Merry times

Royal weddings have the continent all atwitter, as the crown princes of Denmark and Spain married in the same month. The lavish royal weddings, a welcome distraction for millions of viewers, were especially big hits because the brides were commoners.

Long gone are the days when Europe’s inbred royalty kept to itself. Far from it — Frederik met his Australian bride, Mary Donaldson, in a Sydney bar during the 2000 Olympics. Felipe, heir to the throne of “los reyes católicos,” married Letizia Ortiz, a TV journalist who was married once before.

English tabloids would have enjoyed imagining that conversation over tapas in the royal palace, “Mom, Dad, there is something you need to know about Letizia....” But this was Spain, not England, and the royal family is no subject for mockery. Indeed, far from a national ornament, the father of the groom, King Juan Carlos, is widely admired for his forceful oversight of Spain’s transition to democracy. And though the ceremony was ton-ed down in remembrance of the March 11 terrorist attacks in Madrid, it was watched by millions of former subjects throughout Latin America. Above all, these May royal weddings are a tantalising form of reality TV. It’s no longer about evoking fantasies of being born a prince or a princess. All aspiring contestants need to do is go out and woo one. — The New York Times