Why I’ll Watch the Royal Wedding

For the last few weeks I’ve changed the channel rapidly whenever talk of the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton came on the news, commercials, or shows that I watch regularly.  It seemed that from the very first moment I had had too much.  Yes, I’ve seen how similarly Kate and Diana dressed in their red frocks with their black belts.  No, I did not realize that Kate won’t throw her bouquet, but will instead place it at the memorial to the unknown soldiers.  My, I had no idea that the gown of Diana’s train was such a bother to that poor thirteen year old bridesmaid.

No more!

But the fact is…I don’t think I can help but watch.

The reason is that in the summer of 1997, I moved to London to study abroad for one semester…and on the first morning of my homestay, I woke up to find the house in tears. My host mother was sitting on the couch sobbing, tissues wadded up around her, the phone in her hand.  Her teenage daughter was absolutely beside herself, her younger children playing silently on the floor.  All I could make out when I entered the room was, “Diana’s dead.  She’s dead.  She’s gone.” My jet-lagged mind swirled…was this some relative they had mentioned the night before?  Perhaps a pet I didn’t notice when I was moving my luggage into the front room?  And then I glanced at the television, the images of Paris, the headlines.  Princess Diana had been a car accident the night before and died.

If you want to get to know a country quickly, live there in a time of either immense triumph or profound mourning.  Never before had I seen such a collective grief, an overwhelming sadness.  The people – the entire country – had in one profound moment had their collective hearts broken.  I wandered the streets taking pictures of…

…the winding line of people waiting to sign the condolence books outside of Harrods…

…scores of people five and six rows deep staring at a sea of flowers outside Kensington Palace…

…even piles of flowers weeks later in Edinburgh, Scotland.

After awhile, London became my home and not the site of memorials and mourning.  The pomp and circumstance that surrounds grieving was replaced with celebrations.  I had the pleasure of witnessing London at its finest with parades through her incredibly grand streets…

…royal carriages carrying important people…

Over the months, the city became my home.  There was the townhouse where I lived…

my 102 bus…

…my beautiful city.

But of all of the images that are burned in my memory from that time, there is none quite so moving as this:

A boy saying goodbye to his mother.

So as much as I’ve enjoyed mocking the American newscasters trying to pull off the floppy hat look or Anderson Cooper asking what a frock is or Barbara Walters covering her 5,214th royal event, the truth is…

Tomorrow I’ll be watching my city, and I’ll be celebrating with them.

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  • I’ll forgive you this one time…your reasons are understandable. But when you’re yawning at noon, don’t think I won’t mock you relentlessly. 😉

  • There is truly something about England and London in particular that draws me to it. I have always read about and studied the city, history and culture. When I finally visited it was as if I had come home. For me it is a magical place, and one that I hope to visit at least once more before I die. And now it’s 9:26 and I had better get to sleep so I can get up in the morning to watch it with you!!

  • I wasn’t interested in the Royal wedding but your post is pretty convincing! It’s true it is making history! Thank you for this!

  • Crying so much. That last image just killed me.

  • I’m staying up to watch! It’s just such a sweet story and a day of happiness and celebration. I watched the wedding of Charles and Diana, how could I miss this one??!!

  • Thanks for sharing. Love the images and your take on life in London. Like others, I watched Di’s & Charles’ wedding with my mom – we made memories. I cried for days straight about Diana’s death, she was only a few years older than I and I couldn’t imagine parting with my children the way she had to with her sons. We can only hope that she’ll be with her sons again tomorrow in more ways than just through her engagement ring now sitting on the future queen’s third finger.

  • i don’t blame you at all! i remember my mother waking me up to watch prince charles & diana’s wedding and this morning as i watched prince william i couldn’t help feeling melancholy at his mother’s absence.

  • I watched the original Charles & Di wedding with my mom and sister. I remember well sitting on the floor watching it on our console TV.

    More than that, I remember I was in Charleston with my mother in 1997. I’ll never forget where exactly I was when I found out about Princess Di. It was sad and unbelievable. I think there’s been a dark cloud over royalty ever since. And this royal wedding seemed like a much needed time of renewal.

  • Yes. I totally get what you are saying. The country needed this.

    I watched and it was beautiful. Although I would have to say not quite as amazing as I thought Diana’s wedding was but as child watching that wedding, it seemed so magical.

    Your pictures are great!!

  • The night of the car crash I was flipping channels at my home. The crawler caught my eye. I hoped that she would survive. I stayed up late to watch the news. The next morning I was exhausted but had to get up as I had an 18-minth-old. I continued watching the news for days.

    The circumstances of her crash still bother me. Why was her driver drinking? Why didn’t she have her seatbelt on? No amount of questions would bring her back.

    Was there anything sadder than the card to “Mummy” placed on the top of the coffin? I cried at the sight of those boys so stoic.

    I was telling my kids yesterday that I would never wait beside the road to watch a Royal wedding party drive by, but had I been in England in 97 I would have traveled to London to pay my respects to Diana.