Friday, 29 April 2011

The Royal Wedding

I was so pleased that William and Kate had dry weather for their wedding day, and even some sunshine: a very good omen. He looked resplendent in that red tunic with the blue RAF sash. She looked absolutely the princess in that deceptively simple wedding dress, which I confidently predict will be copied to death this summer. Why not? Why shouldn't all brides this year look like princesses too?

The demands of dilation meant that I missed Kate leaving her hotel and setting off for the Abbey. They were already at the altar when I'd made my cup of tea and was ready to watch. But not too late to hear the entire Marriage Service so ably performed by the Dean and then the Archbishop, Rowan Williams. What amazingly clear, sonorous voices they had. I thought William looked a bit nervous, and Harry even more so, and there was perhaps something else in Harry's expression, a kind of sadness, and I wondered if he was thinking of their absent mother. Kate seemed astonishingly in command of herself. Mind you, she was wearing a wedding dress to carry you through almost any event, a confidence-building dress. I wondered why Rowan Williams had contrived to look like an Old Testament prophet - white-haired, all wild eyebrows and patriarchal beard, as if he'd  just rushed down from the Mountain where God had given him fresh Divine Authority. I suppose you wouldn't think of touching up your hairstyle in those circumstances. And, by Jove, he said all the right words - beautifully spoken, and with nary a mistake. I held my breath when the wedding ring got stuck, but then it was all right. The incantations were over, the rituals scrupulously observed, and the magic spell was made. They were man and wife, and the whole world knew it.

Didn't you like the avenue of trees set up inside the Abbey? It was as if they were walking through a country churchyard, and not a dim hoary old edifice. 

And then the open coach, the 1902 landau with its red satin interior. William had carefully put on his peaked cap and white gloves. The sun was out. What a happy-looking and relaxed couple. I thought that Kate visibly grew in personal presence as the minutes passed, as she grew more and more used to the feel and sound of so many thousands people lining the route to the Palace.

I left it there: I could see the rest later in the day.

Three further thoughts though.

First, a demonstration to draw attention to a Muslim cause had been arranged in defiance of a Police refusal to give consent to it. But I saw no trouble or disturbance. Perhaps they were discreetly nipped in the bud and hustled away. But I believe they gave it up as not worth the effort. There was no point demonstrating if the happy minds of everyone else were totally fixed on something quite different. Still, I thought of sniper's bullets, and suicide bombs, and was very relieved when the Royal Couple finally made it safely into Buckingham Palace.

Second, in the Abbey the Prime Minister David Cameron (Conservative) and his deputy Nick Clegg (LibDem) did not look especially happy. The Wedding had stolen a week out out the Referendum Campaign. They both now faced a concentrated week of no-holds-barred vicious acid-throwing and back-stabbing before the country made its collective decision on 5 May. And they were civilised men who abhorred the rough stuff. Really. No wonder they were glum.

Third, I wonder how many trans women looked wistfully at Kate today, and said to themselves 'It ought to be me!' Not necessarily marrying Prince William, of course, but having the chance - if their entire past life had been blown away - to start again with a love match, and a fairytale wooing, and a proposal, and a memorable and cherished white wedding. There are of course firms who can let you can simulate such an experience, for the purpose of play-acting while all dressed up, complete with a set of fake wedding photos: they are on the internet. But a lot of trans women surely want the real thing, with a real partner, and the Happy Ever After too. And of course not many will get their wish. Which makes me think that - for certain sensitive people - it might be quite dangerous to accept an invitation to someone else's wedding. Yes, it's a wonderful excuse to buy and wear a great outfit - but a sure recipe for depression! How awful you will feel once the bride and groom have driven off to their honeymoon hotel, and you are left to go home all alone, unattached, and possibly unwanted. Boo hoo!


  1. Given a chance I think I would elect to be Pippa rather than Kate. I did shed a few tears though through the day - lots of emotion

  2. I didn't watch any of the event. I needed my beauty sleep. :) My partner and I did, of course, check out pictures of the fashion parade. We both loved Kate's gown.

    If I had changed sex when I was young, judging by the way I feel now, I would have dated men and, I imagine, would have wanted to find a husband. Yes, I do think about me as the bride. However, at this point, I would be happy to be a bridesmaid or even to be invited to a nice wedding. I have shoes! Alas, at my age, anyone who gets married tends to do it in a rather low-key way.

  3. Your closing paragraph touches on a blog piece I had begun to write but, like a number of them, may not bother to publish. I attended many hundreds of weddings as a church organist and feelings of “why was it never me in the white dress” have haunted me all my life. Watching yesterday’s royal wedding fired those same thoughts yet again, and it now went to some new depth as I felt yet more strongly the reality that just possibly it could have been me had I not prevaricated for so much of my life.

    It is now a highly unlikely that I will ever be asked to make such a choice and would I now want to forsake my single life and all the freedoms it gives me? It is a pointless question when the alternative is not known.

    I have felt some kind of belonging to the bridal side of every wedding I’ve played for, but watching yesterday’s wedding did give me a new kind of affinity with the bride. I know that my physical condition now has as much in common with her as it ever can. I will be observing my feelings with interest at the two weddings I am involved with during May.

  4. What really struck me about the Royal Wedding was that at its heart were the simple vows uttered by couples in churches throughout the land. (Well most use words that are a bit more up-to-date, but not much different really.)

    I often joke that I've married more women than a care to remember, and I confess that on almost every occasion I have wished that, one day, I could be the lady in white... or even black, as one last year was a Goth wedding. And I bet they don't have many of those in Westminster Abbey!


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