We, the British, are just so extraordinarily good at pomp. I looked at the small computer screen in the middle of the night and what I saw took my breath away. Why was I surprised? Because, when it comes to state theatre, we are so consistently awesome. The costumes, the characters, the music, the fanfare, the subtle variations on ancient themes. The great processions inside and out Westminster Abbey of meticulously timed choir boys, guards, clergy, government and the Royal Family.
It was interesting to watch the inexperienced Duchess of Cornwall, waiting in the nave, not slip effortlessly into line as her husband obviously expected. She was unsure of where and how to stand as they waited with The Queen before they walked down the aisle.
Both William and Harry looked so sweet in their ill-fitting uniforms and cheerful grins but one couldn’t stop ones self from remembering them with their mother. The affection she had for them.
This was such a different wedding from that of their parents.
Miss Middleton, when she arrived, with her severe make-up looked like the daughter of the evil queen from Snow White. In spite of the make-up I really loved the Sarah Burton designed dress, it reminded me of Grace Kelly’s and Princess Margaret’s. I am sure it looked exquisite off the television. I thought the Cartier tiara (made in 1936 and purchased by King George VI for his wife Queen Elizabeth) could have been bigger but if you are not used to diamond tiaras one might opt for a humble stack rather than a glittering pile.
The vows brought a tear to my wrinkled eye.
What was Charles thinking as they read the vows? Was he thinking about Diana? Does he ever? His own vows read so cynically thirty years before. Knowing that he would never keep them.
Princes Charles and Andrew, Princess Anne had all made those vows before the British public and all had failed to keep them. Indeed, the rancid hag Camilla had been explicit in keeping Charles from ever honouring his vows to Diana. As this motley crew of vow breakers marched down the aisle only The Queen and Prince Phillip had kept up the very royal appearance of monogomy…even though they both have well-known romantic skeletons in their armoires.
The Queen’s affection for her now deceased horse trainer Lord Porchester is very well known..some say that her last two children are his children not Prince Phillip’s.
The American commentator on CNN was dumbfounded that the bells that pealed before and after the service were pulled by real live campanologists.
When I first heard that Diana, Princess of Wales was dead (Joe called me from NYC) my first tearful thought was for those two poor boys.
Seeing William’s face with Diana so evidently in his smile, his complexion and his demeanour. The warmth and evident love he showed his bride at the altar. I was moved to remember her.
Like so many people I wondered if she had lived, what Diana would have worn, who she would have arrived with. Her new husband maybe? Children? I wondered what she would have made of William’s decision to marry Catherine and I concluded that she would have been very happy indeed.
Although she paid with her life, Diana’s loving influence over her sons bore fruit for all to see, not only for the monarchy but for our nation.
The ring did not fit but together they made it work. A good metaphor. This relationship may very well have ‘legs’ as they say here in Hollywood.
There was something deliciously bucolic about the interior decoration of the Abbey. The trees, the green and white foliage. They had somehow redressed this huge Abbey as a local church. The scale of the event that was very, very human.
As much as I loved watching two young people get married I was also aware that many modern British folk, contemporaries of mine, loathe the idea that this wedding cost them so much and when pressed, err toward the idea of a republic.
The same people believe that come the death of The Queen ‘things will change’. I very much doubt it. This inherited power/money is hard to re-imagine for those who inherit it.
There was a moment when The Queen, The Duchess of Cornwall and Carole Middleton were standing together outside Westminster Abbey chatting. Carole’s leg was buckled into a static curtsy, a look of bewilderment on her face. The daughter of working class labourers and miners from Northern England. This woman is perhaps the most perfect example of how Britain is changing and how our attitude to class is subtly evolving to be perhaps more inclusive rather than overtly exclusive.
Carole’s buckled leg betrayed her class shame. Knowing inherently that she had no right to be there, or rather…as her class rights had been originally written.
Only the Queen has the power to suck the confidence out of whom ever of her subjects she is speaking, leaving one a mere husk. Quaking. I was on Smith’s Polo Lawn in 1984, stamping divots after the first chukka, the first time I met her. I was perplexed that she was wearing dark glasses, that her suspenders were visible through her skirt. To then be introduced (even if I had been Lord Rendlesham for a few years) nothing could have ever prepared me to meet my Monarch.
I was uncharacteristically speechless.
The Queen is neither ego centric nor ruthless, she doesn’t need to be either. She is known to be grumpy, obsessed with punctuality and desirous of simple pleasures.
I listened intently to the service, the words that are used during the matrimonial agreement before God. It was very heterosexual. A man and a woman wedded so that they may have children etc.
I listened closely to those words and wondered how they might apply to me…me and another man.
Then, foolishly I looked at Twitter and there was the reprehensible Perez Hilton checking out the boys at the wedding and tweeting lewd, inappropriate comments about Katherine’s brother. Even if he was gay Perez, would he consider being ‘snatched’ by a fat ugly monster like you?
Then I check Facebook and my gay friends are also making lewd comments…objectifying Harry and Katherine’s brother. It made me sad.
How do we square our childish behaviour with our desire to be taken seriously enough to demand marriage? A fairy tale marriage?
P.S. My dear friend Tara Palmer-Tomkinson looked amazing.