I remember the last time we in the UK got a day off to watch a Royal Wedding. It was 1981 and the wedding in question was that of Prince Charles and Lady Diana. Today, exactly thirty years later William, the eldest son of Prince Charles, married Kate Middleton.
I know England is most known for its ancient traditions, its resistance to radical change, its preservation of the past but what struck me most as I watched the Royal Wedding on TV today was just how much has actually changed in thirty years. Not the buildings which look exactly the same thanks to the builders and the painters; not the finery which saw the happy couple riding in a carriage which looked identical to the one in which William’s parents rode on their wedding day… None of that had changed. But the people…. the people had changed. A lot.
In 1981 Prince Charles had been a slim youth with thick, dark hair; today he was a wrinkled, balding old geezer. In 1981 Diana had been vibrant with life; today she was absent having tragically died in a car crash more than a decade ago. In 1981 Camilla had been a shadow in the background; today she was present as Prince Charles’s new wife. In 1981 William, Kate, Harry and all of the new generation of Royals were not even thought of; today they took centre stage. They should enjoy it while they can; in thirty years time it will be their turn to be wrinkly and white-haired. That’s if they’re lucky!
I suppose the reason today seemed so poignant to me was because I’ve also changed beyond recognition since 1981. Back then I was a skinny school kid with no worries, no responsibilities. Thirty years on and I’m a middle-aged bloke with bills to pay and a job to hold down. Time gets to us all, Royal or not. So basically we’re all in the same boat. The Princes and the Princesses riding in their carriages will all get old and die just like you and me.
So while we’re here, we may as well try to have a good time I suppose. Luckily, the bar in Buckingham Palace has got a late licence. I think I’ll head down there.