Published April 27, 2011
Main Line Media
Well, I must confess that I do not plan to set my alarm for 4 a.m. tomorrow morning in order to watch the royal wedding. I mean, I have been trying to understand what all the fuss is about. So Prince William is going to marry his longtime live-in girl friend, Catherine (Kate) Middleton. I wish them well.
And I realize that a British wedding means lots of money for entrepreneurs who are selling the royal couple’s images on everything from mugs to airsick bags. The television stations, which have been hurting because of the loss of advertising revenue as automobile manufacturers succumbed to the recession, and banks either merged or went out of business, and home builders canceled plans for new developments, have been hawking their own versions of William and Kate specials.
Why does every local TV station feel the need to send a local reporter to London? None of them will have any better view of the Westminster Abbey nuptials than viewers in America in front of a giant TV screen. But there seems to be an unquenchable thirst for news of the royal wedding gown, what someone wears to a royal wedding, how the royal florist will use old and new flowers, and which tiara Queen Elizabeth will allow her new daughter-in-law to wear for the ceremony.
It’s not that I don’t wish this young couple good luck and health and happiness. It’s just that the odds are stacked against them. The Windsor family’s history is littered with unhappy marriages and many divorces. And scandal. And tragedy.
Have Americans ever really forgiven Queen Elizabeth for her callousness in the wake of Princess Diana’s car crash in Paris with her lover? Some pretty terrific films, for movie theaters and for television screens, have been made, illustrating the lengths to which Prime Minister Tony Blair had to go in order to get Queenie to relent and allow the British people to mourn their beloved Diana.
When you look at wedding photos of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, with that ridiculous gown she was forced to wear, practically smothering her in yards and yards and yards of fabric and the world’s longest train, you can only surmise that Diana was the Ugly Duckling who was probably selected for Charles by the Privy Council vote, as she seemed to be the last virgin left in the United Kingdom.
How quaint that a requirement to marry into the royal family used to be that the young lady had to be a virgin. Hmmmm… King Henry VIII must have chuckled for centuries about that one.
So at least Kate Middleton did not have to offer up proof in that department, as she and William have lived together for years now.
And Kate is already a stunning fashion-model-type young woman. It took Princess Diana years to blossom into a gorgeous swan, sought after by fashion designers who were eager to have her be seen in public in their creations.
I find it interesting that Kate’s dark long hair makes her the opposite of Diana’s clipped blond locks. And she certainly is a lot more educated than Diana had been when she walked down that mile-long aisle in front of millions of spectators.
You have to admire William for his having chosen his mother’s sapphire and diamond ring as the engagement ring he offered to his fiancée. Queenie could not have been happy about that, as she probably has never recovered from the public-relations beating she took when she treated Prince Charles’ divorced wife, the mother of her grandchildren, so badly.
And we all still remember that amazing visual of the mountains of flowers and mementos, dedicated to Diana right after her death, piling up outside the palace. The palpable grief of the British public for a woman who had been cast out of the royal family but who had gone on to earn the respect of much of the world because of her self-enlightenment and efforts to save the world, finally forced Queenie out of her palace to commiserate with her subjects.
I wonder if Queenie welcomed Camilla, the adulteress, warmly? After all, she did give permission for Charles to marry his longtime mistress, the bane of Diana’s existence. I can’t help it: I have never felt anything but resentment and scorn for Camilla, especially since someone leaked Charles’ sickening “romantic” notes to her, even as he and Diana were busy begetting future heirs to the throne of England.
With all the revolutions going on against monarchies and dictatorships in the Middle East and North Africa, it seems ironic that Great Britain should still tolerate supporting people who soak up money, jewels, castles, lands and a tremendous number of paid retainers, all by the so-called divine right of kings. I mean, they still have ladies-in-waiting, for heaven’s sake!
Many years ago, on my first trip to Europe, I took my entire first year’s teaching salary, $4,200, and took my then-husband and me for a three-week grand tour. Along the way we happened to meet a wonderful older British couple and were friendly with them for years. Maybe it was because they happened to be Jewish, but they never considered Elizabeth their queen. She was just a quaint vestige of what had once been Britannia Ruling the Ocean. And they held mild resentment toward the royal family for soaking up so much of the British economy for their own self-indulgence.
The projection this time around for the royal wedding is that one billion people will be watching. I wonder if the TV stations have sold all their advertising minutes at a premium price? Every fashion house will have designers standing by with pen, paper and probably CAD/CAM to whip out copies of Kate’s wedding dress the minute it is viewed on television. Probably by Saturday morning, copies will be available in department stores, discount stores and high-end boutiques, so that young women who wish to see themselves as “princesses” can walk down their own aisle with their fairy-tale-fashioned wedding gown. So be it.
Bonnie Squires writes weekly for Main Line Media news and can be reached at www.bonniesquires.com. She hosts the weekly “Bonnie’s Beat” interview show on Radnor Studio 21.