A TIME Gala and A Royal Wedding

  • Kevin Mazur / WireImage for TIME

    Sting performs on stage at the TIME 100 Gala, TIME'S 100 Most Influential People In The World at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 26, 2011 in New York City.

    The seventh annual TIME 100 gala celebrated revolutionaries in many fields. Wael Ghonim, who helped ignite the Egyptian uprising, offered a moment of silence to fallen comrades. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, toasted a Democratic influence, John F. Kennedy. Via video, astronaut Mark Kelly saluted his wife Gabrielle Giffords. Musician and activist Sting dedicated a song to the people who inspire him most, his family. And Amy Poehler thanked the unsung caretakers who look after our children.

    In England, Henry Adams once said, every man is someone's son, but in America, every man is someone's father. What he meant was that America is a meritocracy, not an aristocracy. The U.S. was born in violent opposition to much of what the British royal family represents: dynastic power, primogeniture, a state religion. But nostalgia has always run strong in the American character — there were those at the Constitutional Convention who wanted George Washington to be President for life, as if he were a King — and for us, unlike for the Brits, the monarchy can be just an enjoyable fantasy. Our commemorative royal-wedding issue combines fun, history and a little bit of skepticism.