There has been a lot of talk about today's royal wedding. I know a lot of people who most definitely didn't watch it and think the hoopla is ridiculous. I also know some people who got up early to watch and have been following the details since the engagement. I fall in the middle ground of being aware and vaguely interested - and I realized this morning why.
I was 6 years old in 1981 when Prince Charles married Lady Diana, the picture-perfect fairy tale.... at least at that point. At 6, it really seemed a fairy tale come true, at a time and age when fairy tales were a major part of my world view. Look at young girls now, obsessed with the Disney princesses. The idea of happy ever after, finding true love, living the fairy tale, seems like the best thing in the world at that age. It's before we've figured out all the bad stuff in the world and realized that the best fairy tale is the one where the princess saves herself. (May I recommend "The Practical Princess" as required enlightened fairy tale reading?)
I remember watching the wedding. I followed the fairy tale as it fell apart. I watched the beautiful princess become more beautiful as she found herself and ditched her prince. Yes, I grew up and knew this was a real marriage falling apart. But Princess Diana was kind of like the book or movie character that holds a soft place in your heart even years later. Over the years, I didn't follow obsessively, but I certainly knew when she left the castle and set out on her own.... and that was actually kind of empowering.
When she died, I stayed up late watching coverage, crying. It was the end of the fairy tale. For anyone who remembers where they were when Kennedy was shot, or still tears up thinking about the Twin Towers, sometimes things move us even when we are far removed. It's not really rational, but it's true.
So this morning I realized that Princess Diana is why I am mildly interested in the royal spectacle. The royal family has changed a lot since her time because of her. And now one of her sons is getting married, starting his own fairy tale, but one grounded in reality. I don't know if I can find the words to explain exactly, but it has to do with seeing something beautiful come from all the pain of the past.
William and Kate have done so many things right. They didn't follow the mistakes of the past. So seeing the glowing bride, the bride who knows what she is taking on, and the handsome prince, who seems grounded in reality, take the first steps on their journey together, is a creating a happy ending to the fairy tale that started 30 years ago. Here at last is the happy ever after.
So, I've seen the picture of the happy couple. And I've heard their vows (played over and over on the radio). And I'm ready to let them have their lives, wishing them a long and happy marriage.