The Broad is Back!

June 8, 2013

Grattis Madeleine och Chris

It’s a big day in Sweden today. Princess Madeleine, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia’s youngest child, married her Anglo-American fiance Chris O’Neil.  Who doesn’t love a pretty wedding? And as a former Swedish resident, I was curious.

When I was learning Swedish I read the two national tabloids most days to work on my vocabulary. We owned a shop which sold them, so it was easy enough to do.  And the one thing that gets covered ad nauseum in the tabloids is the royal family, so I’m surprisingly familiar with them. That adds to my curiosity, of course. I’ve watched this woman in the media for over 10 years. She’s familiar.

But I was curious for another reason. Princess Madeleine has been living in New York City for the past three years, and I actually came face to face with her early one morning on a coffee run. A narrow door: she was coming out, I was going in, so we were inches apart. I recognized her face, thought she was a former student, but then realized, no, that’s the princess. Five years in Sweden, never see a royal. Here in NYC? Come face to face with one. No words were spoken, just the usual polite smiles exchanged as one person steps aside for the other. Besides, I’m far too much of a New Yorker to react to a famous face, and she was just another New Yorker during the early morning rush.

But having seen the woman in the flesh, I was curious about her wedding.  Three years ago, her sister, Crown Princess Victoria, got married. I was curious then, as well, so I checked out the Swedish websites that day and was truly happy for her.  And homesick for Sweden.

Leading up to today, I was feeling much less nostalgic for Sweden, but of course, the first thing I did this morning was to log on to the website of Sweden’s biggest tabloid, Aftonbladet, to check out the pictures.

I loved it. The Swedish princesses are very pretty women with excellent taste in clothing. The bride’s Valentino dress was stunning and the bride looked like, well, a princess from a storybook. Everything about the wedding was lovely. The flowers, the children singing in the church, the reading by the Crown Princess. And I was struck at how much seeing Stockholm in all its summer beauty made me homesick.

There are videos on the site, of course, and the one that made me go all soft and gooey was the short one of Madeleine going up the aisle on her father’s arm. The shots of Chris O’Neil showed him visibly moved, unsuccessfully holding back tears. Yesterday I didn’t know the guy from Adam. Today, I think he’s a sweetie.

For all the royal pomp and circumstance, the overwhelming feeling I got from the pictures was love and warmth. The bridal pair is obviously besotted. Watching the royal family interact one can see the strong family love and connection. Victoria’s daughter, the littlest princess, Estelle, is 15 months old, but even she was at the wedding interacting with her mother, father and grandmother.

Seeing such obvious joy on the faces of Madeleine and Chris and their families just felt good. Watching something lovely set in the magnificent royal chapel and then later on the streets of Stockholm on a glorious summer day was a welcome respite from the “real world”. It was a moment away from school shootings, illegal wiretaps, financial meltdown and all the harsh realities we usually see in the news.

I feel the same way about all the weddings I attend, but this summer I don’t have any lined up, so I have to look to Sweden. I know there are American celebrity weddings, but I don’t recognize most of the people involved. And those weddings are not semi-state occasions, put on, in part, for public consumption. If celebrities get married and want privacy, they should have it. If they don’t, well, then I’ll look at their pictures, too.

We all need joy and happiness, reasons to celebrate and a reminder that love is something real that should be celebrated.  Part of me feels silly, uncool, and somewhat old fashioned for watching a royal wedding, but after all, I am a child of my times. Back when I was a little girl, fairy tale weddings were something to dream about. So for the most part it made me feel good to watch, and there’s nothing wrong with feeling good.

Madeleine och Chris: Grattis på ditt äktenskap. Må Gud välsigna er med ett långt och lyckligt liv tillsammans.

And Chris? Good luck learning Swedish!

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May 22, 2011

Princess Bea redux

The ebay auction for the hat is over and it raised a whopping £81,100.01, or in American loot, $131,647.60.

For a hat. For an ugly hat.

But the massive amount is going to charity. Don’t know who won or what the person will do with the most famous hat of the year, but thanks for giving, I guess.

And thanks to Princess Beatrice for being a good sport.

May 15, 2011

Credit where credit is due

Filed under: England,New Broads,Royal Wedding — by maggiec @ 5:21 pm
Tags: , ,

When I wrote about the royal wedding, I made fun of Princess Beatrice’s hat. To be fair, everyone else did, too. And I stand by my assessment. It’s not a flattering hat.

But Princess Beatrice has turned all the scorn to a good cause. And good  for her.  She’s auctioning the hat off via ebay.  Right now, six days before the auction ends, the bid is £11,000.00.  For American readers, that’s $17,788.35 at today’s exchange rate.  Not chump change.

The monies collected will be split between UNICEF UK and Children in Crisis.

People made fun of her, but she turned it around. I’m no fan, but credit where credit is due. This isn’t my usual topic for this blog, but I support charity when I can. And people who can turn negatives to positives should be saluted. Fair play to you, Beatrice.

April 29, 2011

Best Wishes, but I am so glad it’s over!

Usually, after the last toast has been made and the last piece of cake played with (I mean, really, who ever eats wedding cake?), the bride and groom’s families are heartily relieved the thing is over and done with. Anyone who has ever had a family wedding knows this–from the smallest backyard do to the grandest ballroom extravaganza, weddings are taxing. It seems that everything revolves around that one day for months and months beforehand. And once it ends, people kick off their shoes, heave a sigh of relief and start speculating about babies.

Well, for William and Catherine’s wedding, I think the whole world is heaving that sigh. It’s over. We can stop talking about it all the time.

Because it seems the whole world went crazy. I don’t really understand why. One blog I read (can’t remember where), attributed it to the “Diana factor”–that people are interested in William because of his mother. Maybe.  That might have been part of why I watched, but then I’m an 18th century British literature scholar by training. I think I’m contractually obligated to be interested in British pomp and circumstances.

But back in 1981, Diana fascinated me because we were the same age. I was far too young to be serious about a guy at that age, and there she was, marrying a prince. Cool. Odd, but cool. Then came William.  I was working as a reporter for a news service at the time, and my boss was covering the Saratoga horse sales, a big annual event. She always sold a lot of stories about it, so she invested some good money to stay there for the week and get lots of details.  She came back from that trip so mad she was sputtering. “All that investment, and that damn baby had to come and blow the horse sales news out of the water.” Papers were full of the new royal heir with no room for horse stories. I wonder if she’s forgiven him yet.

When Diana died, I was actually dating a man who had worked at Highgrove, Charles’s country estate. He had known her and was devastated at her death. Totally gutted, actually. He had told me stories of young William that made the prince seem more like a person to me. But more than that, I lost my dad  at 11, so I knew what it was like for the two young boys to lose a parent so suddenly and so young. Frankly, it is horrible. Yet, I was also a mom, so my heart went out to them from the adult perspective, as well.

But the boys grew up fine, more or less, and frankly, I don’t really care about them either way. I wish them no ill, but I don’t pay much attention, either. But as I wrote last week, a wedding is a wedding. So yes, I was up at 5AM watching the arrivals and then the ceremony. Just as the bride and groom arrived back at the palace, I had to dash out to work.

Frankly, I can understand dishing about it now that it’s over. That’s the fun part, the rehashing and the looking at the pretty pictures. But why did the world go so mad? Are we so overwhelmed by all the bad that’s happening that we have to get caught up in other people’s lives? Have we become such a celebrity-driven culture that a Windsor wedding, at the top of the celebrity heap, so to speak, draws all focus? Is it the Diana factor? Probably a mixture of all. 

I can understand the British going mad, but why did the American media whip up such a frenzy? I remember the first time I “experienced” a royal wedding.  It was Princess Anne to Mark Philips in November of 1973.  There was enough mention that a 12-year-old girl in America knew about it, but  back then I was also a huge Tudor geek.  I was obsessed with the Tudor family for some reason, so royalty interested me. Oh, and I saw a picture of the bride-to-be’s younger brother, Andrew, who was just about my age and, in to my 12-year-old mind, cute. So I got interested. I got up early and watched the wedding (and to my everlasting delight, Anne’s dress was an Elizabethan design–cue the Tudor fan-girl swoon).  But what’s the big deal to Americans? Why the unrelenting press coverage?

Princess Victoria of Sweden’s wedding barely made a splash over here. And she’s just as pretty as Catherine. And she’s next in line to the throne, not third like William. Why do Americans worship the Windsors? We certainly don’t understand the least thing about royalty. I was looking at People Magazine’s coverage of the wedding (pictures!), and was struck at how many nuances of royalty the reporters seem to miss. OK, and I was struck at how much I actually know.  But why the madness? 

Is it jealousy? Do we want royalty? I don’t think so at all. Based on talks I have with people and what I hear, most Americans have no idea of what it really means to be a subject, not a citizen. A hereditary head of state goes against everything we believe in as a nation. And really, this obsession is a relatively new phenomenon. Maybe it is the “Diana factor”.

All I know is I’m glad it’s over. Back to the every day. Back to the bad news–there’s a natural disaster than needs attention in America’s southland; there’s a space shuttle launch this very afternoon. So time to get back to real life.

But before I go, here’s the dish: loved her dress. Classic style beautifully done. The hats! Really, Beatrice, what were you thinking? The sermon was lovely–full of my favorite words–love, future, hope. And Prince Andrrew is sooooo not cute anymore.

Best wishes to the happy couple. a long and happy life together.

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