September 01, 2016



Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Brits are big on weddings, and Pippa is getting hitched sometime this autumn, or maybe later on, when the English weather is at its best. If any Takimag readers are not familiar with Pippa, she’s the sister of the commoner who is married to Prince William”€”son of Prince Charles”€”who will one day be King of England. That fact alone makes the upcoming wedding ceremony a tabloid dream, and no one does it better than Brit tabloids.

Pippa Middleton is engaged to a hedge-fund manager”€”naturally”€”James Matthews, and he seems a good sort, not too greedy like some of ours. The younger sister of the Duchess of Cambridge now faces the critical eye of the entire country, snobbery being the oxygen that fuels British life in general, and the upper classes in particular.

“€œHooray, time for a drink, as our English cousins like to say.”€

The first thing that was reported about the bridegroom was his vast wealth”€”exaggerated, as usual, by the media in order to get the envious types up and at “€™em. It sells newspapers and concentrates the minds of those who would rather protest about the inequities of wealth than wish the happy couple a long life. What has also been reported but mostly ignored by the jealous is the fact that the bridegroom’s father started up the greasy pole as a coal miner, as did the bride’s maternal grandfather. Eventually he became a hotel owner”€”not exactly a rags-to-riches ascent, but nevertheless, he’s a millionaire.

Now, as everyone knows, millionaires are at present a dime a dozen, with Hillary and Bill leading the pack of those who have never held a proper job and yet have raked in hundreds of millions by speaking to students and Wall Street types. Matthews senior and Middleton senior both started very poor and through hard work have become rich. A marriage to the House of Windsor has also helped, and now the two families of similar background will be united. Hooray, time for a drink, as our English cousins like to say.

Over on this side, a rags-to-riches story is celebrated like no other. It is the basis of American capitalism, the difference between a European who sees a Ferrari and wants the government to confiscate it, and an American who tells himself one day he will purchase the exact same automobile. Whereas Americans look at Downton Abbey as a costume drama and revel in its antiquated snobbishness, the Brits see it as social commentary, and nothing brings out their inner Dowager Countess of Grantham more than a social faux pas. I sat next to the creator of the show once at a private St. James”€™ club to which I belong. Lord Fellowes, as he has now become, could not have been friendlier, but he was as snobby as they come. He told me that he was very proud that his wife was lady-in-waiting to Princess Michael of Kent, a real hustler and phony, so I asked him if he was bragging or complaining. It ended our brief and pleasant chat.

Celebrity nuptials are far too easy prey for the gimlet-eyed. And nothing escapes the gimlet-eyed aristocracy, especially when a coal miner’s son marries a coal miner’s granddaughter who has married into British royalty. Everything will be examined as if a murder hinged on the details: the invitations, the wedding list, the hymns to be sung, the hen weekend in some Gulf hellhole, the crystals, and the dance routine following the ceremony. In fact, while poring over these and other smaller details, people will even stop discussing the weather. Or Brexit. Even football. Thank God for Pippa and her hubby.


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