Friday, April 29, 2011

Nobody Does it Better: A Royal Wedding Fit For, Well, The Royals! The Mad Hatter Is Alive and Well in London Town

The Day
The day started for me a bit later than I'd planned. I had the alarm set for 4:00 a.m. but didn't get up until 5:30 New York time. By then, Westminster Abbey was mostly filled and Princes William and Harry were just arriving at the church. Some lesser royals were being escorted to their seats and Kate was still at the Goring Hotel. Phew! I hadn't missed much except the parade of hats which luckily would be covered throughout the day.

My first glimpse of Kate was at 5:53 as she left the hotel and discreetly entered the 1950 Rolls Royce (on loan from the Queen) accompanied by her father who I thought looked a bit like Harrison Ford. It was apparent as the car proceeded to the Abbey, that her wedding attire would not be like Diana's but a simpler, more elegant gown and veil. Her hair was down and I heard a commentator say that she wanted to look more like herself than overly 'done-up' like many brides choose to do.

Ivanka Trump
The Queen and Prince Philip left Buckingham Palace around the same time and arrived just before the bride-to-be. The Queen wore all yellow in a dress, coat and hat ensemble designed by Angela Kelly with a diamond brooch. Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles were already inside. Camilla looked lovely in a light blue pleated coat with Ivory hat and dress. They walked down the aisle together and took their place at the right side of the aisle opposite but facing the Middleton family.

Julie Andrews in 
The Sound of Music
The Dress, Veil, Jewelry
Kate wore a lace topped and satin dress designed by Sarah Burton, chief creative director from the design house of Alexander McQueen. McQueen committed suicide last year. The dress was compared to Princess Grace's wedding gown by many but I also thought it looked like the wedding gown worn by Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music' or the dress worn by Ivanka Trump at her wedding. I've supplied the images, you can decide. The Cartier ‘halo’ tiara was also on loan from the Queen. It was given to the queen at the age of 18 by her mother, the Queen Mum who originally received it from her husband King George VI in 1936. It was delicate and looked lovely with the veil made with layers of soft, ivory silk tulle trimmed with hand-embroidered flowers. The diamond earrings by Robinson Pelham were designed to complement the tiara and contained oak leaves and an acorn suspended in the center. The earrings were a wedding gift from Kate's parents.
Princess Grace

The Attendants
There were four young bridesmaids (in the U.S. they would be called flower girls) in simple dresses with pleated skirts and crowns of flowers in their hair. Two adorable young boys in red waistcoats were the pages. They were led in by the Maid of Honor and sister of the bride, Pippa or Phillippa Middleton. When Kate arrived (on time) Pippa emerged from the church and smoothed and arranged her veil. Pippa's dress, also designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, was an ivory satin-based crepe form-fitting column dress with a cowl neck. She wore her hair down but pulled back with an ornate clip. It's the tradition in England for attendants to wear white.

Pippa and company
The Music
Very little about the wedding was disappointing to me but I will say that I didn't like the entrance and recessional music. I thought they were bit slow and not festive enough. Apparently the music was under the purview of Prince Charles. I had a hard time finding the names and composers of the main pieces but familiar hymns were sung throughout by the choirs. The choirs and music during the ceremony were traditional and perfect for the occasion.

The Ceremony
It took 4 minutes to walk down the aisle arriving at the altar at 6:08. William did not turn but Prince Harry did sneak a peek and said something to his brother with a big smile. When Prince William saw Kate, he told her she looked beautiful and then the ceremony was about to begin. I was surprised that the vows were taken almost immediately and also surprised at the length of Prince Williams name: William Arthur Philip Louis. It was a single ring ceremony and William had trouble getting the ring on her finger, not sure why! It took less than 20 minutes to announce that they were husband and wife. You could hear the crowds outside let out a roar. Kate's brother James did a reading and the Bishop of London gave the address. The bride and groom and both families went to the back of the church to sign the registry.

The Flowers and Decor
Westminster Abbey is historic and elegant without any adornment, but for the occasion was outfitted with eight 20 feet-high trees: six English Field Maple and two Hornbeam. The trees were in planters with mini-lily's growing at the base. The flowers and plants will be left in position in Westminster Abbey for the public to view until Friday, May 6. Then some of the trees will be taken to Highgrove Gardens, where they will be planted. Many of the plants and flowers will be donated to charities or re-planted. On the altar, small green hydrangeas mixed with the tiny lilies, could be seen in the background. Overhead shots of the ceremony revealed a black and white checkered floor. Kate's bouquet contained myrtle, lily-of-the-valley, sweet William and hyacinth. The bouquet was designed by Shane Connolly with the traditions of flowers that had meaning  for both families.

Princess Beatrice
Victoria Beckham
The Hats
My first glimpse of the 'hats' came when I spotted Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie sitting behind  the Queen looking a bit like English 'tarts.' Oh my. Many of the hats were designed by Philip Treacy including a more demure one worn by Victoria Beckham whom I spotted in the crowd of church guests. The Queen, Camilla and Carol Middleton, the bride's mum, wore conservative hats. Carol's ensemble was by Catherine Walker, who was one of Princess Diana's favorite designers.

The Vehicles
1950 Rolls Royce: In 1949, Rolls Royce received an order from the Duke of Edinburgh for a limousine. The company, aware that Daimler had been the royal vehicle since 1900, wanted to make the best car possible. The royal vehicle was then hand-built on a stretched Silver Wraith chassis. When completed in July 1950 its delivery was accompanied by a public announcement thus breaking the Daimler monopoly stating the Phantom IV had been "designed to the special order of Their Royal Highness's, the Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh. Kate arrived at the church in this historic car.

Aston Martin: Prince William and Kate drove away from the crowds in William’s father’s Aston Martin DB6 Volante. The DB6 was only built for a few years, in the mid to late 1960s, although the familiar grille is reminiscent of the DB4 and DB5.

1902 State Landau carriage:  This same carriage carried Prince Charles and Princess Diana, back to the palace following their wedding at St. Paul's Cathedral on June 29, 1981. Built in 1881 by Hoopers for King Edward VII's coronation. It is an open-top carriage that moves in a circular motion as it being pulled by horses.

The Kiss
There were two! Very demure and sweet. The crowd loved it!

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