The British Royal family continues to make the headlines back in the land of my birth. Hot on the heels of the announcement about the retirement of 95-year-old Prince Philip, this week’s big news is of the marriage of Princess Catherine’s younger sister, Pippa Middleton, to her fiancé James Matthews last weekend.
Dubbed by the media as "The Wedding of the Year," this elite event took place under grey (which is the English spelling for gray) May skies in a small private English church with the reception held at the Middleton estate in Berkshire.
The wedding ceremony and reception had much of the Royal family in attendance, including third-in-line-to-the-throne 3-year-old Prince George (who had a bit of a tantrum) and 2-year-old Princess Charlotte, who served as combination page boy and flower girl.
Princess Catherine, whose husband Prince William is of course second in line to the throne, took the role of matron of honor/chief bridesmaid. I was rather impressed with Princess Catherine, who despite her role and profile, took charge of the children, fussed over Pippa’s wedding dress and clearly wanted her sister to be the center of attention.
The world’s media whipped themselves into a frenzy of excitement. The big question: Would Prince Harry’s American girlfriend Meghan Markle join the wedding party? As it happened, she was one of the 300 wedding reception guests, but did not join her boyfriend at the smaller wedding ceremony earlier in the day.
Aside from all this glitz, glamor and fashion, I am personally delighted that the young Royals — The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (William and Catherine) and Prince Harry — are working together to raise awareness about a serious issue. They are spearheading the Heads Together campaign, which targets ending the stigma around mental health, and May is of course Mental Health Awareness month.
Back in the UK, Heads Together aims to ensure that people feel comfortable with their everyday mental wellbeing, feel able to support their friends and families through difficult times, and that social stigma doesn’t prevent people getting the help they need. The rationale behind Heads Together is that "two heads are better than one when it comes to our mental health. So when someone you know is going through a difficult time, it’s OK to ask how they are — and if you feel like you need to speak to someone, it’s OK to say so".
These 30-something Royals have been at the forefront of discussion about mental health and encouraging people to open up and seek help. From supporting fundraising and awareness of the issue at the London Marathon to undertaking difficult and extremely personal TV interviews about the effects on the two princes of losing their mother Princess Diana 20 years ago, they are honoring her legacy by raising awareness of challenging issues.
These three high profile "next generation" Royals are working with partner charities in the UK which are already tackling stigma, raising awareness, and providing vital help for people with mental health challenges. You can visit www.headstogether.org.uk for more information on this very good cause.
I will sign off this week with this short quote from Prince Harry, who has accomplished a lot despite being just 32-years-old and a bit of a playboy: Captain in the Royal Airforce, Apache helicopter commander, and patron of a number of charitable organizations in which he spends much of his time focusing on the welfare of servicemen and women, championing developmental opportunities for hard to reach children, and African conservation.
He has spoken often about the influence his mother, Princess Di, had on him: "You’ve got to give something back. You can’t just sit there!"
God bless America and the British Royal family.
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