Friday, April 29, 2011

Toasting Royalty

I woke up feeling sick to my stomach in the middle of the night. After about an hour of tossing and turning, I accepted that I wasn't going to fall back to sleep anytime soon.

Rather than staring at the ceiling, at least there was something fun to watch on television. You might have heard something about it -- the Royal Wedding?

I'm not one of those people around the world who planned pre-dawn tea parties or put bottles of bubbly on ice to celebrate. I didn't order a replica of the engagement ring or a set of tea cups with the couples' photo. Had I been feeling okay, I would have turned on the television and watched while I got ready for the day and then gone off to work, knowing full well that I wasn't really missing anything. The news stations would air all the important shots again and again and again. Then again.

Since I was sick, I made a cup of tea (I drink tea anyway, so this was not a special tribute to England), curled up in my comfy chair and got totally sucked into the event. I swear, when it comes to days like today, nobody arranges an event this size like the British royal family. The beautiful bride, handsome groom and their families arriving in vintage luxury automobiles, polished to the highest gloss. Uniformed calvary officers on matching black horses. Century old carriages. The world's most famous abbey. Kings, queens, princes, princesses, "lesser" royals, nobles, famous soccer players, and pub owners seated as guests. (I love that William and Kate invited the owner of their favorite pub.) Military flyovers and tens of thousands of people gentilly and calmly collected along the motor routes and outside the palace waiting for the first public kiss as man and wife.

All planned and pulled off with exquisite timing. Seriously, ABC News posted the schedule of events. Peoples' departures and arrivals were set to the minute. I imagine that a squadron of royal timekeepers synchronized their watches before departing to the various palaces and hotels and then communicated via cell phones to make sure the right prince got into the right car at precisely the right time.

No worry about traffic tie-ups with the roads cleared along the route. Those Bentleys and Rolls arrived at Westminster exactly when expected.

As far as I saw, nobody tripped getting out of their cars either. Nobody lost an eye to the trimmings on one of those amazing hats.

Seriously. Nobody does hats like British women. For the most part they were spectacular, although some (Princess Beatrice) were odd. Princess Michael of Kent's hat was so huge, that the people in back of her watched the proceedings on their iPhones.

The newscasters constantly referred to the groom and his brother as either the princes or the boys. Boys, as if they haven't completely grown up from the adorable babies and toddlers we cooed over when they were born. When they stepped from their car in their gorgeous dress uniforms, all I saw were handsome young men.

Everybody eagerly awaited the first glimpse of the bride's dress. We caught a flash as she slipped into the Rolls Royce, and then feasted our eyes on her from at least the bodice up. Someone retro-fitted the car so that the back window extended up to half the roof giving us a nice clear view through the bullet-proof glass.

Lace bodice and sleeves, a "discreetly" plunging neckline, delicate veil held in place by a diamond tiara. Teardrop-shapped earrings, set with diamonds, glittered behind the veil. Good Lord, she looked beautiful - and considering the enormity of the day, not the least bit terrified.

As soon as she arrived at the abbey and gracefully exited the car, you could practically hear bridal shops around the world moving lace-topped dresses into their window displays and placing them at the forefront of the racks.

The long walk down the aisle, the grin from Prince Harry when he peeked over his shoulder at the bride's approach and then turned to tell his brother what he'd seen. . . . Steady voices for the vows, eyes glowing. Married in front of the world, the two of them frequently smiled at each other, creating some personal connection between them. Every once in awhile, Kate glanced around as if she wanted to take it all in.

The departure into an open landau, poised, smiling and waving to the throngs of people cheering their journey. The news services' lip-readers report that at one point Kate turned to William and said, "I'm so happy." The new Duchess of Cambridge has learned protocol. Whenever Prince William saluted someone, Kate bowed her head in a gesture of respect. (Her first curtsy to her new grandmother-in-law was gracefully perfect.)

Okay, just typing that makes me think about how truly enormous the day was for this woman. Any bride's wedding is a big day, but nobody else was marrying a prince and future king. When she said "I will", she not only gained a husband, she gained a few titles and became a Duchess, a Countess and a Baroness. Technically, she's also now Princess William of Wales. I'm assuming that she's also Kate Windsor, but I bet nobody calls her that.

Only Kate, on this day, saw Her Monarch become her in-law. I wonder if she still has to call her "Your Majesty". I can't imagine her calling the Queen Grammy like William does, but then again, who knows what goes on within the family.

According to one of the Brit protocol explainers, from this day forward, people have to curtsy to Kate and call her Your Highness or ma'am. She now only curtsies to the Queen and Duchess Camilla, since the duchess's husband is actually next in line to the throne. Pretty mind-blowing, if you ask me. I imagine it will take some getting used to. It's not everyone who comes out on a balcony, waves, and then hears tens of thousands of people cheer when you turn and kiss your new husband.

I hope she handles it well. I hope that the public, and the media treats them well. I hope that they enjoy a long, happy, life together. They might be royalty, but at the end of the day they're a man and woman who married the people they love. They're every bit as deserving of happiness as the rest of us.

1 comment:

Skye said...

I watched part of this after I got up and I agree, it was sweet and beautiful and the people there were so excited about their royals. I loved Kate's dress and veil.

I hope that their love and their clear knowledge of each other keep them whole as royals. They have known each other so long. I also would be willing to bet that their children will be raised in a reasonable, loving household.

Good luck, William and Kate.