Of royal spellings, pounds, hats ... and what they call a kiss

May 3 2011 - 3:00am


As I'm writing this, it is 2:45 in the a.m., early Friday morning.

I'm sitting in the dark, watching a flickering television screen, the sound barely audible so as not to disturb a house full of sleeping people.

And I am slightly ashamed.

Ashamed that I'm awake at this hour. Ashamed that I don't have better things to do right now (namely: sleep). But mostly, ashamed of the reason I'm up in the first place.

Watching the Royal Wedding.

Who knew? Apparently, I'm a closet Anglophile.

In honor of Friday's festivities, here are five things I learned from watching Prince William and Kate Middleton get hitched:

1. The royal family is in desperate need of a good proofreader. I don't mean to nitpick here, but have you seen the official royal wedding program? (I found it online at www.officialroyalwedding2011.org.) I suspect the queen will see to it that heads roll over this one. Not really sure who was responsible for hitting the spell-check key, but that person obviously didn't do his or her job.

Right there on the cover, in huge lettering, are the words "Official Programme."


2. Royal weddings ain't cheap. The royal family may have saved a bundle on cut-rate, misspelt programs, but the rest of the wedding ended up costing a small fortune. It's been estimated that the expenses of Friday's nuptials set back the queen and her royal subjects upward of 20 million pounds. Just how much are we talking about here? For those of you unfamiliar with the British monetary system, 20 million pounds works out to something like 9,100 metric tons.

Staggering, I know.

3. Speaking of pounds, Kate Middleton must have deceptively fat fingers. I mean, was it just me, or did it look like Prince William had a bit of a time getting the wedding ring on Kate's finger during the ceremony? For a moment there, I thought they were going to have to send best man Harry out to the Royal Larder for a dollop of Crisco.

4. Apparently, there are no mirrors -- or "looking glasses" as I suppose they call them over there -- in the whole of Great Britain. This is the only possible explanation for the clearly outlandish -- clownish, even -- hats worn by the majority of the female guests at the wedding. Because otherwise, these women would have been able to see what they looked like, and they would have immediately opted for something a bit less, well, goofy-looking on their heads. Like a lampshade. Or one of those inflatable kiddie wading pools.

As it was, many of them wore huge-brimmed hats that made them appear to be a part of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory's Very Large Array. Others sported tiny-but-ornate chapeaus -- perched at all sorts of weird angles atop their heads -- that gave them the look of an organ grinder's exceptionally well-dressed monkey. A few even looked like they'd been outfitted with one of those cones that veterinarians put on dogs to keep them from licking their stitches. Still others appeared to have collided with one of downtown London's many indigenous pigeons en route to the wedding.

And one woman -- I swear this is true -- looked like she was wearing one of those ball caps with the fake foam antlers on top.

To be perfectly honest, I expected one or two female guests to arrive in those hands-free beer-dispensing helmets. Considering some of the odd headgear at the wedding, it certainly wouldn't have been terribly out of line.

And you thought those tall, fuzzy black hats worn by the Queen's Guard were funny-looking ...

I never thought I'd ever be saying this, but next to this freak-show-on-parade, those Roots berets from the 2002 Olympics appear positively sensible and stylish by comparison.

5. It's official. The British have absolutely no passion. Something I did not know is that the happy couple does not kiss at the ceremony. There's no point at which the priest says "You may now kiss the bride." So he doesn't.

I had every intention of going back to bed after the happy couple emerged from Westminster Abbey, but all of the television commentators kept talking about "The Kiss" that was scheduled for an hour later on the balcony at Buckingham Palace. (Leave it to the British to schedule kisses.) So obviously, I had to stay up for that milestone.

Supposedly, there was actual wagering going on about how long The Kiss would last. Some said two seconds, some said eight. And then, when it finally happened, it was just a quick peck and it was over. Maybe half-a-second at most.

That was it? I waited up for THAT?

Oh, please. I've seen better lip-locks at an Arkansas family reunion.

Sheesh. I'm going back to bed.

Just for the record, Mark Saal says he knows the British have an odd way of spelling "program." Contact him at 801-625-4272 or msaal@standard.net.

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