Yes, I confess, I’ve had this all day today, like most of us here in the UK. Why? I honestly don’t know. I’m not a dedicated Royal-watcher, and at my age I find cynicism wins out over romance much of the time. Yet I enjoyed The Wedding very much.
The marriage of Prince William and his Kate was a lovely joyous occasion, with spectacular displays of pageantry. The magnificence of Westminster Abbey with its ritual and music, the beautiful coaches pulled by superb horses, the fly-past of planes old and new…and all watched by huge cheering crowds on the streets of London and, it’s reckoned, hundreds of millions of people worldwide. It was magic.
It reminded me of our wedding in 1983. The cheering crowds, the royal carriages, the dashing horsemen…yes, they were all conspicuous by their absence in our case. But we did have something important in common with today’s bride and groom. We’d already been together for some years, so we knew what we were getting into, and that it was what we wanted.
After living and working in London for eight years, Richard and I decided to get married just before we moved two hundred miles north to take over our new business in the Yorkshire Dales. It just seemed like the right thing to do, even though we were incredibly busy, packing up our belongings for the move, and preparing to become shopkeepers, something we’d neither of us done before. So we hadn’t time or energy for an elaborate “do”. We didn’t want one anyway. We invited two of our closest friends to be our witnesses and spend the day with us, and our families, bless them, didn’t make too much fuss about being deprived of a Big Day. Richard’s parents in fact sent us the most beautiful bouquet of flowers, which was great because in the rush we’d both forgotten to buy any.
For the day itself we hired a white Rolls with a chauffeur, and felt like film stars as he whisked us first to the Registry Office, and then out of London to a lovely secluded spot in a meadow by the Thames, which Richard and I had seen many times before and always liked the look of. We picnicked on all our favourite things (I especially remember the smoked salmon and pink champagne – I don’t think we had a cake though,) and lazed there all afternoon watching the world go by, and waving in a lordly fashion to all the people in boats as they passed. They all waved back, perhaps thinking we were some sort of celebs, or maybe just envying us.
We were home by about six; our friends said good-bye, and we two shed our posh gear and reverted to our oldest clothes, so we could get back to clearing cupboards and packing tea-chests, because the move north was only four days away. It didn’t matter. We’d had a perfect wedding. However wonderful today’s newly-weds found their Big Day, and as I’ve said it was pretty special, they couldn’t have been any happier than we were on ours.
Good luck to you, Will and Kate. I’ll make a wish that, like us, you’ll still enjoy looking back on the occasion together in twenty-some years’ time, and you’ll still reckon you did the right thing.