Transpartisan Note #95
by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner
That Royal Wedding!!! A kaleidoscope of integrating political and cultural memes, like a flash of lightning showing the flow of transpartisan movement across the globe.
A (the?) most spectacular transpartisan event of this young century. The divorced, biracial American Meghan Markle, and the handsome British prince, son of Diana, emerge from the day as a most important, symbolic embodiment of how far transpartisan values have come and how bright a future they point toward.
Transpartisan appears in multiple forms. Mainstream political symbols tend toward mechanistic, binary concepts, preoccupied with exposing falsehood. These concepts have useful meaning only in disengaged, abstract public life. They have little or no meaning in private, engaged life.
Around the globe privately engaged individuals demand their public servants stop their nonsensical arguing and destructive interference in private lives. The Royal Wedding underscored and flashed into view the vast private changes underway in our community lives and how far out of touch formal politics is with personal living.
Mainstream symbols rooted in crudely crafted identity politics parade across the ‘public’ stage as weapons. Symbols like left, right, race, gender, life as conflict, ’winners’ and ‘losers’, ‘victims’ and ‘oppressors’ (including “oppressive” culture) clash in wasteful conflict. They deny, diminish, denigrate the primacy of ‘private’ lives.
Transpartisan recognizes individuals striving for connection beyond the superficial public categories. Transpartisan recognizes qualities, in conscious, engaged life that transform the brittle disengaged forms of public political combat. The Wedding showed the breakup of all the mythic furniture, starting with race.
Here was the British royal family, the heart of the British Establishment, with blacks everywhere celebrating the essence of order-right values, rooted in love which order and free, left and right all feel moved by and energetically embrace. That embrace transcends all identity conflict. It is transpartisan. Examples:
- Alongside the Most Revd Justin Welby white Archbishop of Canterbury was a sermon, raved about by Rev Welby, delivered by The Very Rev. Michael Curry, the first African-American to preside over the Episcopal Church of America, delivered in the manner of a Southern Baptist preacher on the power of love;
- Rose Josephine Hudson-Wilkin, QHC a black woman who serves as the personal Chaplain to the Queen, followed with a shorter sermon also intoning about the power of love;
- The Kingdom Choir, made up of 20 singers ‘a unique group of dedicated men and women, who blend Choral discipline with the raw Gospel spiritual sound – drawn from an inner experience,’ says their website.This all-black choir marked the rise of slavery’s descendants into the heart of the colonial enterprise;
- Sheku Kanneh-Mason, the black royal wedding cellist, gave, according to multiple media reports and reactions from the vast audience that watched, a breathtaking performance.
- Then The Wedding disposed of gender orthodoxy. Meghan’s arrestingly simple gown came from Givenchy, a first-tier temple of haute couturein Paris. It was designed by the British designer Claire Wade Keller, whowas the first female artistic director in Givenchy’s history. Long articles appeared on how the dress, ‘inspired by all 12 signs of the Zodiac,’ was a perfect symbol for Meghan.
- Sir Elton John attending the wedding with his husband David Furnish and highlighting the reception underscored the decline of gender orthodoxies.
The royal couple chose the music, combining traditional High-Church music with African-American gospel. The service began with a musical fanfare by the state trumpeters of the Household Cavalry, featuring Lance Corporal Kate Sandford, first woman from the Household Cavalry band to play the fanfare at a Royal wedding.
Celebrities abounded: Amal and George Clooney, Elton John, Serena Williams, David and Victoria Beckham, Oprah. All in Windsor Castle’s medieval splendor in the Queen’s own St. George’s Chapel, completed by Henry VIII in 1528, reminding that the march of individual reach, personal conscience, and free expression begun at the beginning of time continues on a long and winding path into today and beyond.
Hundreds of thousands of ‘common’ private people waited all night and lined the streets to see the royal couple. The constant drum-beat theme was how they LOVED Meghan, how it thrilled them that this beautiful American was marrying the most popular member of the British royal family.
Will the moment last? Divorce until recently was the ‘line in the sand’ for the English church. How things have changed. Three of the Queen’s four children are divorced, to a large degree because of the suffocating rigidity of the roles imposed on people who need more than anything free expression.
And Meghan Markle? Her intense eyes and brilliant smile suggest an embracing transpartisan soul who understands the extraordinary role she has been ‘called’ to play. Embracing and transcending her commitment to her husband, she seemed to revel in her role, which is more significant and permanent than any she auditioned for as an actress—a role she will play for the whole of her life.
We suggest this role expresses love, drawn from an inner experience which blends discipline and order with the raw spiritual force of freedom. What a Wedding!