A royal pain

Apparently there’s a big wedding happening this weekend.

And, apparently, we’re supposed to care about it.

The impending April 29 nuptials between Prince William and Kate Middleton have sparked a media frenzy that’s extended across the pond from the United Kingdom to the United States.

But does anyone really care?

Perhaps the bigger, better question is, why?

Why does anyone care about two wealthy people and their decision to wed in a multimillion-dollar ceremony that’s expected to be watched by 2 billion people worldwide?

Two. Billion. People.

In England, of course, there’s a certain faction that lives for this sort of thing: the royal watchers who revere Queen Elizabeth II, the fans who breathlessly waited for Wills to finally propose to Waity Katy, the devotees who snap up every royal-inspired trinket and doodad—$80 William and Kate bobbleheads, anyone?

The United States has its fair share of royal anglophiles, of course. William and Kate, a sappy flick about the couple, recently aired on the Lifetime network (and is already available on DVD, of course); the tabloids are practically in heat over the spectacle; and the 24-hour cable channels are breathlessly gearing up for a marathon of full-throttle coverage.

All this for a royal fairy-tale display of grotesque excess—one British newspapers estimate could cost upwards of 50 million pounds.

On one hand, I get it—I really do. I was 11 when Prince Charles wed Lady Diana and excitedly woke up at 3 a.m. on the morning of their wedding to watch the event live on TV. I’d already read an unauthorized biography on Diana Spencer and couldn’t wait to witness the fairy-tale procession.

But that’s the thing—I was 11, still played with Barbie dolls and had more than a passing interest in princes, castles and tiaras.

As I got older, however, my interest in the royal family and the pretend magic they exuded faded, and by the time Prince Andrew wed Sarah Ferguson in 1986, I was a little more jaded.

That year I taped the event and, later in the day when I finally watched, found the whole spectacle oddly boring.

Years later as both royal couples divorced amid rumors of infidelity, I realized that their celebrity was little more than an empty vessel for feckless and shallow behavior.

Of course, Princess Diana ultimately tried to find some meaning in her life through charity work, and I was genuinely sad when she died. It’s been said, too, that her sons William and Harry have tried to honor her legacy through public service.

Still, I wonder why, to this day, we indulge in such a revered fascination for a royal family that wields no real power.

I wonder even as we struggle to endure a recession—lost jobs, a decimated housing market and the increasingly rising cost of living—why we glorify their excessive spending habits.

I wonder why the British, who will foot a hefty portion of that bill, don’t storm the palace in revolt.

Perhaps it’s a just a small price to pay for such a big show—a fleeting glimpse into the kind of world where a girl owns more than a dozen diamond-encrusted tiaras and is attended to by a coterie of ladies-in-waiting.

Perhaps it’s just a small price to pay for a fleeting reprieve from the kind of pop-culture dreck we must normally endure: a hookers-and-vomit-encrusted world in which the likes of Charlie Sheen and Snooki commandeer the spotlight with artless aplomb.

Really, maybe we should be grateful for this touch of glamour and elegance.

And yet I’m not.

This time around, I won’t be getting up at 4 a.m., I won’t be setting the DVR and I won’t be admiring such an empty, glittering vessel of fairy-tale gluttony.