Indeed, but Paul’s message (as quoted) says nothing about the supernatural deity either.

        I was similarly entertained by the theatre in the gorgeous 1000 year old church; the Episcopal black minister with his electronic notes going on far too long in what was probably a memorized series of sermons prompted by the dot points from Steve Jobs iPad (an invention of one of the chosen people). All we needed was Whoopee to fly in on a sunbeam to get the whole crowd bopping.

        Charles looking portly and florid from too many single malts; Phil looking on as if he was in Disneyland; the Queen not pictured at all but struggling for a half smile in a few glimpses; Oprah in form fitting pastel carrying some condition (she will need a couple of runs to get a placing in the 2.30 at Newmarket); the Clooneys examining the decor and George slowly realizing that he was not on a Hollywood set but that the woodwork and leadlight and magnificent stone fan vaulting was the real thing.

        Mr and Mr E. John and the tattooed soccer player and his blow up doll were similarly baffled by the setting, with Posh having her spray on grimace so fixed by the super strong body spray that her nipples were still cold at noon on a sunny day…..

        Ahhh and for Ms Markle.

        She is a lot smarter that Andrew’s round-eyed scrubbers, and did her dignified bi-racial mum proud. That makes Meagan quarter-racial CC Ford, so 3/4ths of Meagan’s smarts and elegance must be from her white ancestors.

        Not that we should be so crude as to mention race in such a context, but you highlight the point of Ms Markle being a Black American as if that was the only part of her ancestry worth mentioning (what about her white Emmy Award winning Dad?).

        Surely the fact that Black ancestry was celebrated in over-full measure in the ceremony was testament to the power of the British Monarchy to bow to merit, talent and popular sentiment while harnessing those powers for relevance and survival.

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