Just in time for the big wedding:
The Loyal Wedding
‘Whither thou goest,
I will go;
And where thou lodgest, I will lodge;
Thy people shall be my people,
And thy God my God.’
As the “Royal Wedding” of Prince William and Kate Middleton draws mercifully closer, I’ve had my fill. Why are we Americans so enamored by a marriage taking place across the Atlantic? Enough! As my old grandpa would say, “Gag me with a bent spoon.” Any country that refers to folks as “commoners” grates on my American roots and ego. In my country, we say, “I’m as good as you but no better.”
Of course our countries—Great Britain and America—are linked in so many ways. We share the same (more or less) language, similar governments and cultures. We’ve covered each other’s backs in crises for the past hundred years.
However, I don’t understand the big to-do over the Royal Wedding—see, it’s even described as a proper noun.
Last week a friend shared a passage from Moral Combat* by Michael Burleigh. It recounts the early days of 1941 when Great Britain stood alone against the Nazi war machine. America, although supportive with equipment, wasn’t yet willing to become directly involved.
During this dark time, President Roosevelt sent his closest friend, Harry Hopkins, to personally observe England’s resilience and morale as well assess present and future needs. Hopkins spent weeks touring defense installations and listening to the English people. He had twelve dinners with Prime Minister Winston Churchill, which led to a deep friendship between the two men.
At the final dinner, Hopkins, the only American in the room, rose and recited from the Book of Ruth: “Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” Then he added: “Even to the end.”
The Prime Minister wept . . . as I’m sure everyone else in the room did also. Seventy years later, the story still moves me deeply as if I were there that very night.
After reading this narrative, I understand more about the unbreakable bond between Americans and the English. We’re linked at the heart. We’re family. And I guess that’s why a Royal Wedding in their country becomes a Royal Wedding in ours.
Our two countries have a loyal marriage, seemingly joined at the altar of “Unto Death Do Us Part.” I believe that’s exactly what Harry Hopkins was trying to convey in his words.
So as the future King of England marries Kate Middleton on Friday, this “American commoner” wishes them the very best. I pray over the royal couple the same words Ruth spoke to her mother-in-law, Naomi. “Whither thou goest, I will go….”
May their royal wedding result in a loyal marriage—a marriage that stands the test of time and the pressures of fame, power, and public life—a marriage that blesses their family, their country, and even the world.
Curt Iles writes from his hometown of Dry Creek, Louisiana. He can be reached at http://www.creekbank.net.
*Moral Combat Michael Burleigh ©2010 Harper Collins. Special thanks to Otis Ferguson for bringing this passage to my attention.