Imagine, if you will, a parallel reality in which Charles and Diana are still together, and instead of Prince William and Prince Harry we have Princess Alexandra and Princess Eleanor. Imagine further that Princess Alexandra has set a wedding date for 2015, where she will be marrying Grace in a civil wedding. How will the country react to this royal lesbian wedding? How will the church react? After all, Alexandra is heir to the throne, and as Queen of England will be the supreme governor of the Church of England. Will they be able to get the Church’s blessing?
As we all know, the Church isn’t terribly fond of the idea of gay and lesbian weddings; and there are a lot of otherwise reasonable people who react very negatively to any transgression of traditional heterosexuality…
V.T. Davy’s A Very Civil Wedding, published November 2013, is a well written, and very intelligently written, story that examines the consequences of the heir to the British throne pursuing a same-sex marriage.
The story is written primarily through newspaper reports, transcripts of TV and radio interviews and news programmes, and transcripts of parliament debates and Synod debates. Social media plays a large role too, with blogs and comments on blogs, and conversations over Skype and Twitter. On the one hand, this is quite brilliantly written and very well researched, and allows for carefully considered arguments for and against same-sex marriage to be woven into the story. On the other hand, it creates emotional distance from the key characters at the heart of the story. In many ways, this book is primarily a study of religious attitudes to same-sex marriage and an attempt to show how obstacles to same-sex marriage could perhaps be overcome.
But we do get to see some characters close up. Alexandra and Grace, of course, although I feel their presence could have been much stronger. The Archbishop of Canterbury – very much in favour of same-sex marriage – is another of the main characters. There are some nice personal moments mixed in with discussions between church leaders, politicians, royal household staff,… (So many characters! Sometimes I could have used a handy reference…)
I would like to have seen more about the romance between Alexandra and Grace; the reporting style is clever, but keeps the characters at an emotional distance. Despite that, and despite a general lack of time to read anything (life!) I read the last two thirds of the book in the space of twenty four hours.