An American Take on the Royal Wedding

In July, 1981, when Prince Charles married Princess Diana, I was planning my own October wedding. I got up at 4 a.m. to watch, and marched into work that day proclaiming, “Trumpets! I must have trumpets!” Well, that didn’t happen, of course, but I was no less excited at 4 a.m. on April 29, 2011, when I arose to watch Prince William marry Kate Middleton.

Watching the guests arrive is always fascinating. (Visit this site and this site to see people arriving and the ceremony.) I just have one question. In “My Fair Lady,” Professor Higgins sings, “Why can’t the English teach their children to speak?” I have a different question. “Why can’t the English teach their women to walk!?”

From the Queen on down, forgive me residents of the Empire, but they all walk like clodhoppers! Save for Kate’s mother, who was the only woman I saw who seemed to walk gracefully. Also, I know English people are reserved, but really, can’t you hold your wife’s hand at a wedding? The only couple I saw holding hands was the King and Queen of Norway.

Now for the Abbey. Trees? Really? While it did look nice I guess, I just thought it was odd. Plus, it blocked the top of all those glorious hats! (The prime minister’s wife, however, bucked tradition and was bareheaded. I do believe she was the only one.)

The Queen looked fabulous in my favorite color, yellow, and she actually smiled a few times. Prince Phillip always looks dashing and, God bless him, he’s 90! Prince Charles was in uniform, and even Camilla managed a lovely look in a cream ensemble. Kate’s mother Carole looked fetching in a powder blue coat dress.

Princess Anne, well, I’m sorry, that green and purple outfit was “unfortunate.” Princess Eugenie, who is definitely her mother’s daughter, arrived in a very contemporary dress, but I wasn’t blown away by the balloon skirt, and her blue feathered hat seemed to have fruit on it. Princess Beatrice’s tapered taupe outfit was much more attractive, but what was she thinking with that hat that seemed to bloom from her forehead!

And now, Kate’s dress, that Prince William was the last to see. Well, it is being compared to Grace Kelly’s dress when she married the Prince of Monaco. Elegant understatement, much different from the bouffant, I have to say this, monstrosity, worn by Princess Diana. It was an Alexander McQueen gown designed by Sarah Burton, form-fitting ivory with lace appliqué v-neck and lace sleeves. Individual flowers were hand cut from lace and applied onto ivory silk tulle. Her train was two metres and 70 centimetres long (6 feet by 6 and 7/10 inches, for you colonists). I was hoping for a longer train. Come on, Kate, you’re the future Queen of England!

Queen Elizabeth gave Kate a Cartier tiara purchased by King George for the Queen Mother in 1936, which was given to the Queen by her mother on her 18th birthday. The bottom part of her veil was appliquéd, but I would have had a few Austrian crystals on the part that covered her head.

Kate’s bouquet consisted of lilies of the valley, sweet William and hyacinth blooms, arranged in a shield shape. She wore her beautiful long hair down and I was so glad because I hate it when girls with long hair wear it up at their wedding. Middleton’s sister Phillipa wore a simple form-fitting, ivory satin-based crepe dress, also by Alexander McQueen. She looked smashing!

During the ceremony, I couldn’t help but wish the English weren’t so stone-faced at these kinds of things. (But I DID see a Buckingham Place Guard actually smile!) This is a love match, not like Prince Charles’ arranged marriage to Diana, whom he’d only met 13 times before the wedding. You’d think people would have looked happier! And I was a bit disappointed Kate arrived by car and not by coach. Prince William and Catherine did leave in a circa 1902 open Landau carriage, and it is reported that when William and Kate got into the carriage after the ceremony, she looked at him and said, “I am so happy.” Well, who wouldn’t be? You’ve just married the future King of England, and you’ll probably still be able to see, hear and walk when it happens!

I was impressed with the crowd who approached Buckingham Palace after the wedding to view the balcony appearance. It was orderly and calm, no pushing and shoving. I am afraid I must admit that colonists would most likely have run over their grandmother for a better view.

Prince William is now His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus, and Miss Catherine Middleton is now Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge.

I saw a sign that I think sums it all up: “Checkmate, Kate, you’ve taken the King!”