The royal wedding is over -- and every anchor you can name was there
The bride didn't show up for the royal wedding in a meat dress (she wore Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen) or a levitating egg (she went with the Rolls). A half-dozen channels provided coverage, but Ricky Gervais did not host on any of them (although David Beckham appeared to have borrowed his haircut.) Elton John did not sing, save the requisite hymns, and no one thought to demand Prince William's long-form birth certificate. The music was amazing, the little bridesmaids and footman were adorable and well-behaved, no vows or names were mangled, nothing fell or ripped or burst inexplicably into tears or flame.
In other words, the marriage ceremony of Britain's Prince William and Catherine Middleton, now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, occurred precisely as planned, defying leaden London skies and a cynical modern age to provide a glimpse of the solemn and brilliant pageantry now mostly consigned to myth, and the inexplicable faith we apparently still have in love and marriage.
And for the 15 minutes it took for the bride to enter the church and the two attractive young people to exchange their vows, it was lovely and touching, and when they departed in their open carriage with all the queen's horses and all the queen's men in attendance, it was spectacular. But mostly the hoopla was a lesson in just how many hours some of the highest-paid television journalists in the world can spend discussing a bridal dress they have not seen while watching people they do not know mill about in Westminster Abbey wearing in large hats.
Far too many.
TV coverage of the royal wedding started at 11 p.m. PDT on Fox, which carried Sky News for two hours before going live; the other networks, including CNN and MSNBC, joined in around midnight. This meant that the three hours before the ceremony actually started had to be filled with something, and that something turned out to be, not surprisingly, a mash-up of Oscar coverage, the Tournament of Roses Parade and sheer desperation.
Matt Lauer offered up fast facts about Westminster Abbey like Bob Eubanks rattling off the rose-petal and celery seed count of this next float, while BBC America, as if trying to prove it is not stuffy no matter what you've heard, read from tweets and Facebook postings before introducing irrepressible historian Simon Schama. On ABC, Barbara Walters wondered whether or not "we" could call William's bride a princess even though she is technically a duchess, with Diane Sawyer agreeing that yes, of course "we" could.
Even CNN's Anderson Cooper conceded to monarchy lover Piers Morgan that it was "cool" to see the queen in person. "I've spent most of my life trying to escape this sort of thing," he added, which raises the question: What sort of thing? Parades? Queens? Weddings?
Occasionally, someone attempted to inject some non-dress-related tension to the proceedings -- Katie Couric (who brought the collective salaries of American anchors speculating about the nature of Middleton's dress to more than the cost of the wedding, and possibly the GNP of Britain) opened the CBS coverage with a long clip of Prince Charles' and Diana Spencer's wedding day, which may not have been the right note, considering the outcome. Noise was made about the fact that John Major was the only former prime minister at the ceremony -- Margaret Thatcher was too ill, and neither Tony Blair nor Gordon Brown are knights of the realm -- and that Sarah Ferguson had not been invited when the rest of her family had, but no one really cared about the politicos or expected Fergie to be anywhere near the wedding.
Even Al Roker's reminder that "our thoughts and prayers are with our friends in the South" fell flat; back on the parade route, Lauer and Meredith Vieira made sympathetic noises and then Lauer quickly pointed out where the volleyball competition would be held during the 2012 Summer Olympics.
On Friday, the princes were the first to move, making their way to the Abbey, slowly followed by the rest of the wedding party, culminating with the queen, resplendent in marigold and then, at long last but dead on time, the dress, inhabited by a young woman who appeared not just surprisingly calm but actually happy.
Indeed, the best part of the whole thing may have been the quick and easy smiles the about-to-be Duchess of Cambridge exchanged with her groom and his brother as she took her place at the altar. William and Kate certainly seem to like each other, so maybe this one will stick. And neither the dress, nor the pomp and circumstance, will have anything to do with it.
-- Mary McNamara
Top photo: Media gathered Friday facing Buckingham Palace to photograph the royal couple. Credit: Chris Ison / WPA Pool/Getty Images
Bottom photo: The newlyweds ride by carriage to Buckingham Palace. Credit: Gero Breloer / Associated Press