We welcome Emily Henry to The Displaced Nation as a guest blogger. In this post on the royal visit to California that just took place, Emily neatly combines two of our blog’s favorite topics: what Alice in Wonderland can teach us about the displaced life, and how to assess royalty from within a global framework. A US citizen with an English mother, Emily grew up in the UK. She has been living in California, first in LA and now Oakland, for about 5 years.
In Chapter 3 of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice experiences a “Caucus Race,” as the Dodo calls it. This race — run with the intention of getting all of the sopping wet animals dry — goes nowhere but round and round in a circle.
Despite making a ridiculous scene for themselves, the animals treat the affair with as much pomp and circumstance as they can muster. Although there is no clear winner,
“Everyone has won,” declares the Dodo, and “must be given prizes.”
A race with no rules and no winner, but drowned in ceremony and self-congratulation, might be somewhat similar to a royal tour. Watching the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge land in Los Angeles Friday afternoon made me wonder just how tiring it must be to run around in circles in another world — this time, California rather than Wonderland.
When I first heard that William and Kate would be visiting California, I imagined a sunny adventure for the new faces of the Royal Family. After all, I thought we had all agreed that these newlyweds were to be the modern, affectionate royal couple, not a re-enactment of the traditional frigid romance of yore.
They had proved themselves to be sufficiently “unstuffy” in Canada, so in California I imagined them sipping cocktails on the rooftop of the Standard Hotel, running hand-in-hand along the beach, or munching popcorn during a movie premier at the Chinese Theatre.
But then their schedule was released, and it turned out to be a Caucus Race. William and Kate must spend their few days in California running around in circles for the high and mighty: California Governor Jerry Brown was there to greet them from the plane, along with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. A bunch of flowers were presented. No doubt the weather was mentioned, as it would be — no doubt — in almost every instance of small talk throughout the rest of the trip.
Instead of cocktails and a rooftop bar, Friday night meant discussions of “innovation,” “communication” and “technology” at Variety’s Venture Capital and New Media Summit.
If these conceptual, “big picture” lectures weren’t enough to “dry” the couple out, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had an evening with businessmen and politicians to look forward to at the British Consular General’s house.
William, of course, is used to this sort of thing.
But much like Alice, who had arrived in Wonderland only to be forced to listen to a boring lecture on William the Conqueror given by a mouse, Kate must be stifling her yawns in disappointment.
However, she is doing an excellent job.
Perhaps what is most endearing about Kate Middleton is her ability to appease the pomp-loving self-congratulators while at the same time revealing the sense of humor and personality bubbling beneath her regal smile.
I knew I liked her from the moment she flashed a secret smile at William during their wedding as the couple shared a private joke. Amid the ridiculousness of her enormous wedding, the long-winded prayers, songs and sermons followed by more prayers, songs and sermons, Kate seemed to appreciate the funny side. She played her part beautifully, maintaining the airs of the occasion but accepting her wedding ring with an inward giggle.
Alice, too, accepts her self-given “prize” after the Caucus Race with the same sense of irony:
Alice thought the whole thing very absurd, but they all looked so grave that she did not dare to laugh; and, as she could not think of anything to say, she simply bowed, and took the thimble, looking as solemn as she could.
QUESTION: How did Kate and William’s first royal tour look from your displaced perspective — and do you agree with Emily that they, particularly Kate, managed it wonderfully?
Emily Henry is an associate local editor for Patch.com, reporting and editing for 11 hyper-local news Web sites in the East Bay area of California. She is currently running the Berkeley Patch site.
STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s post, when we return to our Pocahontas theme and consider some of the perils of cross-cultural marriage.
If you enjoyed this post, we invite you to subscribe for email delivery of The Displaced Nation. That way, you won’t miss a single issue. SPECIAL OFFER: New subscribers receive a FREE copy of “A Royally Displaced Tea.”