Once in a while, nature comes up with examples of truly fascinating stuff: Termite colonies fighting on the dry and barren wastelads between their hills, taking hostages, killing their enemies without mercy. Birds that, despite their plumage, retain the characteristics of their direct ancestors, the dinosaurs. Octopuses opening jars of marmelade after watching a video of a colleague doing exactly the same thing… And what to think of the naked mole rat, a hideous looking (blind!) mammal that lives underground in colonies with a queen, workers and breeding males, just like ants, bees and wasps.
But none of these examples are nearly as fascinating as the marriage ceremony of Kate Middleton and Prince William.
Alien biologists, if they would have tuned in to the BBC (i’m sure they have digital television), would surely have had a field day.
After all, it doesn’t happen very often that two of the few remaining living relics of medieval times come together in celebration and draw massive crowds towards London. I am talking, of course, about Church, and its faithful ally: Monarchy.
I can only guess what beings from a distant planet might have thought if, by chance, they would have tuned in at the moment when the Archbishop of Canterbury (wearing a funny hat) stepped forward towards the altar. After all, here’s a man who calls himself the “Chief Primate”. I can imagine the slimy tentacles (the aliens’) scribbling notes on their paper: “Their leader, obviously. Obliterate if necessary”.
What would they make of those people in Westminster Abbey (also wearing funny hats)? If they would have been able to take a DNA sample of each of them, it would have been quite clear that most of those fancy dressed people were actually closely related, a situation not quite dissimilar from those naked mole rats in Eastern Africa.
And what if by accident they jumped to conclusions, and thought that the organization of the Royal Family is that of any normal human household? Would they think that a grandmother throwing a dinner party for her grandson is common practice? That wearing funny hats is mandatory? That, when you marry, you need to invite half of the world to look at it?
Clearly, next time, we need to send an explanatory note into space a few months before…just to avoid misunderstandings.