Princess Beatrice's Hat

Maybe it was the sinuous yet rigid convulsions. Or perhaps the precarious way it perched on her head. Or the vortex of the giant “O.” Somehow, Princess Beatrice’s taupe fascinator became one of the most enduring images of the royal wedding on Apr. 29.

The hat was just one small part of the spectacle. In the U.S., nearly 23 million people watched, while in another former colony more than 42 million Indians tuned in. British subjects and hordes of international tourists lined London’s streets to watch the procession, purchasing souvenir mugs and leaving some 140 tons of trash in their wake. At the same time, factories in China raced to knock off Kate’s bridal gown.

The wedding provided a fleeting moment of unity for the Brits, who had been beset by decades of royal scandals and nearly a year of budget cuts that hacked away at welfare, jobs, and education. By December, new cuts would affect the budget of even the Queen and the newlyweds. There were faint gripes about the event’s price tag in a time of austerity, but no outrage or calls to Occupy Westminster Abbey. The wedding, with its confectionary head toppings and tale of royal-meets-commoner love, was a welcome escape.

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