Royal Flush

A cynical Brit catches the big wedding from a Vegas pub—and folds

“The institution of Royalty in any form is an insult to the human race.” So stated Mark Twain, a personal hero, and a bit of a loon. I have to admit I’ve always sided with Twain and my father when it came to the aristocracy: The feeling was vitriolic loathing at worst and apathy at best. This can be tricky in a Peterborough, England, household that was run by a mother who had read every article there ever was on the Royals, would not hear a word against the royal institution and essentially has a real-life princess for a daughter. So it’s fair to say my psyche was torn as the monumental day approached. But somehow, in my ninth year in the United States and second in Las Vegas, I just couldn’t miss the moment.

I arrived at the Queen Victoria Pub inside the Riviera in the wee hours on April 29 to watch the pomp and ceremony live. I came in cynical, and after a few cheeky beverages in the lead-up to the Disney fairytale, I was ready to deliver some acerbic one-liners about Aristocrats, elitism and obscene wastes of money ($60 million-ish).

However, the next few hours taught me a little lesson in humility. In a world where it is damn near impossible to avoid horrific stories of war, cruelty and anguish, we had a day of respite. For once, everyone wanted to smile; for once, everyone wanted a ray of sunshine, and I was right there with them.

Inside the pub, women clad in an astonishing array of hats (trust me, Philip Treacy would have been proud) and flowing spring dresses cried into their drinks. One of their own was marrying a prince: a “commoner” (albeit one with the Poshest voice I’ve ever heard) was becoming a “Royal,” and every woman on the planet seemed to want to share in the saga. Carrie and Big from Sex and the City were created for sorority girls to aspire to, and they did, in droves, but this romance was real: Maybe if “I” could just do a semester abroad, maybe, just maybe, that dream could come true for “me” too. With Harry still on the shelf, and his penchant for a good party (I’ve seen evidence of this live in Mahiki nightclub), that martini-drenched dream might not be such a fantasy after all.

The Queen Vic Pub provided the platform for an unabashed display of emotions. There were standing ovations, couples in their 70s (maybe 80s) kissing as Wills and Kate kissed, and it broke me. I was in; pass me the Royal Kool-Aid. For a brief instant, everyone seemed happy. No one was staring into the little screen of their personal antisocial device. In one beautiful, symbiotic, overwhelming moment, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face, and damn it, it felt good.

I have just one bone to pick. Pippa—Kate’s sister—yes, she’s attractive, but can the world’s media pump the brakes a little? Half the cocktail waitresses in Las Vegas make her look like she fell off the back of a royal carriage, got run over by a white horse and was patched up by a blind seamstress. Viva Las Vegas! God bless all of you phenomenal ladies of the night, er … you know what I mean.