BOSTON — Bostonians celebrated the royal nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton Friday afternoon with a reception at the Old State House, which was, it’s safe to say, a historically fraught location for such an event.
The Lion and Unicorn statues on the east side of the building are symbols of the British crown. Times have certainly changed from the days when Boston patriots ripped the buggers down and burned them in the street (which they did in 1776).
Friday was a comparatively tame affair wherein ladies in elaborate hats ate heart-shaped Dunkin’ Donuts and stood in a long line to sign an official wedding register for William and Kate.
The British counsel general to New England, Phil Budden, co-hosted the reception, and I had to ask him: isn’t there some irony inherent in celebrating the royal family on the site of the Boston Massacre?
“Boston is well-known for its role in the revolution,” Budden conceded. “But the room we’re standing in at the moment was the room where the royal governors used to run Massachusetts, where they would defend Massachusetts against New France. So actually we think there’s both sides to the story. Boston was a key part of the revolution, but Boston was also a key part of the British-American Atlantic world.”
Fair enough. Still, I asked the celebration’s other host, Brian LeMay of the Bostonian Society, the same question.
“I think it probably is a little bit ironic,” LeMay said with a chuckle. “But it also, I think, is not entirely inappropriate.”
LeMay’s organization runs the museum in the Old State House. He says Friday was a good day to remember our common heritage with the Brits.
“It’s part of the history of Boston,” LeMay said. “Americans were Britons for a good number of years, and the ideas that formed the foundations of the American government — freedom of assembly and freedom from search and seizure — these issues actually have a connection to ideas that were sparked by the enlightenment in Britain.”
Yeah yeah, that’s all fascinating. But here’s the important question I asked LeMay: have you signed the register yet?
“I think I was the third person to sign in,” he said proudly.
But did he offer any advice for the happy couple?
“My wife told me what to say, and she said that ‘it gets better every year.’ ”
An optimistic sentiment, but it does seem to be the case that it’s gotten better every year for Boston and Britain.