"The World Cup for women," that's how one reporter labeled Prince William and Catherine Middleton’s wedding that took place on April 29.
I'd say not just for women. I think this past Friday should have been a day off not only in Britain, but for the whole world or at least where internet and other high speed media were available. With an estimated two billion viewers watching the wedding live, that exuberant fete could easily compete with the World Cup final.
My coworkers and I hardly worked on that day anyway. Crowded around the fastest computer with the largest screen, we couldn't take our eyes off the glowing, Grace Kelly-esque Kate and her handsome (never mind balding) prince, the perfect geometry of Westminster Abbey, the solemnity of the choir and the movie-like lineup of the entire function. Not to mention the fascinating parade of some rather peculiar hats the ceremony's guests were wearing. Some of us quietly shed a few tears, others recalled their own weddings, and the ones who have not yet taken the plunge fantasized what they'd want their dream wedding to be like. And granted, we were not alone. It seemed that the entire Moscow journalism community was just as taken by the event as we were at the Marie Claire magazine and several million enthusiastic onlookers alike who had flooded the Commonwealth capital's streets on Friday.
But why all this frenzy and euphoria anyway?
First of all, it was a magnificent show, a welcome distraction from the usual "breaking news" featuring reports on bloodshed of sorts, natural disasters and economic crises. It also proved how strong “anglomania” is still worldwide.
"It felt like watching an utterly romantic film except that it was reality. You so rarely get to watch this kind of stuff on television these days," Olga Pavlova, editor at the Forbes Russia magazine, said. Her colleagues who are predominantly male business reporters, she added, had glued themselves to the screens for the entire day, too, as if Will and Kate were their distant family members.
Secondly, I bet every girl watching the wedding had imagined herself in Kate Middleton's shoes, with a curious mix of envy and contentment. A former British Airways staffer's daughter, the bride was neither born nor raised to be part of royalty. She caught the eyes of the prince sporting a nearly transparent negligee at a student fashion show. Quite an unconventional move to start paving the way to Buckingham Palace, isn't it? But apparently they fell in love and stayed together despite being considered an obvious misalliance. They cohabited for a long time just like so many modern couples. She was patient, sporting perfect decorum even under the most intense spotlight. While waiting, Kate diligently took up lessons at Princess Finishing School getting mostly high marks. We all got to see her graduation last Friday - she made it with an impressive poise and self-awareness. (Some have noted that her overly excited face showed a bit too much of the desire to start bossing around her newly acquired regal ambiance ASAP.) Still, the newly-born Dutchess did such a good job that style critics suggest that even if her fresh blood and good spirit don't succeed in thrusting new energy into a somewhat stalled monarchy, her style choices will definitely affect the fashion industry — in a positive way. "Could April 29, 2011, mark the beginning of a whole new era of elegant restraint?" one fashion blogger wrote. Undoubtedly photogenic and understatedly fashionable, Prince William's young wife always looks cool, no matter how simple her outfit, including her beloved country casual stuff from high street shops. Unlike so many celebrities, she boasts a constantly improving taste and innate (or thoroughly practiced) grace, exuding confidence and sensibility at the same time. Doesn’t sound like a bad role model to me.
Finally, what inspired me was the emotion. Apart from being a world-class spectacle, the whole thing appeared real as much as it was formal. Both the groom and the bride seemed a bit taut when they said their vows. Either it was the agitation from all the attention or just the excitement in the wake of the Big Moment that any couple would experience, but it looked moving. And then there was the Bishop's of London's beautiful sermon which I consider one of the event's highlights. "In a sense every wedding is a royal wedding with the bride and the groom as king and queen of creation, making a new life together so that life can flow through them into the future," he said, stressing that that was a day of hope - "as every wedding day should be."
Actually, that's how I personally perceived that memorable celebration — a day of hope. A hope that every girl meets her prince some day, just not necessarily from royalty. That love could transcend the obstacles of not only class but any type of pressure, limitations and fears. That a traditional wedding, one of most significant and captivating of all existing rituals, won't become extinct in the near future. Finally, I think the Bishop had passed a really important message about marriage that's undergoing a much deeper crisis these days than Britain's monarchy. "Marriage is intended to be a way in which man and woman help each other to become what God meant each one to be, their deepest and truest selves," he said.
Sounds challenging, but still true.
Russia has always been referred to as feminine and Russian women have been one of the most popular stereotypes of this nation, both positive and negative. But is this an all-male fantasy? Here is a hip, modern, professional and increasingly globalized Russian woman looking at the trends around her, both about her gender and the society at large. She talks and lets other women talk.
Svetlana Kolchik, 33, is deputy editor-in-chief of the Russian edition of Marie Claire magazine. She holds degrees from the Moscow State University Journalism Department and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has worked for Argumenty i Fakty weekly in Moscow and USA Today in Washington, D.C., and contributed to RussiaProfile.org, Russian editions of Vogue, Forbes and other publications.