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Good Show, William and Kate! A List of Royal Wedding Highlights

by Maureen Ryan, posted Apr 29th 2011 10:45AM
Prince William and Kate MiddletonAs I said in a piece earlier this week, the British royal family knows how to put on a great production, but my expectations were exceeded by the flawless, joyous wedding of Prince William and the former Kate Middleton on Friday morning.

If you enjoy pomp, ceremony, pageantry, fashion and glimpses of august English institutions doing what they do best, Friday's wedding was wonderfully satisfying. The perfectly polished horse-drawn carriages on the Mall, the sweet outfits of the pageboys and bridesmaids, Kate's classy gown, the trumpet fanfares, the grandeur of the tree-lined Westminster Abbey -- it was all heavenly for this Anglophile.

Even people who don't normally go for that sort of thing were grudgingly impressed. "Nicely done, monarchy!" Time's James Poniewozik tweeted.

The Abbey, which was dotted with trees and soft greenery, was both majestic and inviting, the traditional ceremony was lovely and not too stodgy, and during the post-ceremony carriage rides, London looked terrific. The balcony kisses and the ceremonial flybys from British planes were the perfect cappers to a picture-perfect day.

Sometimes we turn to television to be educated, to be informed or to examine at life's darker mysteries, but sometime we just want to immerse ourselves in pretty diversions that lift the spirits. The wedding, an impressive feat of both logistics and aesthetics, was a chance to do the latter.

Below is a bullet list of some observations about the ceremony:

• Huw Edwards, who led the coverage by the BBC (which was carried in the U.S. by BBC America), was outstanding. Don't ask me what I thought of the other commentators on other networks, because once I had Huw, they weren't worth bothering with. I had meant to skip around to see what the coverage was like on other networks, but the Beeb's coverage was so well done and so appropriately calm and orderly that I stuck with it all morning. And he knew when to not talk, which I take it was a problem with commentators on other networks, unsurprisingly. I definitely did not need to hear Piers Morgan adding his two cents, that would have half-spoiled the event for me. (By the way, you can watch video highlights of the ceremony here.)

• Now, on to the important thing: Kate's dress. I am a lover of all things retro, and this was a very classic, 1950s style, one that recalled the old-school glamor of Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor. It was lovely and struck just the right understated note for this wedding. The bride's dress, the flowers and the decoration of the abbey all looked very soft, welcoming and warm. This wasn't the moment for a big, showy statement dress; this was the moment to look like a future queen, and Kate pulled it off beautifully.

• Having said that, I would bet that Kate secretly wishes she could have worn her sister Pippa's bridesmaid's dress. It had the clean lines and modern elegance that Kate tends to favor in her wardrobe choices, and it fit Pippa like a dream. Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen did a fabulous job with both dresses, and it's a tribute to McQueen, who died much too young, that his fashion house was represented at the wedding.

• The pageboy outfits and the tiny bridesmaid dresses were beyond adorable. Also, I am not a fan of loud noises, so I can relate to the plight of the Tiny Frowning Bridesmaid on the balcony.

• As expected, the wedding guests brought the crazy when it came to their hats. Princess Beatrice's Philip Treacy concoction took the cake for craziest headgear, in my opinion. (For more fashion coverage, I'll be hitting refresh on a couple of my favorite sites, Tom and Lorenzo and Go Fug Yourself, all day long.)

• Fun fact: Today is also the wedding anniversary of myself and my husband (who is English). I have no problem with William and Kate copying us, and now I want to return the favor by going back in time and putting trees into the church where we got married 11 years ago. The trees lent a romantic, natural note to the proceeding. I wonder what will happen to the trees after the ceremony. Will they be sold on eBay? Or will they be planted in a public park? If anyone knows anything about the future of those trees, do tell in comments. (UPDATE: Thanks to @SKovbo on Twitter for sending this link to an excellent article about the trees and flowers used in the wedding and where they'll end up.)

Prince William and Kate Middleton• Hmmm, I'm not an expert at parsing royal titles, but it was announced Friday that William will henceforth be known as the HRH Duke of Cambridge (among other titles) and Kate will be the HRH Duchess of Cambridge. There was some talk before the wedding that she might be given the title princess. Personally, I'd be fine with settling for Duchess, but is Kate not getting the Princess title some kind of royal dis? I doubt it, but as I say, I'm no expert in these matters of protocol. In any event, maybe she'll become known as Princess Catherine at some point down the road (perhaps when she begins having royal kids).

• As the wedding unfolded with clockwork precision, I keep imaging an army of ferocious wedding planners and royal retainers with clipboards checking things off lists and keeping everything going exactly to plan. One has to have sympathy for the logistics involved in this event -- they put anyone else's nuptials to shame, unless you're some kind of pop star or potentate spending millions on the big day. Even then, the eyes of the world aren't on every single thing that happens. The fact that every single thing went exactly right and that everyone involved acted with such aplomb is a tribute to both the organizational skills of the planners and the "keep calm and carry on" British spirit.

• So did the people in the Abbey with obstructed views DVR the whole thing? I hope so, because you couldn't see a darned thing from so much of the Abbey. And as @AmyinSydney noted on Twitter, the large number of huge hats in the Abbey also made it hard for guests to see anything. Toward the end of the ceremony, I saw a screen showing the ceremony to those with really, really obstructed views, but I'm guessing the majority of the guests in the Abbey couldn't see much of anything, aside from other guests.

• There are certain things that you can depend on in this world, and you can certainly depend on Queen Elizabeth to sport tasteful ensembles in solid colors with matching hats, sensible pumps and a boxy purse. The woman has her look and she works it. Don't ever change, Liz.

• It was a worldwide media event and served as great public relations for the royal family, but at the center of it were two people who looked happy (and relieved) to be married. When the couple walked down the aisle together at Westminster Abbey, Kate was simply beaming and glowing as a new bride should, and William's bashful smiles were just charming. Yes, there are a lot of terrible things going on in the world. But this was a chance to enjoy a happy event for a couple of hours, and then go back to the messy business of real life. I don't know about you, but I'm grateful I got to vicariously experience this cheering event, which was lovely in dozens of ways.

• Please, add your thoughts and list your favorite royal wedding moments below!

Follow @MoRyan on Twitter.

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I completely agree that Beatrice's hat was the worst! I actually share several of your thoughts... http://www.thetalkingbox.com/2011/05/random-thoughts-royal-wedding.html

May 02 2011 at 12:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Marcia Stevens

Thanks for recommending BBC. I did as you did. Couldn't leave them, they were so professional. Their on the street reporters should give our reporters lessons on interviewing. Also, heard you had to have some royal blood to be a princess.

May 01 2011 at 8:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Michelle, both you and Pat are correct that Catherine cannot be called "Princess Kate" because unlike Beatrice and Eugenie, she was not born a princess. But, she can be called "Princess William" like Princess Michael of Kent because she is married to a prince. Even when William becomes Prince of Wales, she will be Catherine, Princess of Wales and not Princess Catherine. Crazy, maybe but protocol, definitely.

May 01 2011 at 4:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michelle Bird

I enjoyed the coverage by the BBC tremendously and I was incredibly proud to be British. I do have comments regarding some of the earlier posts.

Pat - Catherine's official title is The Duchess of Cambridge and that is it, the other titles belong to Prince William. She is NOT a Princess as you did mention but she will not automatically become a Princess when William becomes H.R.H. The Prince of Wales. The title has to be bestowed by the Queen or King if it is not a birth right.

LuneCarmin - How can you complain about the cost of the wedding when you are not even British ! For your information the Royal family cost the average British taxpayer 65 pence a year which is approximately 73 cents in Euro currency. The wedding was paid for mainly by the Royal family and The Middletons. The security was paid for by the British taxpayers and it worked out to something like 2 pence per person. If it angers you please feel free to return to France.

April 30 2011 at 6:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Michelle Bird's comment


Sorry, I didn't mean to offend you. It's just that I don't understand all that fuss around the wedding of two people who are humanly very ordinary, just like you and me and 99% of the rest of the world (approximately).

What made you think I was in England ? I am not even in Europe. But even on the other side of the world, this week-end it was impossible to watch TV without seeing this wedding. And I don't need to be British to find that it's ridiculous to spend so much money in a wedding. If this wedding have been paid for mainly by the Royal family, what I would like to know is how can they be so rich ? (Queen Elizabeth estimated personal fortune is around £350 million (US $525M).

Anyway I have been in England, it's a beautiful country with very nice people. A little bit too much rain for my taste and maybe you should learn how to cook but you really have great music and know how to have fun.

April 30 2011 at 9:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Craig Ranapia

"Huw Edwards, who led the coverage by the BBC (which was carried in the U.S. by BBC America), was outstanding. "

Here in New Zealand, I was flicking between TVNZ (which was carrying the BBC's coverage) and Three (ITV). Really have to pay tribute to both networks. The more complex a set-up you have (and both the BBC & ITV had hundreds of reporters and camera crews on the job), the more chances there are for a horribly embarrasing tech FUBAR at exactly the wrong moment.

April 30 2011 at 5:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Craig Ranapia

"Now, on to the important thing: Kate's dress. I am a lover of all things retro, and this was a very classic, 1950s style, one that recalled the old-school glamor of Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor. It was lovely and struck just the right understated note for this wedding."

OK. I'm going to have to hand in my fashionista toaster oven, because I was certain that Alexander McQueen (Sarah Burton was named head designer/creative director after McQueen committed suicide) would be deemed "too radical". I've got to disagree with your assessment of the dress there -- I HATED the lace sleeves, but overall I think it was fresh and contemporary in the best sense. Just enough trademark McQueen theatricality without making her look like Lady Gaga. I suspect Burton has finally erased the last question marks over whether she could take on the mantle of the bad boy of British fashion.

April 30 2011 at 5:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Karen Lawler

Can't figure out how to edit or delete and replace last comment so I could get the link to work, so double posting here...


April 30 2011 at 4:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Karen Lawler

I was surprised how much I enjoyed watching the wedding (from my flat in London). Hadn't thought I'd watch it at all. But although the dress was awesome, and the couple looked happy, the most enjoyable part for me was the cultural moment...this common experience that I'm sure will be the topic of many 'did you watch the wedding? Where did you watch? What did you think' conversations for the next couple of weeks here. And it must be said, I had a very nice time snarking at the coverage, especially when for all intents and purposes the most interesting thing on the screen was a car continuing a five minute drive down an empty London street. There's nothing like newscasters making up stuff to report on. :)

PS thought you might enjoy this article on the dress and the modern monarchy in the guardian (if you haven't read it already) :http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/apr/30/mcqueen-royal-wedding-dress-modern-kate

April 30 2011 at 4:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Fore me, every people are equal, I don't respect someone just because he's a king or a prince (or rich ). This is why I don't understand this kind of pretentious ceremony. We are in a period of global economic crisis (specialy in england) and I really don't want to know the cost of such a ceremony!!
But, maybe I can't understand because I am french and we have cut the head of our last king (it was a long time ago, there is a statutory limitation!).

(Excuse my english, it's not my first language).

April 29 2011 at 9:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A couple of comments: I thought Kate and William looked very comfortable with each other;. They are a lovely young couple.

Regarding coverage: The British do pomp so well and it is fun to watch at a time when American exceptionalism is on a fast downhill slide. What I watched today was the British Monarch changing with the times, and it will be done starting now with a future king and his gracious new bride.

And, Harry, honey. Hook up with Pippa, please.

April 29 2011 at 7:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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