Forget the fairy tale: Royal weddings then and now
Where were you when Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer married?
On the morning of July 29, 1981, I witnessed spectacular pomp and solemn ceremony on a small TV in an Omaha motel room. Our vacationing family was traveling from Colorado to Minnesota. I was 10 years old.
My dad must have found an extra reserve of patience that morning. I wanted to see it all—Diana’s gown, the horse-drawn carriages, the fairy tale. Minnesota had to wait. I was swept up into the excitement and hype. For months, the engagement had been trumpeted in the news and on every magazine cover. Lady Diana’s blue sapphire ring, her beauty, her youth, her destiny as future Queen captured my imagination.
The Holiday Western Best Days Johnson Inn faded away. I was an honored guest. I was a part of history. I loved the newly-married royal couple. Happily Ever After was a promise.
Back home, I had Charles and Diana paper dolls. Their paper clothes were copies of ensembles they wore in press conferences or at high-profile functions. If I dressed Diana in the black strapless gown, Charles wore his tuxedo.
They had a paper baby, the heir to the throne. It wasn’t labelled as a boy or a girl because there was no William, yet.
Now there is a William and a Kate. They will marry on April 29, 2011.
I found the dolls, a bit mangled from improper storage, several years ago. My oldest daughter had a lot of questions about my flat little childhood friends, especially Diana. Was she really a princess? Did she live in a palace?
At the time, I struggled with what to tell my daughter. Diana was a princess who lived in palace. She had two sons and she worked hard to help others, but she was often lonely and sad. Diana and Charles were divorced.
And then the woman once known as Shy Di died.
The coverage of William and Kate’s wedding is much more subdued than it was when Charles and Diana were the happy couple in love. There are no books of paper dolls to buy at our local grocery store. They aren’t on every magazine cover. One news outlet called the impending nuptials boring.
I don’t think the lack of coverage is because William and Kate are boring people.
My thought is that the coverage is more limited this time because people have learned a lesson. Also, Jersey Shore. It’s actually a high compliment these days to be considered boring.
In my mind, I play back the lovely images of Diana smiling, waving, seated next to her Prince. Those memories stand in stark contrast to late-night news reports of a car crash in a Parisian tunnel.
The fairy tale which seemed real and possible and even attainable in 1981 is marred by a bit of cynicism.
It’s also put into perspective by wisdom. I hope with everything that William and Kate have a long, happy marriage. It isn’t easy for anyone, even those who have never been paper dolls.