Monday, April 25, 2011

Royal Wedding Week

I am a bona-fide Anglophile. I have been since 1980. That was the fall that I was given the opportunity to spend the summer of 1981 in England. My brother & sister-in-law were both in the Air Force and were to be transferred to Alconbury AFB that June. They had two small children ages 4 and 6 years old, and needed a nanny for the summer. I was ecstatic! I was extremely lucky to have a college English professor who was also an Anglophile and she was delighted to set up an upper level independent study course for me in English Culture. I was to spend my spring semester learning everything I could about the history of England and it's people. I spent hours studying the monarchy. I poured over maps of England, learning geography. My brother and sister-in-law had already decided to look off base for housing in an English village, so I was to be truly immersed in the culture. How could life get any better? Then came February 24th, 1981. The day that Prince Charles announced to the world his engagement to Lady Diana Spencer. And best of all.....a wedding day was set.....for July 29th, 1981. I would be in England during their largest event of the century! It was a wonderful time to visit England. The pride and joy was apparent everywhere. We did end up in fact, in a quite small English village called Alwalton. Alwalton is located about 5 miles west of Peterborough, 65 miles north of London, 15 miles north of Alconbury AFB. So the kids and I really were fairly secluded in the village during the day when their parents were working. I had no car to use, and the nearest train station was in Peterborough. There was a bus you could catch into Peterborough or down to Huntingdon, the village next to Alconbury. But with myself only 18 years old and 2 little ones in tow, that did not happen. So we explored the countryside and village. And when the village threw a "Fancy Dress" fete in honor of the royal wedding, we went. A fete is an English festival, often held outdoors, and Fancy Dress means costume, so my niece and nephew went as a prairie girl and a cowboy. Our weekends were spent sightseeing, visiting numerous villages and cities. Seeing as much as we could cram into one brief summer. There were souvenirs everywhere depicting Charles & Diana. I came home with several newspapers, linens with their images stamped on them, photo books of the wedding and a beautiful heart shaped Wedgwood box in cornflower blue with raised white silhouettes of the couple. The wedding itself we decided to forgo. London was packed. Instead we spent the day at the house party of a fellow Air Force family who lived in Huntingdon. We watched it all unfold on television, just as I will this Friday morning at 3am. It won't be the same however. There was something about just being on English soil that made that 1981 wedding magical for me. That and the thought of witnessing "happily ever after" occur to a young girl who was only 14 months older than myself. Of course now we know, "happily ever after" was not to be for Diana. But this Friday the bride is older, more experienced, marrying a man who wasn't forced to choose a young, virginal bride he didn't love. Maybe we will get to witness "happily ever after" this time. This is one Anglophile who is truly hoping to hear Kate addressed as "Queen Catherine" one day.

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