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Posted on Fri, Apr 29, 2011 : 10:02 a.m.

Cult of Celebrity; Watch the royal wedding? And, the mattress?

By Wayne Baker

0427 Royal Wedding souvenirs.jpg

ROYAL WEDDING SPECIALS! China, cuff links, gloves, nail coverings and even a royal pizza!

Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Editor's note: This post is part of a series by Dr. Baker on Our Values about core American values. This week Dr. Baker is discussing the cultural obsession with celebrities, what it means, what values it represents, and even the function it may serve.

Did you join the billions around the globe who watched the royal wedding ceremony this morning? I confess: I didn’t. But a few items yesterday caught my eye.

Estibalis Chavez, 19 years old, wanted so much to see the wedding that she went on a 16-day hunger strike in front of the British Embassy in Mexico City. She didn’t get an invitation, according to NPR, but a generous soul paid her way to London, where she was turned away by British authorities.

If you are interested in the royal event, there is no end to the amount of coverage you can enjoy!

The monarchy is making full use of social media. You can find continuous coverage on YouTube, Tweets galore, Flickr images, and rounds of media briefings. There’s an official Royal Wedding website, which is one of the slickest I have seen. You can view an interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury, see the guest lists, ponder the seating plan, floral arrangements, meet the photographer, and much more.

The Royal Mail has issued commemorative wedding stamps—and a host of entrepreneurs have produced royal wedding knock offs.

For those who want to send gifts to the royal couple, William and Kate have set up a Royal Wedding Charitable Gift Fund. There’s this special page for the charitable fund explaining the causes that William and Kate say are close their hearts.

As I surfed through the coverage yesterday, I was struck by photos of the still-single prince outside Buckingham Palace, shaking hands with the throng of smiling well-wishers. It reminded me of how much the royal role is now ceremony and symbol.

Another was about a mattress! Last might, Kate Middleton slept at the Goring Hotel in London on a mattress that had been custom-made for her, meant to be used for one night to ensure a perfect sleep and then to be destroyed afterwards so no one else could use it. Perhaps this is standard practice. But doesn’t it strike you as, well, a little silly? What do you make of it?

About 2,000 guests attended the wedding, though at least one was disinvited at the last minute: the Syrian ambassador.

The British Foreign Office advised the Royal Household to retract the invitation in response to the violent reaction of the Syrian government to protesters. Gadhafi never got one in the first place. But representatives from other repressive regimes were in attendance. All governments with normal diplomatic relations in Britain were invited.

The royal wedding has been mentioned once every 10 seconds on the web this week, according to a study! One can understand the excitement of the British.

What makes the royal wedding so popular? Do you think it’s worth the world’s attention? Were you a royal-wedding watcher? Did you follow all the details—like the royal mattress story?

Please, Comment below!

Dr. Wayne E. Baker is a sociologist on the faculty of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Baker blogs daily at Our Values and can be reached at or on Facebook.