In the Suburbs / Royal wedding redux
Updated 2:59 pm, Thursday, April 28, 2011
Thirty years ago -- without the benefits of streaming video, YouTube, Twitter or Facebook -- we watched a recap of the wedding of Lady Diana Spencer to Prince Charles Philip Arthur George in the comfort of a friend's apartment in Reading, Pa.
It was July 29, 1981, and what a celebration it was. The entire UK was celebrating with the monarchy, and all was right with the world.
The pomp was absolutely delicious, and we savored every ooh and ah as we watched the network coverage. Who knew of continuous, real-time coverage in those days?
For the wedding of the heir to the British throne, we had dressed in shorts and T-shirts, befitting the sweltering July temperatures in Pennsylvania. And we dined on fast food while some 3,000 guests -- poured into their stuffy outfits with the women in an array of hats with probably every color in the universe -- watched the ceremony and then left for a huge reception.
Lady Diana arrived from Clarence House, a short distance from St. Paul's Cathedral, in a glass coach where she was barely visible on our television screen until the breathtaking moment when she stepped out of the carriage and began the first of her long walks toward the hoped-for monarchy of England.
My Google description told me that Lady Di's (that's how many referred to her then) dress of ivory taffeta and old lace was beyond description and the 25-foot train draped down the steps of the cathedral as her father escorted her.
And that was as far as the fairy tale went. In one account, a reporter called Charles and Diana a bad match.
They had courted less than a year before announcing their engagement.
Some said that Charles was on the rebound from a relationship with a commoner, Camilla Parker Bowles.
The two had decided their future together was hopeless and each had decided to marry someone else.
Diana was much younger than Charles with a mind of her own and she actually opted to omit the word "obey" from the marriage vows. Many called their marriage more of a fractured fairy tale than a storybook romance.
It would later unravel for a host of reasons, and Diana would emerge from her divorce as a poised and beloved princess of the realm.
Yet that day, when they emerged with their families on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to face their subjects for the first time, Charles and Diana looked like the world would be their oyster.
They both looked so perfect. Who was even thinking of the future?
But enough of my pattering about what didn't work over the long haul for Charles and Diana. Let's focus on what did work -- their older son William and the nuptials he has already shared today with his radiant bride, Kate Middleton.
William watched the unraveling of his parents' marriage and decided to err on the side of caution.
His love affair with Kate, which began as a friendship at St. Andrews College in Scotland, percolated and blossomed and dragged for nine years until William decided that there could be no life without Kate in it.
A large percentage of UK media have pronounced that the couple truly are in love and could represent the necessary change for the British Monarchy. From all I have read, their lifestyle is simple and balanced, and what will work for them is that they will live near William's Air Force base in a small rented cottage. There will be no servants and no stuffiness. And my sense is that the Queen approves enough to give her blessing to this couple.
Other printed comments indicate that Kate and William will bring a fresh perspective to their work with charities and that Kate has had enough preparation to handle the rigorous scrutiny of the media and paparazzi who will continue to follow the royal couple.
I chuckled when I saw a piece in a magazine this week that indicated the media simply can't find anything to criticize other than the length of Kate and William's courtship.
During the long years of their courtship with no commitment, she was dubbed "Waitie Katie."
By the time anyone glances at this column in the printed version of the paper, the ceremony will likely have been over for hours and the bride and groom will probably be stepping onto the balcony of Buckingham Palace to face their adoring subjects.
I think the majority of the British population believes that this couple is going to propel a stuffy archaic monarchy right into the 21st Century.
Like his mother, William is his own person.
From what I've seen and read, he has melded her best qualities into his personality and his life.
He was cautious until he was sure that Kate was the one for him.
And Kate knows the story of the fractured fairy tale and how important it is for hers and William's fairy tale to play out in a whole different way. She truly does want to live happily ever after.
I haven't seen the dress, but I understand it will be modest and reveal very little flesh. I haven't seen the cake, but I understand it is to be fruit filled and that a baker is preparing a second cake with William's favorite ingredients.
There will be no gifts -- all guests are requested to contribute to one of Kate and William's favorite charities.
But I know that the event will be regal in its own way.
I'm not sure I will have awakened early enough to watch the ceremony at the crack of dawn.
But I know millions of others did and are enjoying an amazing celebration in real time. They'll be right there, celebrating with the royals and British subjects.
Thirty years ago, we thought the fairy tale was beginning. Today, we know that it truly has.
Steven Gaynes' "In the Suburbs" appears each Friday. He can be reached at email@example.com