The Royal Wedding

Do you remember where you were when Charles and Diana got married?
I do.
I was on Cape Cod with my good friend, Kathy, staying at a house her parents had rented.  She and I, great friend all through high school, would be heading off to college in the coming weeks, she to Georgetown, me to Manhattan College, and the summer was bittersweet.  On one of our last days on the Cape, we set our alarms for four o’clock in the morning because the event that we had been looking forward to all summer—the royal wedding—was set to begin.
It had to be pretty special to get two teenaged girls up from their endless slumbers.
I remember that in order to see the wedding and remain in bed, we had to sleep on a creaky pullout bed in a drafty added-on room because that was the only room in the house that had both a television and a bed.  I remember that once four a.m. came, Kathy seemed less enthusiastic about the wedding than she had the night before when we were roaming Chatham, looking for a good time and only finding a plethora of fudge and tee shirt shops.  I, however, roused myself, not wanting to miss a minute of the Charles and Diana nuptials.
I remember, even though it was the early ‘80s and fashion was decidedly different than it is now, not liking Diana’s dress, thinking that it made the twenty-year-old look dowdy and frumpy.  I also remember laughing when she flubbed his many-parted name in the vows.  I remember the beautiful cathedral, the gorgeous music, and the fanfare.  I tried to envision what it would take, however, to find Charles remotely attractive, his prince-hood aside.
Diana wasn’t much older than I was at that time, yet being married was the last thing on my mind.  I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to get married in front of the entire world to a man older than I and from a very different station in life.
Well, we all know how it ended and yes, I was one of those people who were truly heartbroken when I found out that Princess Diana had died tragically in a car accident.  For many women of my generation, she held a special place in our hearts.  She was buried on the same day that my sister’s bridal shower was to take place and I remember setting the tables at the restaurant where it was held, crying as a television in the background showed her funeral, her sons walking behind her casket.
I have a 17-year-old now and not once have I heard her mention the impending nuptials of Diana’s son, William, and the lovely Kate Middleton, a woman older, and probably a little wiser, than her late mother-in-law was before her own wedding.  What was it about the royal wedding of thirty years ago that captured so many hearts?  And what is it about this one that seems so predictable and not all that special? 
It’s hard to know.  I suspect that with the media being what it is today, we know a lot about what’s to come.  We are also going to witness the marriage of two people who have been living together for a while and who seem like a very stable, familiar kind of couple, a couple we could know.  There’s not a lot of mystery here like there was thirty years ago.  We’ve watched Will grow up and we’ve charted his relationship with Kate, having been with him almost every step of the way.  Yes, there may come a time when he could be king, but a lot of things would have to happen first.
I think maybe, too, the bloom is off the royal rose.  In the last thirty years, we’ve witnessed weddings, divorces, infidelities, scandals, and a lot of heartache.  The mystery and romance of a royal wedding just doesn’t exist anymore; we’re far too jaded.  We know them too well.  We know that in a lot of ways, many of them are just like us.
I’ll still be setting my alarm on April 29th to watch the royal wedding, however.  What about you?
Maggie Barbieri
7 replies
  1. Maria Geraci
    Maria Geraci says:

    Definitely! I too, am a bit obsessed with the upcoming wedding. I remember Di and Charles's wedding and feeling both excited and a bit sad for her. I really think her youth and inexperience was taken advantage of.

    Kate, on the other hand, seems much more prepared for the onslaught ahead. Hopely, she and Will will have the happily-ever-after his mother didn't.

  2. The Stiletto Gang
    The Stiletto Gang says:

    I may not watch it as obssessively as I did Charles and Diana, but I definitely can't wait to see the gown.

    I collect teacups and have a small "royal" collection. Several of the current Queen Elizabeth, but also the commemorative teacup that was issued when Charles and Diana were married. I use the teacups when we have guests and folks enjoy choosing the pattern they like — but rarely opt for the C/D one. Bad karma I suspect.


  3. Vicky Polito
    Vicky Polito says:

    Well, the bud never bloomed on the royal rose for me, but I too remember how sad it was when that young woman Diana, with so much potential and so willing to do some good in her world, died so needlessly.

    I was thinking it before your last graph, Mags: the bloom is off the rose. I think there is also a weariness and even intolerance of things royal around the globe. Monarchies just seem pretty silly and unwanted these days, at least more so than they used to.

    And, maybe because Prince William is one of two royal sons we may see get married in fairly short order it's less special? Or maybe people still have a bit of sorrow in their hearts and minds over Diana and so they aren't going to invest emotionally as much?

    The betrothed do seem like nice people and hopefully their day will be fun and happy even if they are pretty much forced to share it so widely.

    I've said it often and now again: it's very smart to never confuse your wedding with your marriage.

  4. Susan McBride
    Susan McBride says:

    I didn't watch the first royal wedding, but I remember being in Chautauqua where we had bad reception on our single antennaed TV. I think my mother went to my grandmother's cottage to watch it. I've never been much obsessed with the Royals, but I did like Di very much. She seemed like a very good–if not lost–soul whose heart was broken by the icky Charles. Even if she never found true love, she sure had a generous heart and spirit. William seems much like her. I hope he and Kate live happily ever after. I can't imagine anything worse than living under a microscope.

  5. Laura Spinella
    Laura Spinella says:

    I also remember the Charles & Diana nuptials, as well as thinking, "I just don't see it… He's not even good looking." It does seem lost on this generation, or maybe the same as my reaction to my mother's era of big band music, which I could never embrace. It's passe and the world has moved on. Some royal wedding news came on the TV the othe day and my kids moaned, "Ugh, not this again!" Considering Diana's fate, I think a little disinterest isn't a bad thing.

  6. Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith
    Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith says:

    I doubt seriously I'll watch, have enough problems managing to go to the important events in my family members' lives. Have 2 high school graduations coming, a granddaughter and great grandson, and a great-granddaughter's graduation from middle school. They are far more important to me then a royal wedding.


  7. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I also got up at 5 a.m. to watch the wedding – it was a true-life fairy-tale. I won't be doing it again, but back then, it was special!

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