I have just returned from a visit to the land of my birth to see family and friends and discovered that the whole country is in a frenzy of excitement and anticipation about the wedding of Prince William (who is second in line to the British throne after his father, Prince Charles) and Kate Middleton. Their wedding will take place next week in London.
I have been touched by the interest taken in the forthcoming royal nuptials by people in the U.S. Despite the Americans throwing out the British king and declaring independence in 1776, there is still a significant interest in the British constitutional monarchy.
Queen Elizabeth II will have been on the throne for 60 years in 2012, and our reigning monarch has official, representational and ceremonial duties that include appointing a prime minister and dissolving Parliament.
However, these are largely symbolic acts as we have a democratically elected government. Most people in the U.K. are very supportive of our royal family, and the royal wedding day will be a public holiday for British people.
April 29 will see the couple unite in holy matrimony at Westminster Abbey in London at 6 a.m. Eastern time, which is 11 a.m. in the U.K. Theirs is far from a traditional courtship. Indeed, in light of their long eight-year relationship that began when they were at university together in Scotland, Kate was known rather unkindly as “Waitie Katie.” In fact, at the age of 29 years she will earn the distinction of being the oldest royal (first-time) bride.
Perhaps because of Prince William’s own parents’ experience – the Charles and Diana fairytale wedding that ended in betrayal and divorce – he wanted to be very, very sure before tying the knot. The couple has even lived together in Wales, in a cottage near where the prince serves in the Royal Air Force, in romantic seclusion – if you ignore the security forces surrounding them of course.
Details of the wedding arrangements are the subject of great speculation. Prince William managed to have a secret bachelor party – we call it a “stag night” – in March, organized by his brother Prince Harry. And the design of the future Princess Kate’s wedding dress is a closely guarded secret.
It is known that tradition will be upheld as Kate’s wedding ring will be made from Welsh gold – a rare metal since gold has not been mined in Wales for decades, although the royal family has kept a supply for making wedding rings. Everybody is also aware that Kate is wearing Princess Diana’s sapphire and diamond engagement ring, which was presented on vacation in Kenya when her prince proposed.
Prince William has broken with tradition by choosing not to wear a wedding ring. In fact many would say that he has broken with tradition by not choosing his bride from the landed gentry or upper classes.
While Kate Middleton’s family is financially secure and has insisted on contributing to the wedding by paying for bridesmaids’ dresses and other items, they are normal working people. Kate’s mother used to work as an air stewardess. And it is said that Prince William is close to Kate’s family and respects her parents’ long and happy marriage.
It is known that the royal couple will have two wedding cakes: Kate has commissioned a traditional British multi-tiered cream and white-iced fruit wedding cake. It will be decorated with edible floral symbols of the four nations of the United Kingdom – an English rose, a Scottish thistle, a Welsh daffodil and an Irish shamrock. Prince William has asked for a favorite recipe from his childhood – an unbaked chocolate biscuit cake (we call cookies “biscuits” – very different from your southern biscuits).
Personally, I wish them a wonderful wedding day and a long and happy life together. And as we say in the British Isles, “God save the Queen.”
Francis grew up in London, England, and moved to Richmond Hill in 2009 with her American husband, Carl, and English dogs. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.lesleyfrancispr.com.