Yesterday I saw someone on Twitter mention that they’d looked up the date of Prince William’s wedding to Catherine Middleton, just so she could be sure to keep the tv turned off for the entire day. (It’s Friday, April 29, at 11am, if you wanted to know.)
And no, I’m not planning to watch it. It will stream over the interwebs, I’m sure, so I could theoretically watch the wedding at 4 am and the build-up during the night before that. After all, I did last time. A lot of us did. I suppose that’s what has us all conflicted.
Charles and Diana married one month shy of my 15th birthday, back in July of 1981. Like so much of the 80s, everything about it was over the top. The dress, the romance, the freaking glass carriage. That royal wedding was Xanadu and Sixteen Candles rolled up into one giant puffy-sleeved confection of glam.
Yes, I stayed up all night. I had a slumber party, even. My stepdad set up a tv in my room and my best girlfriends and I stayed up, ate junk food and mooned over how princesses really did exist. It was lovely and perfect.
And all a lie.
I think that’s what gets us now. We knew that we didn’t get to be princesses, really. Despite what Disney told us, we learned that no one really got to marry the prince and live in the castle. We were cool with the reality of it. Sure, fine, whatever.
Then Diana did. And she was all we could want in a princess. Pretty, demure, fabulous dresser. They offered us the fairytale ending and we gobbled it up. We gobbled up the Happily Ever After, too. I think, on some level, at 14 I believed Charles and Diana would be forever a part of my life. They’d become King and Queen and have little princes and princesses, an ongoing fairytale.
Instead, we all know what happened. Maybe what’s most surprising is that we ever fell for the fairytale at all.
So, here we are, almost exactly thirty years later. We carry our cynicism like an armor in an uncertain world. The glam of the 80s looks tinny compared to the realities of our polarized country and economic woes. Sure – let William and Kate get married. More power to them. Maybe it will help that they seem to like each other, that they picked each other out, that she’s not a sheltered 20. Maybe they’ll form a good union and become the leaders we hoped for.
Maybe, they too, are cynical and sorry to be that way.
No, I won’t stay up to watch.
(But I will look at pictures of her dress. The giddy 14 year-old in me demands it.)