Nostalgia

Only 130 days to go now before Kate and Wills‘ big day. All this royal wedding fever fills me with nostalgia. It takes me back to July 29, 1981 when the Prince of Wales married Lady Diana Spencer.

I was lucky enough to be one of a handful of journalists inside St.Paul’s Cathedral, perched on a seat closer to the bride than the end of her 25 ft. train (well, almost).

I still have my media access pass, which I had framed. It listed instructions from the Lord Chamberlain’s office about what to wear – ‘Officers – full ceremonial day dress (no swords,) civilians – morning dress or lounge suit and ladies – day dress with hat.’

 
diana-blog.jpgAlmost 30 years later I remember walking down Fleet Street to St.Paul’s carefully trying not to step on people sleeping on the pavement. We lowly reporters were required to arrive incredibly early, around 8.00am for the ceremony which began at 11.00am.

It was fascinating to watch all the VIPs taking their seats and note Princess Diana’s elder sister Lady Sarah McCorquodale creeping into her place near the high altar at the very last minute. She had stayed behind at Clarence House to help Diana get dressed, I learned later.

Of course, we were all counting the seconds until the bride appeared and we got a look at THE dress. At the first glimpse of Diana drowning inside that crumpled, tea cosy there was a universal sigh from the press pen, ‘Oh, it’s all creased!’ Looking back, it now seems a sad omen just like the way Diana mangled her vows, promising to marry ‘Philip Charles’ instead of Charles Philip.

But my lasting memory of that unforgettable day is the wonderful music Prince Charles personally chose for the occasion, soaring and swirling up into the great dome of St.Paul’s. Diana’s only input was choosing her favourite hymn I Vow to Thee My Country, which sadly was also sung at her funeral 16 years later.

There were no mobile phones then, so when the newlyweds left and the fanfares faded , I fought my way through the crowd out of a side door and ran all the way back to the office to file my glowing report.

Five years later when Prince Andrew married Sarah Ferguson we were all squeezed into much smaller Westminster Abbey. The bride arrived like a country girl with a wreath of flowers in her hair and walked out an hour later as a royal duchess with a tiara on her head. This lovely way of marking the transition from commoner to Prince’s bride seemed so romantic. Kate will have to try hard to better that.

I’ll also never forget the scent of the magnificent white flowers which filled every corner of the Abbey, transforming it into a summer garden.

 

fergie-blog.jpg
When Prince Edward married Sophie Rhys-Jones in 1999 the wedding took place in Windsor Castle so we were all denied the customary kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace as crowds cheered in the Mall below.

Prince Charles and Camilla also celebrated their 2005 wedding at Windsor on a bitterly cold early April day. Standing in a roped-off area for reporters, my fingers were so frozen I could barely scribble a note.

I’m hoping that the weather is kinder to Kate and William at the end of April, as well as for everyone lining the route.

Up until then I’ll be blogging about what’s really going on behind palace doors as Miss Middleton gets ready to become Princess William – or whatever title the Queen bestows on the couple. So watch this space!

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10 comments

  1. Finally someone willing to admit Diana’s dress was hideous.

  2. I don’t understand why every one only remembers how creased Diana’s dress was? She looked breathtakingly beautiful, no body mentions that these days. I’ve seen footage of Diana’s wedding, Sarah’s and Sophie’s too. But Diana, despite the fact she was too young looks more dignified them all. All others carried themselves like country girls with no class.

  3. Super excited to read your posts! Thanks!

  4. Debora Huggins

    I remember when Diana emerged from her carriage and she was so beautiful and was every inch the “fairytale princess” as far as I am concerned. Who cares about her dress being wrinkled? She could have showed up in a potato sack and still go down as the MOST BEAUTIFUL of all royal brides. Regardless, lets hope Kate brings a little modern style to the BRF and not go all dowdy on us and the rest of the world.

  5. Who cares if Diana’s dress was wrinkled? She looked a million times better than Sarah who looked like she was going to a country fair, and Sophie, who looked like a deer in headlights – and a boring deer to boot!6

  6. Duke and Duchess of Clarence – just wait and see

  7. It was a beautiful dress and a unforgetable day

  8. Tracy Williamson

    Unfortunately Dianas dress was rather creased! Ironically she wasnt the most beautiful royal bride, I thought Sarah Ferguson looked better than her, and more recently Autumn Kelly looked lovely.
    I am looking forward to William & Kates official engagement photographs.

  9. In the aftermath it is heartbreaking that Diana’s dress was creased, as her royal life would also be.
    But she was gorgeous inside and outside and remained so all her life and found happiness in her two boys.
    What amazes me (after seing a doc on channel4 I think )is how spiteful and nasty people are about kate. She is a very nice girl and beautiful to match and William is lucky to get her.It makes me happy to see that he realizes it.

  10. Diana was too shy, Fergie acted very natural and Sophie was ladylike, including her dress. Still they’re all fine, positive women and it’s what brought them close to people.
    As for Kate, no matter what she wears will look great on her, cuz she has a beautiful body and holds herself as the princess she is to become. Not to mention her style… And the frustrates who hold anything against her are free to ignore her existance and get a life of their own…

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