Growing up in Canada, I had an interesting connection with the British royal family. I knew that Queen Elizabeth was observed as the monarch in Canada. I knew that many of my American friends didn't understand our monarch observation. I was once told by an American peer that they were certain I must pray to the Queen. This peer may have been a dimwit, but it stayed with me that we were different in Canada for hanging paintings and photos of the Queen in our government buildings and schools, for knowing the lyrics to God Save the Queen (to be fair they are immensely easy to recall), for keeping up with news of the royal family. Prince William was born the same week I was in 1982. When Princess Diana died we all mourned. Royal births and weddings are very well covered in the news in Canada and *if televised, widely viewed. Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, are the only Royals that I have seen in person thus far, and I have the blurry photo to prove it. My goal is to see Queen Elizabeth, to be her friend actually. I think she is great, she wears the brightest clothes I have ever seen, and doesn't smile just because you want her to.
I've recently learned that one's relationship with the Royal Family may be more complicated for the English. Most facebook statuses in recent days from my lovely friends on this side of the pond in light of the royal wedding on Saturday have been overwhelmingly prefixed with, "I'm not a royalist, but... (something lovely about the wedding or the royal family)." I didn't know that declarations of being a royalist where necessary. Obviously, the history of royalty in the UK, or anywhere really, is shocking, violent, really horrible actually. I can't think of a country that has not committed atrocities. Humans are deeply flawed, racist, and classist, and it's important to acknowledge this so that we can do better. My view of the present day royal family, is that they are people who are, for the most part, making the best of a strange life situation that they didn't ask for. Obviously, they are wealthy and privileged beyond belief, but this comes with a price. I would not want the life of a royal, always in the public eye, constantly scrutinized. Possibly, I am reading WAY TO FAR into the concept of being a royalist, as I am apt to do. Perhaps it's just not fashionable. As we all know, being fashionable or current is not part of my life plan, so I am free to say that I LOVED THE ROYAL WEDDING AND THE WEEKS LEADING UP TO IT.
This has been my favourite time in England thus far. Shop windows proudly displayed cookware featuring the faces of Prince Harry and bride to be Meghan Markle (or Ed Sheeran and Meghan Markle depending on the manufacturer's fact checking abilities). Union Jack bunting magically began appearing everywhere, including my living room. There were limited edition cakes, sections in shops for British themed clothing. Everywhere I went people were talking about it.
My twins had a royal wedding at school. An invitation came home with them inviting them to RSVP to the royal wedding of two of their classmates. Dress code and suggested gifts were indicated on the invitation. I will admit, I was quite confused initially. However, I quickly decided that it was more adorable than it was strange. I told my sisters and a few friends about it to mixed reaction. The fact that they were marrying two children was a little difficult to wrap our heads around, although since, I have learned that weddings often happen in Reception classrooms, to teach about weddings? Surprisingly, I did learn about weddings when I was a child. I went to a wedding, and my mom said, "this is a wedding." So last Friday, all the children dressed up in red, white, and blue to match the colours of the flag. It was really cute, the children seemed so very excited, and the delerium of a wedding day at school prompted one of my boys to lodge a small pebble deep into his ear canal. After 4 hours in emergency on Friday night (best wedding anniversary ever) with no luck in removing the stone, we returned to see an ENT specialist today. The foreign object was successfully removed. Mr. L was sent home with the "ear rock," which really is the best wedding souvenir I have ever heard of, except he has already dropped it down the sink drain. C'est la vie.
Really though, with royal wedding mania all around, people are bound to do silly things like put pebbles in their ears or drink too much or stay up too late or just have too much darn fun. On Saturday, I donned my fascinator and parked myself in front of the television to watch the wedding. My partner watched as well, and our boys half watched. It was fabulous. I found myself much more excited that I thought I would be, I am not sure if this was due to the hype or the rum I was drinking. Highlights for me were watching Prince William and Prince Harry walk to the church together, Meghan Markle's mother's sweet face, Bishop Michael Curry's impassioned words and how they put all the Brits in a tizzy, the beautiful gospel choir, and Sheku-Kanneh Mason on the cello playing Faure like a boss. As my sister texted me, "Meghan stole my dress." Please don't tell me who wore it better. That is an unkind game that I would certainly lose. I must say that she has impeccable taste and chose a timeless dress 16 years almost to the day that I wore my timeless dress. I know not everyone loved the dress, but it's impossible to please everyone, so do what you want and wear what you want and if you are not a royal, no one will care.
We followed the wedding with a walk to our local, kids in tow, and were joined by our dear friends, D and J, as featured in The Hatherley (a comedy of errors). This time, they did meet us at the correct Hatherley. There were a lot of happy people in that pub and some interesting wedding themed cocktails that my partner was to embarrassed to order for me. He did order a pitcher of Zombie (so regal). Walking around the neighbourhood, there were many parties, decorations, people wearing masks of the royal family, drinking, more drinking, and in our case karaoke, Youtube videos, and children dancing uninhibited- forgetting all about the rock in the ear situation. **By some miracle, England was bathed in sunshine the entire day and has been ever since. This is the happiest England has ever been, since I've lived here anyway. She is glowing!
With so much awful news in the world, I live for days when we can all just be happy and talk about a love story and celebrate life. As I can only assume that they are regular readers, I wish all the very best for the Duchess and Duke of Sussex. Thank you for falling in love and having a beautiful wedding so that all of England could have a lovely day. Much love, a Canadian who loves royals.
*A royal birth being televised would be shocking, but who knows what the future may bring.
**For accuracy, it has now begun to rain as I edit this.