The media has been buzzing over the past 2 weeks about the engagement of Prince William of Wales and Miss Catherine Middleton: Where will the wedding be? Who will design the dress? Does the Queen approve?
What makes this wedding all the more special is the fact that Prince William is the second heir to the throne after his father Prince Charles of Wales. Therefore, many see him as the future King and Catherine Middleton as the future Queen.
How can Americans put this in perspective? The thought of a royal wedding seems foreign these days to most Americans. Even though most of the world’s superpowers have turned to a democratic form of government, including the United Kingdom, the British still hold a special place in their heart for the monarchy.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a constitutional monarchy. Therefore, while they function as a democracy, similar to the one we have here in the United States, the monarchy is still recognized as the head of state (the Prime Minister is recognized as the head of government). However, the monarchy has little influence or power over the Parliament. Instead, the monarchy performs ceremonial functions and acts a representative of the United Kingdom.
Even with our differences though, the United States and the United Kingdom are very similar. The United States common law legal system is based on English common law. Furthermore, although a royal wedding might seem dated to the American public, many of our celebrity weddings are covered with as much pomp and circumstance as a royal wedding.
One cannot dispute though that this wedding will be different than any other one we have seen before. Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding happened before the onset of Facebook, Twitter, and Wikis. Furthermore, it is hard to think of many American celebrity weddings that can boast a guest list that is rumored to include President Barack Obama, Sir Elton John, and David Beckham. My advice is to tune in to the wedding at Westminster Abbey on April 29th, 2011 to see what all of the fuss is about.
Interested in learning more about the British Monarchy? Go to the following link.
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