Thursday, April 28, 2011

What's With the Royal Wedding? ** EDITED **

I was just watching one of the myriad shows on the upcoming nuptials of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.  My son rolled his eyes and said, “I don’t get all the hubbub over the royal wedding.”  Well, for starters, you’re a BOY and BOYS just don’t get it.  It’s a GIRL thing.  I sarcastically replied, “I don’t get all the hubbub over video gaming.”  He nodded and said, “Point taken.”  Live and let live, my dear.

There are a lot of Americans who don’t get it either.  There is so much bad news these days: jobs, gas prices, medical care, wars … why the heck would we care about a foreign royal wedding, on which is being spent millions and millions of pounds which could be better spent to help the unemployed and homeless?  I submit, is it any sillier than people demanding that the President of the United States show his birth certificate to prove that he is qualified to hold his office?  (I feel my adrenaline starting to surge, so I will leave that circus for another post). 

We first landed in England in the summer of 1970.  We got to our hotel (The Churchill) and all three of us girls were hit hard with jet lag.  We begged our mom to let us have a nap, but she was bouncing all over the place, waving her arms and squealing, “We’re in LONDON!  You can’t SLEEP in LONDON!”  But after a few more agonized pleas, she agreed to let us sleep for TWO HOURS.  ONLY TWO HOURS!! 

I woke up, out in the hall.  I was prone to sleepwalking back in those days, much to my dismay.  The problem now was that I had no idea what room we were in.  My mom and sisters were still snoozing soundly, and apparently hadn’t even heard me leave.  I was disoriented and scared, not knowing which way to go.  The tears came quickly. A kindly chambermaid noticed my plight, and offered her help.  She went all the way down the hall, unlocking each door one by one, until we finally found our room. 

That afternoon, mom hired a car to take us on a sightseeing tour.  It was pouring down rain (go figure!) as we drove by the Tower of London, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.  Somewhere along the way, we got a puncture* and were herded into a small coffee shop while the driver got it fixed.  I’ll never forget the wet smell of that place, with the commingled fragrance of teas, coffees and pastries.  During our two years in Brussels, we went back to London a lot. 

Mom and I went back to England the summer of 1977, to stay with a British friend, Judith, whom we had met in Manila.  Through her connections we got tickets to Wimbledon, and access to “Centre Court” where England’s Virginia Wade played against Betty Stove of the Netherlands.  (Wade won that year).  In the crowd milling around the outer courts, I brushed up against John McEnroe, back in the day when he sported a huge frizzy afro and a headband. 

1977 was the year of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.  Judith, who had a friend in the British Foreign Office, got us seats to watch the Trooping of the Color.  We could see the Queen reviewing her regiment on horseback, although from our vantage point in the Admiralty Extension building, she was about the size of a fingernail.  We were privileged to use the Queen’s toilet paper, which is about the same consistency as sandpaper, but elegantly imprinted with the crown. 

I spent the summer after high school in graduation living with Judith as the nanny for her two children.  I was completely at home on the Underground or on a double-decker bus, and negotiated my way through the city like a native.  I even had a summer romance with a dishy British guy named Patrick (of course!).  He drove an orange MG Midget convertible.  Swept off my feet much?   

I adore all things English, the crooked little houses, the thatched roofs, the pageantry, the quirky sense of humor (Monty Python is ingrained into my DNA).  I love how they can swear without making it sound obscene.  I love their silly tabloids, which put the National Enquirer to shame.   I love how they call the Queen “Brenda” and scoff at the silliness of all that royal stuff, but deep down, I know they love and cherish her.  Judith makes jokes about “Brenda” all the time, but she proudly relates how she actually met her twice.  I got up in 1981 at 4 a.m. to watch Charles and Diana’s wedding, and sat sobbing in a heap on the floor watching her funeral in 1997.  I will be up tomorrow morning to watch William and Kate marry.  Call me silly, but that’s just the way it is.  Sue me.

So why all of "my" hubbub over the royal wedding, you ask?  It’s because I am a Brit by osmosis.  And frankly, I just can’t wait to see the dress. 


Hi yall, I'm one of the British kids that Liz nannied for back in 1977 (!!!) (FYI she was extremely irresponsible and in her bid to have a summer romance with the suave and sophisticated Patrick Holman, bundled me and my brother up into the boot (trunk) of a car and took us to a party. I still can't listen to Dancing Queen without being taken back to the 4 year old me trying to get to sleep in a strange house whilst the grown-ups partied downstairs to the thumping disco beats of ABBA - God only knows where my mother was!) 

Anyway, back in 1981 I was a 7 year old primary school child who was completely swept away with the romance of Charles and Di. As I grew up I began to realise that the British Royal family are an outdated, anachronistic drain on our economy. However, I still cried when Diana died and felt a real loss when she was no longer the daily cover story of our tabloid press. When William and Kate got engaged I rejoiced when the public holiday was announced, but thought that I would show no more interest in it than that. However, as the day has approached I have found myself getting more and more excited and have even invested in some paraphernalia (see my profile pic). 

I am now a primary school teacher myself and have spent this short week at school trying my best to recreate my 1981 Royal Wedding experience for my class. This week we have been making our own commemorative plates, writing wedding lists, practising our names on copies of the invitation (they are 4/5 year olds), and today we have reenacted the wedding, with two small children dressed in a wedding dress and a soldier's costume and Pomp and Circumstance playing in the background. We waved flags, put up Union Jack bunting and I asked my Head Teacher to judge the commemorative plates and gave a really crappy and cheap commemorative plate as a prize. As many of us girls do, I love a good wedding, but I am totally surprised at how I have been swept along in the national hysteria linked to tomorrow. I am going to be up early to drive to another city so I can watch it with some girlfriends and marvel at the tree lined aisle in the Abbey (yes, really, if tabloid news reports are correct). The strangest thing about it is that I'm not even trying to hide my fascination as some kind of guilty pleasure - it is out there for all to see... What is it about the Brits and the Royal family???? -- CLARE PRICE

*flat tire

1 comment:

Just me said...

I know I'm in a minority, but thought I'd put my voice out there anyway - I'm a girl, and I'm English, but I wasn't at all excited for the wedding. I watched it, and congratulations to them and everything, and yes, it was really lovely, but I don't actually know them and I do share the (possibly slightly cynical) view that it was too much money spent and too hyped up.

But I love how much you love English things! Although I've never heard the Queen referred to as Brenda..?!