It was the wedding of the decade, perhaps the century. Women all over America waited excitedly to hear about the ceremony, the groom, and most of all, the bride’s dress. Some had to wait days, even weeks, though, because the only accounts were carried by newspapers. It was Feb. 10, 1840, and the bride was Queen Victoria of England.
Folks on both sides of the ocean were fascinated with the courtship of Victoria and Albert and their eventual marriage. Victoria is credited with making the white wedding dress popular.
It seems we’ve always been fascinated with royal marriages. Though I was too young to remember, I know my mother was enthralled when American actress Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier of Monaco on April 18, 1956. For the rest of mom’s life, whenever “Rear Window,” “The Country Girl” or “High Society” was on television, she would always exclaim, “Oh, that’s Grace Kelly. She married a prince, you know.”
Even before I was born, Princess Elizabeth of England married Philip Mountbatten, on Nov. 20, 1947. I’m sure my mother followed that wedding as devoutly as I followed Prince Charles, Elizabeth’s son, when he married Diana Spencer on July 29, 1981. This was several years before I married Matt, but I was still entranced by the ceremony, the clothing, and the pomp and circumstance.
A whole new generation of followers was able to satisfy the hunger for a royal wedding when Prince William, Charles and Diana’s oldest, married Kate Middleton on April 9, 2011. A mere 1,900 guests were present to witness the ceremony, which had no shortage of fanfare and press coverage. People got up in the middle of the night to begin watching on television. It was reported that Kate patterned her dress after that of Queen Victoria, though I didn’t notice a great similarity other than that they both were white and both had lace.
Just last week, we had the chance to disrupt our sleep again. This time, it was to enjoy the wedding of William’s younger brother, Harry, to American Meghan Markle (forever after to be referred to as the Duchess of Sussex, which is awfully difficult to say quickly). This is the second time an American girl has had the real fairy tale wedding to a real prince.
Those of us who grew up on those fairy tales are beguiled by this notion, of course. This theory was endorsed by Veronica Hefner, Ph.D. at UC Davis. She has studied the people who watch royal weddings and found that those who do so “in order to see a fairy tale romance, report stronger idealistic beliefs than those people who watch for basic entertainment.”
Emily Fairchild, an Associate Professor of Sociology, has studied weddings and says American are fascinated by the tremendous resources the royal family dedicates to weddings. She says watching “gives people a chance to vicariously experience the ideal wedding.”
Sadly, it seems we must wait a while for another royal wedding. In the meantime, there’s YouTube.
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Sue is a retired public servant who volunteers at the Hospice store (For All Seasons) in Troy and teaches part-time at Urbana University. She keeps busy taking care of husband, house, and pets. She and her husband have an adult son who lives in Troy.