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Page last updated at 07:56 GMT, Saturday, 30 April 2011 08:56 UK

Britain's royal wedding 'ritual'

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These are just a few moments in the nation's history that, like the royal wedding, draw TV audiences of millions. But how important are these shared experiences in the cultural history of Britain?

Professor Sir Christopher Frayling says that while academics might look down on the ritualistic aspect of such national events, these were actually very important in binding a people together.

"These events have a very strong ritual function," he said, drawing together the state and ideas of love and celebration.

Social historian Juliet Gardiner wasn't so certain about the lasting impact.

"People aren't stupid. They know perfectly well that a bit of sherry trifle and some bunting isn't going to make the problems of the NHS go away," she said.

But events like the royal wedding do add to our "memory bank", she said, and help us to think about national identity.

One of the most important thing about the royal wedding celebrations, she said, was that it took place out on the street.

"These things are bringing us out into the street, it's nobody's territory."


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