To the manor born

One of China’s favourite singers gets married in Yorkshire

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A long way from Taipei: Chou ties the knot in Selby Abbey

He was one of Hollywood’s most eligible bachelors; she an accomplished human rights lawyer. So when George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin exchanged vows at a ceremony in Venice, every detail of their wedding was gazetted by the international media.

Last week the Chinese got their own wedding-of-the-century too, when Taiwanese pop superstar Jay Chou, 36, surprised his fans by releasing a video of his marriage to the 21 year-old model Kun Ling (also known as Hannah Quinlivan, her father is from Australia and her mother from Taiwan).

The video, which is about two minutes long, has been viewed millions of times on YouTube and many more on China’s video sharing sites, as well as via Chou’s own social media page.

Chou and Kun met four years ago but the pop star only confirmed they were dating about twelve months ago. But there were soon rumours that they were going to get hitched as Chou had made public some pointed declarations that he intended to get married by the age of 35. When he told the media late last year that he expected to accomplish his goal (he turned 36 on January 18), the paparazzi launched a frenzied investigation into the likely location and the date.

Chou met his self-imposed deadline on marriage date – but only just. But very few would have guessed the location of the wedding, which took place at the thousand-year-old Selby Abbey in North Yorkshire in the UK on January 17.

Still, the public footage suggests a magical occasion. It begins with Chou striding confidently down the red carpet as an orchestra plays a song he had composed for his wedding. The bride is escorted by her father up the aisle, which is lit with dozens of candles.

The video ends with the pop star lifting his bride’s veil and giving her a lengthy kiss.

The footage generated an outpouring of emotion from netizens across China. Many lamented the end of an era. “You are my first idol, [your music has] been with me from childhood to adulthood,” one wrote. “Thank you for giving us wonderful memories. Wish both of you can share beautiful memories with each other too.”

“For many people of the post-eighties generation, the name Jay Chou represents our youth. We listened to his music when we were in school, studying in the library, taking exams, and having our hearts broken… So in many ways, Chou getting married means that we are young no more,” another wistfully observed.

“Jay is married, my heart is broken,” was a fairly typical response from one female fan.

But not everyone was so gushing, and a few even poked fun at the couple’s 14-year age gap, equating their relationship to a shushu (uncle) and a meimei (little sister).

Chou first rose to stardom with his debut album Jay. Since then he has dominated the billboard charts across Asia. Chou is also one of the few stars with cross-straits appeal. His hit song Huo Yuanjia, for instance, is based on a patriotic martial arts fighter glorified in Chinese texts for travelling the country to challenge foreigners in combat.

The singer has also starred in a dozen or so movies (including The Green Hornet with Seth Rogen) and he also directed the film The Rooftop.

Thanks to Chou’s endorsement, Selby Abbey and Castle Howard, where he and his bride hosted the wedding reception, have been deluged by fans since the big day, says The Liberty Times. Savvy tour operators have already added the abbey to their UK travel itinerary, while officials at Castle Howard told the South China Morning Post that it is rushing to translate its wedding brochure into Chinese in response to the surge in inquiries.

“We hope to see an increase in Chinese groups visiting us over the summer and during our Christmas opening,” confirmed Hannah Cooke, a spokesperson for Castle Howard.

The bigger mystery is why Chou and his bride opted to hold their nuptials in North Yorkshire in the first place. After all, it is hardly the most convenient place for guests to get to from Asia, nor is it likely to have the most hospitable weather in January.

Granted, it is good value for money (the Selby Times reports that the abbey’s organist can be hired for £118 and the choir for £120) but this would seem to be a secondary consideration for man whose bride wore a tiara estimated by the Daily Mail at £1.25 million ($1.89 million).

The theory among Chou’s fans is that he simply likes fairytale settings. WiC’s own speculation: might Chou be a fan of TV show Downton Abbey, a fictional drama that’s supposed to take place in North Yorkshire too?

Whatever the reason, local tourism bosses will be delighted to rake in the cash as the Jay Chou-effect starts to work its magic over the remainder of the year…

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