It is not unusual to hear folks say they couldn’t care less about what’s happening in London on April 29.
The royals, after all, are hardly people to whom most of us can relate. They live in castles and hop from skiing in Gstaad to the beaches of Mustique. When not there, it's polo or rugby or a shooting party, followed by a stiff drink with Granny, the corgies in tow.
Of course, there’s a bit of water under the bridge between us and them. There's the small matter of the revolution, Mad King George and the "original" Tea Party and all that. But since the bloody and fierce-fought revolution and the severing of our British apron strings, we've come together in some of the biggest moments in history. From World War I, to Thatcher and Reagan vs. the Soviet Union, to the recent conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya, England has been our truest friend.
Our history is linked and, more importantly, our future may be linked as well, as our two great countries struggle to hold on to our identity. There are lessons to be learned, some of which may resonate when William, the future King of England, takes his bride, the sixth ‘Queen Catherine’ in British history.
FULL COVERAGE: Royal Wedding
Americans fall into two categories when it comes to British royalty: loyalists and rebels. Loyalists made Princess Diana the all-time best-selling 57-time cover girl of People magazine. When she made news, no one could beat her. The rebels could care less. They think the royal family is a bunch of do-nothing, ne'er do wells at best, and German throne-usurpers, with nasty family baggage at worst.
Part of the problem with the latter group is what I call, "The Big Gyp" -- otherwise known as the "Fairy-tale Wedding of Charles and Diana." It was a bit of a stretch from the beginning. Charles couldn't even pull off a convincing ‘engagement interview.’ When asked if he was "in love," he chortled something about, "whatever love is." Diana squirmed and smiled and the rest of the viewing public felt like they'd taken a sip of sour milk when they were expecting lemonade. It was not good.
But everyone got on board and it was an amazing spectacle. The pageantry, the gown, the flowers, the swell of grand music and heads of state. A smashing day, quickly followed by two beautiful boys. The Heir, and the Spare. Done. Perfect.
But then came the "The Big Gyp." Squidgy-gate, the polo player, the ex-girlfriend who simply would not go away. It got ugly like a train wreck that you couldn't help but watch. In the end, the Royal Family lost us. Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice? Not a chance. Even Fergie and Andrew, who seemed like fun, ended in toe-sucking adultery, attempted to sell access to the family and befriended a pedophile. Lovely, right?
So we are averse to being twice burned, by a great-looking young royal couple. But I urge you to let down your guard, and see if you can embrace April 29 for three reasons: 1) the future of western civilization 2) because this time it may be different 3) because we need a good fairy tale.
1. The Future of Western Civilization or a Good Piece of It, Anyway
The British Commonwealth, what was the "Empire," still includes one-third of the world. While the Royals do not govern, they still rule. The Prime Minister consults with the monarch and her input has meaning. David Cameron's face does not grace the currency handled by 33 countries. It's the face of Queen Elizabeth II they see. A good chunk of your child's history book is dedicated to this part of the story of the world. William and Kate will carry that on and try to win back diminishing global support.
It already seems to be working. On Prince Charles and Camilla’s recent trip to Canada, they were greeted by a mere 50 people.
When William was sent in Charles' place in the fall to New Zealand, 2,000 cheering well-wishers clamored for a peek at the young prince.
William recently returned, in the Queen's stead, to comfort New Zealanders, after the devastating earthquake in Christ Church. He was greeted by thousands, including a Maori tribe leader with whom he shared a custom of touching foreheads to show empathy. In his speech, he quoted his grandmother, who once told him that "grief is the price we pay for love." Certainly, William has known grief. It is hard to imagine Charles pulling off this event in quite the same way.
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron recently claimed that "multi-culturalism" has failed Great Britain. In a controversial speech, he called for a stronger sense of national identity, calling it the key to “achieving true cohesion,” by allowing people to say “I am a Muslim, I am a Hindu, I am a Christian, but I am a Londoner…too.” The U.K. has a glorious proud culture, that he argues has been sapped by those who've come there with no intention of sharing in it.
This young couple may be able to give England back some of that pride. A King and Queen can comfort the people in times of grief, and provide a nationalist camaraderie. That is the gift that royalty can give back.
William’s great grandparents, the Queen Mum and King George VI, were a source of inspiration to their country during the Battle of Britain. After Buckingham Palace was bombed, they went out and toured the devastated streets of London, an act that forged a great bond with the British people.
William and his brother, Harry, have both represented their country on the battlefield in Afghanistan. Harry, who’s had his share of bad press, served 77 days on the front lines in Afghanistan, as a tank commander. William is now an RAF, search-and-rescue helicopter pilot. They've earned the respect of their peers and their country in this regard.
2. This Time It’s Different or So We Think
Let’s face it, for a while there, it looked like Prince William might blow it. He met a great girl at college, became good friends with her, then fell in love with her. But while all his friends were getting married and his hair was thinning, he made her wait. And wait. In England, they started calling her "Waity Katy." There was a headline-making break-up. There were other girls. There was off to the military and back.
It started to look eerily similar to the way that another young lady was treated by another Prince. Charles had fallen for Camilla Parker when he was a young polo-playing bachelor and she was a fun, outdoorsy, party-with-royalty aristocrat. But by the time he got around to thinking about marriage, she had given up and married Mr. Bowles. One wonders how the whole course of things would've changed if he'd just married her the first time around.
But Kate waited. She knows William well. He knows her well. She's played her cards exactly right. She's never embarrassed the Royals. She is a stunning beauty. Like Diana she’s British enough to be proper, but daring enough to pull off the occasional sexy dress.
But unlike Diana, she is common. Not like us of course, but for this crowd -- she's very common. It's a real outrage to some of the high falutin' Brits. That's something the rebels among us can warm up to, right? She is the most common future queen of England, ever. Her ancestors were miners, bankers and laborers. Her parents met working on an commercial airplane. Can you imagine? But here's the thing, William likes hanging out with her family. They are nice. Her parents are married. She has a wild Uncle. William has a few wacky relatives, too. It all looks pretty promising.
3. It's Fun. And Boy, Do We Need a Little Fun
Who doesn't like a good wedding? Even the most jaded, can be moved to enjoy the hopefulness of a young couple. You'll have to get up early to watch it live, (On Fox News Channel, co-anchored by yours truly and Shepard Smith), but it will be worth it. If there is one thing these folks know how to do, it's throw a wedding. Ceremony and ritual are like a warm, fuzzy coat to the Brits. It feels good to put it on.
Kate will arrive a commoner in a car (okay it's a 1997 Rolls-Royce) and she will leave a princess, in an open carriage. William will likely wear his Royal Air Force uniform with the blue sash. She will wear something by McQueen or McCartney. The Queen will be there holding her purse and hoping that this time, no one will get ‘gypped.’ That this time, all of the Diana madness will have some meaning. That it was all for this. All to bring a King into the world, who would have just enough of Diana to be of the "Firm" and of her. A "People's Prince" to be proud of. For William, a child plagued by the tawdry, public dissolution of his parent’s marriage and then anguished by the grief of his mother's death.
On that day, April 29, if grief is the price we pay for love, then for a moment, let's all leave the grief behind. Let the love begin. On both sides of the pond.
Martha MacCallum is anchor of "America's Newsroom with Bill Hemmer and Martha MacCallum on Fox News Channel. She will anchor Fox News Channel's live coverage of the royal wedding with Shepard Smith on April 29.