When the royal family announced the engagement of Prince William and his longtime girlfriend Kate Middleton on Nov. 16, I heard a lot of different reactions from my friends.
“Good for them!”
“I couldn’t care less.”
“Why couldn’t it be me?!? Is Prince Harry still available?!?”
(That last one might have been me.)
But I was the only one who could say, “I’ll be there!” I’ve been studying abroad in London since January.
I’ve always been one of those Americans who care way too much about the British royal family. I don’t remember hearing about Princess Diana’s death in August 1997, and I only vaguely remember watching her funeral on TV. But I vividly remember flipping through my mom’s copy of People magazine’s Princess Diana commemorative issue that came out shortly afterward.
I didn’t know much about Diana before her death, but after reading I became fascinated. Who was this woman who had transformed from a frumpy schoolteacher into a rich and glamorous royal?
Diana was more interesting than any Disney princess. Snow White was never friends with Elton John. Cinderella never cuddled an AIDS-infected baby or donated millions of dollars to an African village. Princess Diana was a real person who I admired.
Of course it followed that I became one of those American girls who follows every bit of news about Diana’s sons, Prince Harry and Prince William. I read about all of Prince Harry’s crazy adventures, from his frequent nightclub visits to his questionable Halloween costume choices. I debated with other girls whether it was creepy or cute that William gave Kate his mother’s engagement ring. For the record, I think it was a nice gesture!
So when I came to London, I felt right at home with the royalty-obsessed Brits. When I went on a bus tour of the city, my tour guide exhaustively pointed out various royal family-related sites, from the queen’s favorite grocery store to Diana’s old hairdresser. British newspapers run stories about at least one member of the royal family every day. And most of these stories aren’t very hard-hitting. I wouldn’t be surprised if The Guardian decided to run a story about how the queen’s favorite color is now blue, not purple.
You would not believe how many royal wedding-related souvenirs are available in these stores: T-shirts, key chains, umbrellas, rain ponchos (a little tacky?) and shot glasses (definitely tacky).
I’ve received a wide range of comments from family and friends about going to the royal wedding — everything from “Have fun! Takes lots of pictures!” to “You should throw something at Camilla when she passes by on her carriage.” Apparently, some people are still bitter about how she treated Diana in the ’90s — old celebrity grudges die hard.
Some ask me why I even care, or warn that I won’t be able to see anything in the huge crowd anyway. My answer is, why not? Without some sort of passion, the world would be an awfully boring place. Call me crazy if you want, but I know I’m going to have a good time watching one of the biggest events in recent history happen right before my eyes.
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