Pride without Prejudice

Apr 27, 2011, 12:36 PM |


    In just two days from now, on Friday 29 April at 11a.m. the eyes of the world will once again be focused on London and the royal family when Prince William Windsor marries Miss Kate (Catherine) Middleton. This time, the world-stage is not St Paul's Cathedral where his mother the Princess Diana married his father, the Prince of Wales, but rather, Westminster Abbey where his grandmother (the queen) was married and, indeed, crowned Queen.


   It is the perfect choice, the very root of Britannia, for entombed here are some 3000 monarchs and famous Britons dating back more than a 1000 years. They will wed, not only in the company of the living, but in the company of huge names like Geoffrey Chaucer, Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, David Livingstone and many more ~ not to mention a great many notable Kings and Queens of England since the beginning of the last millenium.


   Kate Middleton, a commoner from Berkshire, will emerge at Westminster Abbey on this morning, with her father, from a Rolls Royce belonging to the Queen and, unlike Princess Diana who had to climb a whole flight of steps into St Paul's, will have just two, worn shallow stone steps up from the pavement as she walks through the ancient heavy wooden doors, under the pointed Gothic archway, and into the Abbey to become a princess, a wife and into history as a future Queen of England.


   It is a time of pride and of no prejudice ~ a hundred years ago such a marriage would have been unheard of ~ but on this day, all England will be behind them, with them, and for them.


   I have read, and just recently watched Pride & Prejudice, the BBC's 6 part adaption of Jane Austen's classic masterpiece account of marriage and class which is available to download and on DVD at modest cost since it is all of 15 years old; it is THREE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN minutes of superb entertainment, and it shows just how far we've come. 


   Set, in the early 19th Century before emancipation, it was a time when the best a girl could hope for was to marry a wealthy landowner for his money rather than for love (which never really entered into the equation in those days) and nobody married outside of their own class.


   It has to be said that Colin Firth is, by far, the best Mr Darcy and Jennifer Ehle a stunningly attractive Miss Elizabeth Bennet possessing (and radiating) an unrivalled inner beauty of colossal magnitude ~ I could have fallen for her myself. J


   It was a chivalrous age of exceedingly good conduct and manners, a time of pride, and of prejudice. Being set in the early 1800s and running into the Regency period, it was a time when class and breeding meant everything. It is the story of one man's pride and of one man's prejudice, that man is Mr Darcy ~ but all ends well ~ he comes to terms with his pride and he overcomes his prejudice!


   This may give a flavour and entice you to obtain the series. . .




   If, like me, you are a purist, beware and avoid the American Keira Knightley film of 2005, it was made with two endings, one for Europe, and a more sugary one for US consumption ~ neither version was particularly well received and the Jane Austen Society of North America stated that it was "inconsistent" and that it "insults the audience with its banality." Be sure to see the BBC's production with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle and I am sure you will approve ~ check-out the IMDB ratings if you're in any doubt!


   Anyway, on Friday, no longer a rarity, it will all happen again with William and Kate.


   The first of their 1900 wedding guests will arrive at the Great North Door and enter the Abbey to take their seats at 8.15a.m. and all, except VIPs, will be seated by 9.50 ~ in the 30 minutes that follow Governors-general, Prime Ministers and Diplomatic Corps from other countries all over the world will arrive together with other distinguished guests which will include David Beckham and his wife Victoria among others.


    At 10.10 the bridegroom Prince William and the best man, his brother Prince Harry will leave Clarence House arriving at the Abbey just 5 minutes later at 10.15. At 1020 Kings, Queens and other members of foreign royal families from countries all over the globe will arrive from Buckingham Palace. At the same time the bride's mother, Carole Middleton, and her brother David will leave The Goring to arrive 7 minutes later at 10.27 followed at 1030 by our own minor Royals.


   At 1035 Princess Anne and her husband, Vice-Admiral Tim Laurence (a man I got to know and work with when he was the young captain of the type 23 frigate HMS Montrose) will leave the Palace together with the Princes Andrew and Edward, his wife Sophie, and the Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice, to arrive at 10.40 ~ at this time the Queen and Prince Philip will leave Buckingham Palace ~ the bridegroom's father, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall leaving from Clarence House just two minutes earlier, arriving at the Abbey just four minutes later at 10.42.


   1045 at Westminster Abbey will see the arrival of the Queen and Prince Philip and, just three minutes later, the Maid of Honour, the bride's sister Pippa Middleton, together with the bridesmaids and pages will leave The Goring to arrive at the Abbey at 1055.


   Here comes the bride! Kate and her father, Michael, leave The Goring at 1051 and will travel slowly to Westminster Abbey via The Mall and Horse Guards Parade to give the waiting crowds lining the route a first glimpse of THAT dress ~ the bride arrives at Westminster Abbey and the marriage service begins at 11a.m.


   They will emerge husband and wife at 12.15p.m. and (unless it rains) return to Buckingham Palace for the Wedding Breakfast in the same luxurious 1902 State Landau carriage that carried Prince Charles and Prince William's mother, the Princess Diana after their wedding almost thirty years ago. It will be drawn, as always, by four horses and under the protection of the Sovereign's Escort of the Household Cavalry. Should it rain, then it will be the Glass Coach.


   They should arrive at Buckingham Palace at 12.30p.m. for the Wedding Breakfast which will be hosted by the Queen.


   At 1.25p.m., the Queen and William and Kate, together with their families, are expected to break away to appear on the Palace balcony for that first public kiss.


   Five minutes later, at 1.30, the Royal Air Force will pay their respects and salute with a fly-past memorial flight led by a WWII Lancaster Bomber with a Spitfire on one wing and a Hurricane on the other. They will be followed by two Typhoons and two Tornado GR4s flying in box formation.


   I will have my own guests here ~ it promises to be quite a day! J


   Hard to imagine that this will one day be our Queen, and it is easy to see how she caught William’s eye. She modelled this dress whilst at St Andrews University way back in 2002 and, not surprisingly, it recently sold at auction for £65,000 and with the buyer's fee of  £13,000, it cost the winning bidder a total of £78,000, but it must be said, it looks nothing without her in it. 


   He paid £200 for a front row seat at the fashion show at St Andrews University where they were both studying and where she happened to be trying her hand at modelling; they became very good friends soon after her appearance on that catwalk.  


   Here's a taster (but not a spoiler) from thirty years ago, but remember, this was at St Pauls




    It's difficult to blog on Royal weddings and on Pride and Prejudice without making mention of Prince David who was recently brought back to mind in the King's Speech. He was of course the elder brother of Bertie the Prince Albert who went on to become King George VI.


   I speak, of course, of King Edward VIII who confronted the mother of all marriage and class issues at a time when to do so was very very difficult. It involved the love of his life, one Wallis Simpson, a twice-married, twice-divorced American girl from Pennsylvania for whom Edward gave up his kingdom and his empire in 1936 in order that they could become man and wife ~ here is his abdication speech.



   He was known thereafter as the Duke of Windsor and died in 1972. They had lived in Paris where Wallis subsequently died fourteen years later in 1986.  


   But back to the present day ~ and all best wishes for Kate and Wills on Friday.