That Wedding

“She’s such an inspiration.  She’s class.”  That’s how 17-year-old Bianca, in her gold-lamé miniskirt, summed up Kate Middleton, 90 minutes before the British royal wedding.  Like many others, Bianca was positioned alongside the Mall in central London, but unlike most she had the advantage of a view.  She was being carried on the shoulders of her long-suffering boyfriend, Luke, who was dressed as if auditioning for a role in Brideshead Revisited.  Gazing graciously down upon me, she continued, “She’s so reachable.  She’s made me want to help people more.”

We have been here before, of course, most notably on the summer day 30 years ago when the Prince of Wales went down the aisle at St. Paul’s Cathedral with Lady Diana Spencer.  And it wasn’t just the gray skies and cheering crowds waving their miniature Union Jacks who stirred memories of the earlier occasion.  Even more than in 2011, the British people entered 1981 in a state of abysmal economic gloom.  Over the previous three years, private-sector company profits had plummeted 22 percent, manufacturing output had fallen by 15 percent, and unemployment had almost doubled—the biggest leap since the Great Depression.  One can argue today about the nation’s ultimate debt to Margaret Thatcher, but her austerity measures after taking power in 1979—slashing the...

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