Thursday, April 28, 2011

Why I am staying up to watch the Royal Wedding

I'm going to date myself now, if I haven't done so already, by telling you why I'm staying up (or getting up early, as the case may be) to watch the royal wedding.

No doubt you've already seen hundreds of headlines, articles, blogs, and newsreels looking back on the wedding of William's parents, Charles and Diana.  Those of you who aren't old enough to remember it may laugh at her Ultimate 80s hairdo and the overly bouffy gown she wore.  I've watched a few of these as well, but I don't particularly like them.  It seems to me that the people commenting on them are seeing that wedding from thirty years in the future.  We all know how it ended...badly...but at the time, nothing on Earth could hold a candle to Lady Diana Spencer.  And I got to be there.  Well, sort of.

The Summer of 1981 was the most important time of my life.  I'm not exaggerating.  It was more important than graduating college, getting married, moving to a new city.  Nothing at all that happens in my life will ever undo what was created in me that Summer.  I was thirteen years old and my parents did something unbelievably stupid.  They sold our house, closed up Dad's law practice, and took my brothers and me to Europe for three months.  We picked up the latest and greatest camper van (a Volkswagen Westfalia popup) and drove...everywhere...for three months.  I mean everywhere.  Except Venice.  For some reason we skipped Venice.  Everywhere else. 

As it happened, the date of Charles and Diana's wedding happened to take place while we were in London.  The weeks building up to it were like nothing I'd ever seen before.  Charles and Diana's faces were on anything you could buy, including chocolate.  You think that's creepy?  I bought some.  It was Cadbury's, and it was delicious.  And I think I still have the commemorative tin somewhere.  And of course, because we were in London, we were able to watch the wedding live.

Okay, I admit, we weren't really live, or even on the parade route, although I would have given my left pinky to be there (I wouldn't have missed the pinky).  My parents were more sensible than that.  They found a nice, quiet campground in a nice, quiet suburb, where the owner of a local pub invited us all to watch the wedding. I was disappointed, but I got to watch the whole thing live.  It lasted for, like five hours, including the processional and everything, and I was glued to the TV (telly?) the whole time.

I loved Diana.  I know there have been a lot of things said about her over the years, and I can't attest to what's true and what's not.  In fact, I never really paid attention to the details.  Kind of like when you don't want to listen when someone starts spewing toxic waste about your best friend.  You don't care if it's true, you love her anyway.  That's how I felt about Diana.  She was beautiful, she was kind, and even if she did some things I wouldn't have done, she never did anything to deserve what happened to her.  When I heard she died, I wept, and trust me, I'm not a weeper. 

Now, as you know, a lot happened after the wedding, and most of it wasn't good, but I do think that Prince William made it all worthwhile.  I remember when he was born, when he started school, when he turned eighteen and went public to the press.  I admire his grace and charm, but most importantly, I love the fact that he looks so much like his mother, whose wedding I watched thirty sad, long years ago. 

And just as a very young girl watched his mother, a very tired 43 year old will stay up to the wee hours and watch another royal wedding.  This time, let's hope for happiness.


  1. I have to agree with you. Diana did not deserve how she was treated nor how her life ended. I am hoping that her son and his chosen bride learned from past mistakes and have a long happy marriage. William and I are only a couple weeks apart in age so I missed Diana's wedding obviously but I have adored the footage I've seen of it.

  2. I hope you're right. Fact is, so far Will and Kate have a lot more going for them. For one thing, they met and fell in love on their own, which was definitely not the case with his parents. Also, Kate Middleton is a lot older and more mature than Diana was when she got married. I wish them all the best.