Saturday, 30 April 2011
Pomp and Circumstance
However, much of the ceremonial dates from pre-literate times, and had a specific purpose.
If there would be no written record of an event, or none that would be easily accessible, it was important that it was witnessed by as many people as possible, whether it was a coronation, a wedding, or a legal transaction such as a transfer of land.
Not all royal weddings have been public, however. It is not certain when and where Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn.
Edward Hyde, later Earl of Clarendon, was so mortified by her presumption in marrying so far above her station (and so concerned that his enemies would believe that he had engineered the marriage) that he said
‘He would turn her out of the house, as a strumpet, to shift for herself, and would never see her again … he had much rather that his daughter should be the duke’s whore than his wife.’
The whole force moved north and just over a week later another court was held at Nottingham. The intention must have been to make the Scots aware that a powerful force was approaching.
Keeping a lavish household with feasting and almsgiving was a way of displaying wealth and attracting followers. When carried to excess by a nobleman, it could be seen as a challenge to the king’s authority. In 1468 the Earl of Warwick
‘Was always held in great favour by the commons of this land because of the exceedingly great household which he kept daily in every region wherever he stayed or passed the night. And when he came to London he held such a household that six oxen were eaten at a breakfast and every tavern was full of his meat; for anybody who had any acquaintance in his household could have as much boiled and roast meat as he could carry on a long dagger.’
Ultimately it did the earl no good, of course; he was killed at the Battle of Barnet in 1471.
Now, who is invited to major events and who is not can still carry some significance. There is still protocol governing precedence, dress and conduct. But in general, royal occasions are family events shared with the nation and Commonwealth. Nowadays, royal and ceremonial occasions are an opportunity for some pageantry and public celebration.