OPINION | GARY SMITH: Even when it’s early, across the pond and no longer linked to our culture, Americans find meaning in ceremony

Even in the wee hours, a ceremony means something

I'm afraid they lost me at the orb.

Specifically, it's the Sovereign's Orb, the golden globe surmounted by a cross that apparently serves as a reminder to the monarch of Great Britain that he or she derives power from the Almighty. The latest head of the family business at least nominally ruling the nation and its subsidiaries and franchises carries it around on Coronation Day.

Apparently daily reminding of this isn't required since it only shows up during coronations (maybe there's a smaller version that serves as a paperweight, because these folks are definitely analog enough to actually write stuff down).

Whatever the case, I was OK with the whole pomp, circumstance and folderol of the swearing in (Crowning? Coronating? Is that even a word?) of the current king of the United Kingdom, Canada and His other Realms and Territories and Head of the Commonwealth ... until the orb showed up.

I mean, the robe, I got. It was cold and rainy in London on the day Charles III got his new job. Which, apparently is to say, it was any day in London. And a sceptre I can understand. Fills in as a backscratcher, helps get things out from under the sofa and can to useful to keep the kids in line when the preacher forgets the old "be bright, be brief, be gone" dictate or wants to linger on the altar call.

But when you start parading around with an orb, I gotta ask just how useful it, or, by extension, you are.

And yet there we were, up early-ish on a Saturday watching the titular head (which is short for "not really the head at all") of our oldest ally (which is short for, "the country we've gone to war alongside more often and more recently than we've gone to war against and that sort of speaks the same language we do") get sworn in. Crowned. Whatever.

It's likely a bit of a cheap shot to comment that given his age and overall bearing, Charles closely resembles that vice principal no one really liked. And the assorted cast of robed characters circling him during the ceremony could have passed for extras in one of those British murder mysteries where the crime gets solved by an old lady who bakes or a priest.

Except, of course, for the Lady in Blue carrying the sword who walked around in front of him. On purpose, I guess. While ladies with swords figure prominently in a lot of British leadership decisions, this particular Lady with a Sword is the chairman of the King's Privy Council, Charles' advisory committee. Though the fact that she's packing a pretty substantial pig-sticker would imply she gets to do most of the advising. And the last scone.

Again, pretty easy to make fun of the whole thing. I mean, lots of strange stuff like orbs and swords, much walking around in funny hats and overlooking the fact practically every object in the place was stolen at gunpoint from one of the colonies.

But even those of us no longer part of the Commonwealth or Kingdom or whatever entity it is you're in when you just show up for weddings, funerals and coronations (I think we call that being a second cousin in the United States) are drawn to the event. We do love our ceremonies. And there is something about standing in front of a lot of people and making promises we take seriously and are more than willing to celebrate.

May not make a lot of sense, but on some level it means something to us.

Later in the week after Charles took on the new gig (and likely ditched the orb) the Lovely Mrs. Smith and I got to attend the wedding of one of the children of old friends of ours. It was a beautiful ceremony, a lovely couple and a great start to their life together. And yes, they could have accomplished the same thing in an office down at City Hall in about five minutes.

But, ceremony. It's important to us. Makes things real and special. Even if there isn't an orb involved.

Of course there is one key difference. After his ceremony, I bet Charles didn't get to dance to "YMCA." I imagine he'd have liked that.

Great Britain is our closest ally, which apparently means we fought wars with them after we fought wars against them. But the count is tied, so maybe we shouldn't be taking this current buddy-buddy stuff for granted.