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Richard Quest: Why the royal wedding matters

By Richard Quest, CNN correspondent
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Explain it to me: The royal wedding
  • A personal reflection on the royal wedding from CNN's Richard Quest
  • He says British monarchy has a powerful hold over those who have been brought up under it
  • Quest: "I will watch the ceremony and feel a part of it because it continues something which has been with me all of my life"

Editor's Note: Richard Quest is part of the team anchoring CNN's special live coverage of the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29.

London (CNN) -- I have often wondered why I care about a family to which I am not related; that I will never know on personal or confidential terms; that has little bearing on what happens in my everyday life. In other words -- why do I care about the royal wedding?

I tried to explain this relationship to an American last week. He could hear what I was saying. He just couldn't understand it. We were talking a different language.

You see, while we wish any newlyweds all the happiness in the world, the marriage of the heir apparent and his queen consort-to-be has struck home with many subjects of the Crown.

The reasons go deep into the psyche of those who have been brought up under monarchy and are content for it to continue.

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The history of Buckingham Palace

From our very earliest days we knew there was this woman who lived in a palace. Her face was on our money. Our stamps. She had her own song which we sang, asking God to save her.

And every Christmas Day after lunch, our family would be shushed so we could watch her speak on television, and collectively comment on whether she was looking older, younger, fitter, fatter -- while speculating on the worth of the pearls she's wearing.

I am 49. The queen has been on the throne all my life and then some. The knowledge that Charles will take over has been omnipresent -- never really questioned except for a brief hiatus during the Diana debacle. From the moment William was born in 1982 we knew he was the next one. That is the way monarchy works. Ever present. Consistent.

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The power of this institution to draw us back in was seen after the queen mother's death which I covered in 2002. The palace had feared no one would show up to pay respects at her lying in state. We turned up in our tens of thousands. I was privileged to be amongst the last to walk through on the morning of the funeral. Her coffin sat, with crown upon it, before being borne to Westminster Abbey for the funeral service. The power of history was overwhelming. The Crown and the Abbey.

It is a relationship which goes back a thousand years. The Abbey is a very special church. It is a Royal Peculiar, meaning it comes under the personal authority of the sovereign.

William's wedding is in the sanctuary where one day he will sit on the Coronation Chair with the Stone of Scone, to be anointed king: There have been 38 coronations at the Abbey since William the Conqueror in 1066. You don't ignore a thousand years lightly.

I will watch the ceremony and feel a part of it because it continues something which has been with me all of my life.
--Richard Quest, CNN correspondent
Living the royal life
Looking back at a previous royal wedding

I am not blind to the faults of this system -- sometimes you get the feeling that the junior royals are laughing at us for the way society dotes on them. Then you see what Kate Middleton is about to take on board and ask yourself -- would you really want the rest of your life to be in that gilded goldfish bowl? It is worth remembering that three of the queen's four children's marriages ended in divorce because of that strain.

Next week, seen from outside, the rest of the world is witnessing the biggest reality show in the world. The wedding is the ultimate Big Brother. The logician can offer a thousand reasons why this whole business is anachronistic and unrealistic. That isn't the point. I will watch the ceremony and feel a part of it because it continues something which has been with me all of my life.

Similarly, every British person has a relationship with the monarchy in some way. Yes, we can get rid of each other if either side wanted it. But for now, I will stand outside the Abbey, do my duty and commentate on the event -- and in so doing celebrate the wedding, not of William and Kate, but of my future head of state.

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