Thursday, May 10, 2018

A Surprise Royal Watcher

Victoria Andrilenas is a reference librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read her column in the May 10, 2018 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

After my one column about space turned into two I did not think I would be writing more anytime soon. However, when I discovered my colleagues did not share my level of excitement over the upcoming royal nuptials I knew I had found something else to write about. For those of you who attended our “Real Hollywood Royalty” film series featuring Grace Kelly (m. Prince Rainier III of Monaco) and Rita Hayworth (m. Prince Aly Kahn), I hope you enjoyed my attempt to build excitement for when American actress Meghan Markle marries Prince Harry on May 19.

As a child I was fascinated by Queen Victoria because we shared a first name. She was my go to option for any assignment on a historical figure where she could be made to fit the requirements. Given that interest in the British royal family, the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 was very exciting for nine year old me. It came as no surprise, to my mother at least, that I wanted to get up early enough to not only see the 11:20 am BST ceremony (6:20 am EDT) but also the procession to St. Paul’s and guests entering the Cathedral. Fortunately it was summer so I didn’t need to worry about missing school, but I never voluntarily got up that early! Like many young girls I was taken with Princess Diana’s seemingly fairy tale marriage and so impressed by the spectacle that I decided I would require female guests to wear hats when I got married. I outgrew that fascination before I got married, much to the relief of my female relatives and friends, though not until after I graduated from college.

Of course I was excited to read about the births of Prince William in 1982 and Prince Harry in 1984. The 1996 divorce of the Prince and Princess of Wales four years after their separation made it clear the marriage was not a fairy tale. 4 am EDT was too early for me to watch the entire thing live but I did get up early to watch part of the funeral of Princess Diana after her tragic death in 1997. The 2006 film The Queen depicts the royal family’s response to this event.
When Sarah Ferguson married Prince Andrew in 1986 I was a teenager and we had a VCR so I had my dad record it and watched it at a more reasonable time of day. I had not been at my first professional job for very long when Prince Edward got married, and for some reason wasn’t very interested anyway.

When the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton was announced in 2010, my previous workplace had some lunchtime conversations about reusing an engagement ring from a wedding that ended so unhappily. The general consensus was that we’d be happy to have to such a beautiful piece of jewelry, but not as an engagement ring. In the months leading up to the wedding, whenever I was in a waiting room I devoured PeopleUs Weekly, and the like for photos of the couple and information about their wedding plans. I took the day of the wedding off so I could watch it on TV. 

Although I watched the repeat broadcast rather than the live version, I was up early making British scones and cakes to eat with my friend who came to watch it with me. I was not alone in having a wedding watching party. In fact, serious royals fans would consider me an amateur since I didn’t watch it live and we didn’t dress up or wear hats. I did get some awesome swag though: a commemorative tea tin and china mug. The births of their children has also been exciting and I eagerly awaited the arrival and naming of Prince Louis last month.

While I’m sure there are many people who will find it easier to watch Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding on a Saturday, I would prefer a workday since my family would be busy at school and work leaving the TV, and my time, free for binge watching the wedding. My understanding is the British would have preferred a work day as well so they could get a Bank Holiday. Unfortunately my friend who watched the 2011 wedding with me will be working, and my other potential watching partners live elsewhere, so I probably won’t spend much time creating a special menu just for me.
I was too young to pore over gossip magazines when Princes Charles and Andrew got married and am not a committed reader of them now, but if you are, Morrill Memorial Library’s Flipster app gives you access to several of them. I prefer to look at a few blogs that follow the royal family. My favorite is written by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. Each week they do a “Royals Round-Up” with links to articles about and photos of European royals from the preceding week. When the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge travel, the site often has daily posts with photos from the trip. The two also wrote book The Royal We about an American who goes to college in England where she falls in love with the heir to the British throne. What Kate Wore has fashion coverage of the Duchess of Cambridge and an offshoot called What Kate’s Kids Wore has information about what the young princes and princess wear. Meghan’s Mirror covers Ms. Markle’s style including an entire page about her handbags (a weakness of mine).

I know some of my coworkers were surprised to learn just how interested I am in the British royals.  I am clearly not a slave to fashion, do not watch reality TV shows, and generally have very little interest in celebrities. The truth is I love some of the fashion worn by the Duchess of Cambridge and Miss Markle but my practical nature means that even their off the rack styles aren’t likely to be found in my closet since my lifestyle doesn’t call for cocktail dresses or high heels. But now you know I’ll be glued to the TV next Saturday morning!