First a confession à propos the Royal Wedding: I don’t like pomp and circumstance – and I don’t just mean the piece by Elgar.
This phobia has two explanations, one my own, the other my wife’s.
Mine is predictably kinder. Since I believe that our God-given free will makes each of us sovereign and unique, it pains me to see multitudes ready to abandon their individuality and join a loudly braying herd. This, I feel, wastes the advantage of being human.
My wife, on the other hand, insists that as a consummate egotist I simply can’t stand any event in which I’m not the centre of attention.
To prove her wrong, I declined the invitation to ride next to Harry and Meghan in the wedding limousine.
Such modesty (uncharacteristic, according to Penelope) is mainly caused by consideration for the feelings of the young couple. After all, they would be upset to hear the multitudes ask one another who are those people in the car with Alex Boot.
Also, this particular event evokes painful memories of having missed, inadvertently, my son’s wedding back in the nineties. I genuinely was unable to attend, which I believe put the jinx in: the marriage ended in divorce a few years ago.
To start off on the right foot, any wedding ceremony – private or public – should include, besides bride and groom, best man, bridesmaid and priest, a full complement of the parents still living.
When a father isn’t there, the ceremony misses an essential element – no matter how many millions scream themselves hoarse and wave flags all along the route of the wedding cortege.
That’s why I still feel sorry about having been unable to attend my son’s wedding all those years ago, even though I was invited. Why, in an odd sort of way I even blame myself for the subsequent divorce, albeit 20 years later.
Not that it makes matters any better, I felt rotten about it then and for years thereafter. In a way I still do. That’s why I sympathise with the feelings of another man who, though like me far from being a perfect father, is a father nonetheless.
For him his child’s wedding is a step towards self-perpetuation through generations to come, which is a momentous event in any man’s life.
That’s why seeing his child getting married without him in attendance must be sheer torture. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he dropped a tear into his drink. Alas, circumstances conspired to keep him away from his child’s new beginning in life.
His sadness is probably matched by that of the young couple, who know that something vital is missing from the festivities – something that no jubilant crowds could possibly replace.
And, to make matters even worse, Meghan’s father won’t be there either.