Friday, April 22, 2011

A Royal Wedding

Few historical events hold my attention like a royal wedding. I can remember the very first one I watched on a small scratchy black and white television. HRH Princess Margaret was married to photographer Antony Armstrong Jones. On May 6,1960 this was the first royal wedding ever broadcast on television and was widely viewed by millions of people around the world. I was immediately attracted to the pomp and ceremony and have never looked back. As a result of my interest in the royal family and the protocol surrounding important events, I have watched with great interest many such televised ceremonies including weddings, funerals, the opening of Parliament, and the Trooping of the Colour.

I have been asked a number of detailed questions surrounding this wedding and in my research, have discovered a number of fascinating bits of trivia as well as an alarming amount of misinformation. Hopefully I will reveal some of the former and not contribute further to the latter. I am fortunate to have a very well informed colleague, William Hanson, a tutor at The English Manner and regular social commentator on BBC Radio who has assisted me from "across the pond" to verify certain facts.

I have also had the pleasure of meeting members of several royal families and as a result have been prompted on a number of do's and don'ts. Not only are the British royals a kind and considerate family, they are fun-loving, generous of time and spirit, unstintingly philanthropic, and very original in spite of being the bastions of tradition.

The impending marriage of HRH Prince William of Wales to Miss Catherine Middleton promises to be a beautiful and historic wedding. There are a number of interesting traditions which this wedding will include:

-The gold for Kate's ring, for example, comes from a nugget mined in a Dolgellau, North Wales gold mine, a custom dating back to 1923.

-The flowers in her bouquet will likely be white and with a sprig of myrtle from a shrub planted by Queen Victoria after her wedding.

-The bouquet will be left at Westminster Abbey at the grave of the Unknown Warrior, a custom first adopted by the late Queen Mother.

-Prince William will be wearing a military uniform as did his father and grandfather .

Breaking from tradition, there will be an element of flexibility exhibited. Such signs of a more modern monarchy began in earnest with the late Princess Diana. For example, she felt it was important for her sons to carry money, something the royal family never did; and to experience more closely things which the general public enjoys.

Breaks from tradition will include:

-Prince William has decided as a personal preference on not wearing a wedding band.

-The bridal party will include two three-year olds as well as a maid of honor (very untraditional)

-Prince William's brother, Prince Harry, will be best man and make a best man speech(another first)

-Catherine and her father will arrive at Westminster Abbey in the Queen's Rolls Royce Phantom, as it has large windows through which onlookers get the best view. Customarily a horse drawn carriage was used.

-The ceremony itself will begin at 11 am. and will be followed by a buffet style wedding breakfast hosted by Her Majesty.

There will be two wedding cakes; one being the traditional fruit cake; the other a groom's cake made of tea biscuits and chocolate(a favorite of Prince William).

-There will be a public kiss on the balcony at Buckingham Palace.

-A dinner dance hosted by the Prince of Wales will follow later in the evening.

-Gentlemen have the choice of three types are acceptable attire: military uniforms, morning dress(single-breasted coats with tails), or lounge suits(business suits). Ladies will wear dresses, gloves, and hats.

Part of the magic of a wedding of this magnitude is the mystery in which so many details are shrouded. As with any wedding, we want to be awestruck by the bride's beauty. Catherine, as she wishes to be referred, will not disappoint. Which branch of the military William will represent has not been disclosed. He has served in three.

Once married, Her Majesty will announce what titles the couple will assume. They will most likely be given titles of Duke and Duchess. There are several possibilities. The destination for the couple's honeymoon is under total wraps, although a warm climate has been indicated.

There will of course be a plethora of souvenirs which enables everyone to have a memento of this extraordinary day. The Royal Canadian mint for one has just unveiled two collector coins to go on sale April 29th. A 25 cent piece that depicts the royal couple and a Canadian 20 dollar pure silver coin that features a sapphire colored crystal enhancement symbolizing the engagement ring given to Catherine by William.

I wish the couple all the best for their future lives together; for the longevity of the monarchy; and for the continued positive impact the royal family has on Canada.