“No Understanding of Dignity”: Reacting to the Condescending Tone of the Royal Wedding


“Was that meant to be a ‘breath of fresh air?’ It lacked taste. The Queen is the head of the Church of England. She doesn’t need a lecture at her grandson’s wedding.” the text came across my phone and as I read it I couldn’t help but nod my head.

I’m standing in the grocery store, running a few errands on an otherwise normal Saturday afternoon. A tired crease settles across my face. I was up at 5 AM to watch the royal wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and my heart has been heavy ever since. 

“It just left me with the distinct impression that Markle’s celebrants neither respected the royal family nor understood what respect they deserve.” the next text says. 

A few of my closest friends and I have been texting and calling each other about the royal wedding. We had all been so excited to witness what could have been our generation’s Grace Kelly – an American actress turned princess. A real-life fairytale. 

Hours later we are still trying to process the events. From the black, LGBT supporting Anglican preacher, Michael Curry, who bizarrely ranted about slavery, Martin Luther King and the antebellum south, to the gospel choir singing “Stand by Me” in the 500-year-old chapel. It left a bad taste in many peoples mouth.

Anne, not her real name, takes the royal family seriously. One of her parents was British and one was American and she was raised half of the time in the UK and the other half in the US. 

She was up at 6 AM and we exchanged pictures of our kids in their PJs and gulped down bites of toast. Our conversation gushed over the clothes and the chapel and Meghan’s dress which was modest and lovely. 

Then suddenly, as the black preacher began to speak neither of us had words anymore. Our conversation went silent until we gathered our thoughts. 

“I mean the queen stayed in London during the blitz as a child.” Anne texted me referring to the condescending lecture given by Curry. “‘We’re going to go over there and shake things up and show them it’s the 21st century.’ Meanwhile no respect for decade after decade of unflashy public service.”

My other friend, I will call her, Cathy, had a different viewpoint but also wasn’t thrilled with what she saw. As a black American as well as an actress herself, she has a unique view of Meghan’s marriage to the Prince. 

“Time for a novel of thoughts.” came her text to me around noon. 

“Learning a little more about the Bishop. Just headlines. Not reading articles…He’s one of the “progressive” types. No wonder she chose him.

I did like the message of love. It was nice he reached from Song of Songs, I rarely see or hear preachers lifting from that book and it’s one of my favorites. I found him oddly political, though. Now I see why.

He makes me think of something I read or heard a while back. I can’t remember who it was, but he said the reason the Church (I seem to remember him pointing out Black Churches specifically) is losing members is because it has been so focused on being “progressive” they’ve stopped telling the truth. So that is why there is this influx of lost women going to Church to find a husband instead of Jesus; Preachers who prey upon those women; homosexuals in leadership positions (even when the Black Church has been notoriously against that) divorced women ministering over singles; out of wedlock pregnancies amongst Church members; everyone lost because the pastor has no direction; pastors prostrating themselves, encouraging the focus to be on them instead of God; disrespectful children (who are really just hurt and angry) the list goes on.

The wedding was sweet, don’t get me wrong. It was what I was half expecting would happen and half hoping wouldn’t happen. It sort of reminded me of a wedding I wrote in one of my books about an interracial couple and their family’s attempt at incorporating both cultures into the wedding and it just coming off as awkward. 

And also that baby naming ceremony from the show Dharma and Greg and one of the religious leaders looking at the other and muttering “this kid’s gonna be so confused” or something like that. 

Yet I also see it as Harry welcoming part of his wife’s culture into his life without completely forgoing his own–which I hope for ALL interracial couples.

That said, I’m going to just smile and hope today was just a little paragraph in English tradition and history. Then the weddings coming up goes right back to time-honored English nobility. That stuffy, stiff, boring that everyone is laughing about. There is beauty and power in those “stiff upper lips.” It wasn’t broken. It is part of European culture, no matter how stuffy the “eternally awake” think it is. And it is just as beautiful and valuable as the Southern Black American culture they think “spiced it up.”

Seriously Ayla, I was waiting for someone to bring out a broom and would have snatched out the rest of my braids if they did!” (Emphasis added)

She ended the text with, “Feel free to quote me.” and many of her characteristic smiley emojis. 

Twitter and Gab reacted in it’s typical way. The white western world either felt defensive of British culture or liberally self-suicidal as it gushed over how much the black performances had “improved” it.

And therein lies the strange rub, in their rush to not be “racist” they are perfectly happy to insult the Queen, in her own church and happy to kill British culture in order to make room for theirs, which they ironically openly consider superior while they cry “racist” at any British person who objects.