My First Royal Wedding

April 17, 2011 at 12:17 pm (Faery tales, Life, Memoir) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Does every little girl dream of becoming a princess? No. I did not. It seemed to me that being a princess was not very fun; it consisted off sitting around a lot, getting your picture taken by everyone and being pretty. Plus, if you weren’t born a princess you spent your childhood locked in a tower or having to do all the housework for an ungrateful family. Neither option seemed like a lot of fun. I wanted to be Annie Oakley not Princess Anne.

Does every little girl dream of becoming a fairy princess; emphasis on the faery? Again, mostly no. The older I get the more I am intrigued by the difference between fairy and faery.  The true fey world, in my mind, is a little dark and scary, like Charles De Lint‘s Newford tends to be.

I’d rather live in Newford than Disneyland.

Why all this talk about princesses? Well, you’d have to be totally disconnected from any media or my big sister not to know that there is an upcoming Royal Wedding this month.

Wills and Kate are tying the knot and according to estimates, anywhere from one to three billion people world-wide may watch the spectacle on television. I will probably not be one of them as I have to work that weekend. I will watch highlights, I will purchase People the week after and I will wish the young couple well even though I’m ambivalent about the monarchy.  My monarchy, being Canadian I do feel a certain possessiveness towards them.

I was thirteen the winter that I witnessed my first Royal Wedding spectacle. Princess Anne married Captain Mark Phillips on November 14, 1973. The wedding was televised and was seen by a television audience estimated at 500 million viewers. A piffle considering how many are estimated to watch Prince William marry Kate.

But I was one of those in the television audience. I shouldn’t have been. I grew up poor and though we had just moved into a bigger rental house, I did not have the access to the media that a good portion of the North American audience now takes for granted. We had one television set and two channels, neither of which was showing the royal wedding in its entirety.

Not even the CBC felt the marriage of the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth was important enough to interrupt the day’s schedule of regular television. It was a Wednesday, what else more important could have been going on?

The wedding was on cable, a new concept in television. We could not afford cable. Thankfully, the neighbours could.

We had just moved a month or two before the royal wedding. Across the street from us lived the high school principal, his wife and their six kids. They had five boys and a very young daughter. Their oldest boy was in my class. Their young daughter liked to cross the street and sit with me on the front step and we would blow bubbles. She was three or so.

They were very catholic. It was a small town. Though we knew the family before we moved we had not interacted much as they were Catholic and we were Lutheran. After we moved, my mom and the principal’s wife became part of a circle of friends who celebrated life changing events together and though the circle is smaller they are still friends.

To condense this long saga to something more manageable; we were invited to their house to watch the wedding that Wednesday evening after supper. Only my mother and I went to join up with the principal’s wife and their young daughter. None of the boys/men were interested in watching this historical event. Imagine that!

I remember sitting on the rug, holding an enchanted, starry eyed young lady in my lap only half-listening to my mom and the principal’s wife chatting about the wedding.

The young princess was just 23 and looked beautiful and regal in an embroidered Tudor-style dress with a high collar and medieval sleeves. Her bridesmaid was her nine-year-old cousin, Lady Sarah-Armstrong Jones, while her youngest brother, nine-year-old Prince Edward, was her pageboy. My grandparents had in their home a family portrait of King George VI, Queen Elizabeth (who I knew as the Queen mom) and the young princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. Lady Sarah-Armstrong Jones was Princess Margaret’s daughter. This portrait hung over my grandparent’s couch for as long as I could remember.

The royal wedding felt to me like every other family wedding I had ever attended.

Since then, I’ve watched part of Charles and Di’s wedding as well as Andrew and Sarahs’.  I’ll watch highlights of the current royal wedding this month as well. The spectacle of all this is very enchanting even to me who has no aspirations to the same.

As I said, I’m ambivalent about the monarchy and how it relates to my life.

Imagine what would happen if THE MONARCHY WAS DISMANTLED; read Sue Townsend’s novel The Queen and I for an amusing, witty look at what might happen in this situation and imagine how Wills and Kate’s life would be different without all of us watching.

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2 Comments

  1. The Queen | Solitary Spinster said,

    […] followed the Queen’s trails and tribulations. I was there for Anne’s wedding. The Queen’s 25th wedding anniversary family portrait taken in 1972 looks remarkably the same […]

  2. Happy Birthday Your Majesty | Solitary Spinster said,

    […] is my article about Princess Anne’s […]

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