Today is the Royal Wedding. It’s pretty amusing to see how it’s completely taken over American television. I’m switching around channels this morning, and it’s all about the wedding. Kelly Ripa on Regis and Kelly Live is wearing a bunch of feathers on her head that she calls a “fascinator,” competing with some of the amazing hats at the ceremony. I planned on getting up in the middle of the night to watch some of the wedding live, but exhaustion won out. There’s so much coverage of the highlights, I’m not worried about what I missed. I mostly want to see footage of Prince Edward, but so far I haven’t spotted him.
I was seven the first time my family visited London. My uncle, Dennis Severs, was a young law student there, and he was the best tour guide we could have. One evening, he took us to Buckingham Palace in a light rain. He was very secretive, refusing to tell us why we were there. The sidewalk in front of the Palace was almost deserted. Soon, a black car drove slowly through the gate. The Queen was in the back seat, and she gave us the famous royal wave.
I visited my uncle again when I was sixteen. It was my first time traveling to London alone, and I was pretty pathetic. It didn’t help that I had mono! The trip turned around for me when Dennis took me to watch the royal procession for the Queen Mother’s 80th birthday. He found us a brilliant spot on the route, right in front and only a few yards from the cars and carriages. I had broken my glasses, having stepped on them as I got out of the bathtub, so I was holding them onto my face as the royal family rode by. Prince Edward looked in my direction, smiled, and waved. I was lovestruck. I was charmed by his braces, but my uncle didn’t believe me. He said, “The Royal Family does NOT wear braces!” It took me ages to find a photograph of Prince Edward that confirmed my observation. I spent the rest of my trip buying postcards and photo books of the young prince. I sent him a birthday card that year, and I got a fancy formal letter from Buckingham Palace thanking me. I framed it and hung it on my wall.
The following summer Prince Charles married Lady Diana. When I asked my father if I could go back to London, he told me he didn’t want to hear one more word about it. Looking back, I understand that he was jealous of the spell my uncle had over me. It was a complicated case of sibling rivalry, and I was caught in the middle. I was really hurt, though, and it kind of spoiled the wedding for me. Still, like the rest of world, I was caught up in the pomp and circumstance of it all. Diana was so young and pretty, but I was looking behind the royal couple trying to find Prince Edward.
I was so proud of Prince Edward when he had the courage to break family tradition, leaving the military to find his own way. I was delighted when he started working in theatre! My heart broke just a tiny bit when he got married. I’ll bet there are lots of young women feeling the same way today as they watch Prince William get married.
In 1988, I went to Trooping the Colours. This time I didn’t go with my uncle, so I experienced the event without his special magic. I was squashed in the crowd several rows back from the barricade. It wasn’t pleasant. This event was the only time I saw Princess Diana. Like most people, I remember exactly where I was when I heard about her tragic death. I was so angry about the paparazzi and the role they played in her accident. I hoped some good would come out it, that the press would stop hounding public figures so remorselessly. Nothing has changed, and the paparazzi are even worse now. Let’s hope William and Kate are allowed some privacy and peace.
I keep crying as I watch footage of the wedding today, and I know it’s because of all these memories of my uncle. He introduced me to the romance, the pomp, and the history of all things British. He died in 1999, and I miss him.
Congratulations to Prince William and his lovely bride!