I think it is realistic, rather than premature, to say I’m getting ready to watch the last significant royal wedding of my lifetime.
Come on. I’m in my sixties. Do you really think I’ll be around to watch George, Charlotte, or Louis tie the knot?
I’m not sure I’ll even be around to see their sprightly great-grandmother kick the bejeweled bucket!
Consequently, I feel particularly wistful as I get ready to watch handsome Prince Harry pledge his troth to the lovely Ms Meghan Markle… an American, a divorcee and an actress.
No longer is a Prince of the Realm sacrificing a teen-aged virgin to his need for a pure-blooded heir; now, he’s marrying someone who is ready to be his partner, not his concubine and minion. Harry is marrying a woman with a voice, with a history of accomplishment. I don’t think she’s going to hide behind his epaulets as he goes about doing good work; she’s already made her mark as a humanitarian, and will be able to continue her work from a much more powerful platform.
If you’re wondering whether I always get dewy-eyed when philanthropists join in matrimony, then let me admit it right now: the answer is NO.
I’m a fool for royalty.
I’ve been besotted by the whole idea of monarchy since I was six years old. My grandfather took me to see a charming German movie called Sissi, in which a lovely tomboy falls in love with a fellow she meets in a country village. Soon, she learns that he’s her cousin Franz Joseph, Emperor of Austria, and that he’s expected to marry her sister. There’s a ball at which he’s supposed to hand the sister a bouquet of roses, signaling their engagement…he bypasses that young woman with her outstretched hands, and gives the flowers to Sissi. Cue the orchestra, cut to the Cathedral, start the Wedding March.
I learned a number of things from that movie.
Royals dress better than the rest of us. The women wear fabulous gowns and wonderful diamonds; the men wear tunics and sashes, and they dangle swords at their sides. I’ve lived in a socialist state and in a democracy; neither of these systems of government provides any opportunity for great sartorial splendor. I need to live where tiaras are worn, and weapons are merely decorative.
Royals have much grander transportation. When they’re not riding magnificent horses, they’re traveling in great golden carriages. I went to my wedding in a Toyota; even though it was silver, it lacked a certain magnificence.
Royals enjoy much more lavish entertainment than the rest of us. I’ve been to some pretty good parties… even some fancy ones… but damn! Wouldn’t it be fun to go to a ball? Wouldn’t it be a blast to waltz around a grand ballroom as gracefully as a leaf in the wind, secure in the arms of a person on whom many nations depend?
Finally, the movie taught me to expect royals to live happily ever after.
I was in college before I found out that Franz Joseph and Sissi went on to have an absolutely miserable marriage. In time, their son committed suicide, she was assassinated, and he died right before World War I ended his Empire.
I prefer not to think about that.
While I was in college, I watched Princess Anne get married. I don’t know if I watched the ceremony live, but I do remember gathering with friends around a 10” Sony, staring in admiration at her Carnaby Street-worthy gown with its huge Tudor sleeves. Her husband was impossibly handsome… she’d actually snared an Olympic Equestrian! And the pageantry we witnessed as they waved to the crowds from the balcony reassured my plebeian pals and me that fairy tales were real.
Yeah, I know. Both cheated and they divorced.
Do we need to talk about Charles and Diana? Or Andrew and Fergie? I watched their weddings live, in their entirety, and have watched them again and again throughout the years, even after they dashed all my expectations for a happy ending. I still get stupid at the sound of Jeremiah Clarke’s Trumpet Voluntary (The Prince of Denmark’s March); it always evokes the poignancy of seeing the very young Diana walking up the aisle, wearing a twenty-five foot train as ominous as the one that followed Anna Karenina.
I refused to watch Charles marry Camilla. I still refuse to watch Charles whenever possible; I hate to see the bloody bastard looking so damned happy.
So what did I do in 2011? I got up at 4:00 am and I watched William and Kate get married. He was Diana’s boy… I had to. She looked like a sweet girl, but savvy. He tried to break up with her once, and she made sure the press showed him what he was missing. He crawled back like a puppy. These two had a chance.
And now, I expect to be in bed by nine, so I can get up at four and watch Meghan marry Harry. I want to see what they wear. I want to see what they ride. I want to hear the music they play. I want to know if they’ll say their vows correctly, or screw them up adorably, as his mother once did. I want to know if they’ll have a walkabout and greet the people who’ve waited for days to see them.
I want to see them kiss.
And I want them to live happily ever after.
Even for Royalty.
It really can happen.