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May 9, 2011

I Was Just Thinking: Some normalcy in the royals' fairy tale wedding


Daily Star

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Well, it's over. The wedding that is, not the marriage.

Prince William and his gal, Kate, are hitched and off on their fairy-tale life together as the new wave of monarchy representing all of England.

He is 28. She is 29.

Of course, the old Queen herself, 85, still has a white-gloved iron grip on the throne, and Will's dad, Charles, 62, still paces the halls of Windsor Castle waiting to get "the call." So the probability of Will and Kate being the king and queen (or whatever they'll be called) is certain, but way down the road yet.

The wedding was Disneyesque from start to finish. Was that really Prince William and his bride, Catherine, exiting the royal carriage and trodding the red carpet down the storied center aisle of Westminster Abbey? Or was it Prince Charming and Cinderella?

Did the royal trumpeters heralding the new couple have little mouse tails sticking out of the back of the red robes? Or was that in Beauty and the Beast? Oh well, as fairy tales go, this one was a glorious monster.

A million watched the ceremony from the sidewalks of London. Two billion of us sat home in our pajamas and underwear cheering the young couple on.

I must admit that even I got caught up in this one. I watched along with the world, awaiting the first glimpse of Kate's gown. Why? I have no idea. I am totally bereft of any fashion sense.

When "the dress" finally came into view, the announcer breathlessly declared, "Look! Look! It's French Chantilly with English Cluny and with a design homage to the Irish Carrickmacross tradition!" The poor bloke was almost in tears. As for me, "Carrickmacross" sounds more like something Jimmy Durante muttered under his breath when he got flustered.

The guest list was definitely A-list. And they were all turned out in splendid haute couture. And how about those hats! What is it about the British women and their hats? There were bird's nest, music lyres, peacock feathers and frou-frou galore on display at the Abbey that day.

Americans have never really gone hat crazy at major events, except the Kentucky Derby. And I can think of only two examples of historic hats that gained fame "on their own" over my lifetime. One was the iconic simple pink pillbox hat Jackie Kennedy was wearing Nov. 22, 1963. And the other was the uber-hat that Aretha Franklin wore at Barack Obama's inauguration.

That hat was a Frank Gehry-on-drugs tribute in gray, black and diamonds. The huge-bowed hat became her uninvited duet partner on "America the Beautiful." Hundreds were ordered in the weeks following the inauguration.

The Smithsonian Institution even requested the original for its permanent "inauguration exhibit."

Now, where was I? Oh, yes. The royals.

I wondered as I watched if they'd ever have a "real" moment again in their lives. Would they ever sneak into a West End chippy shop and order a plank with some mushy peas again? Would Will ever be able again to sneak into the Blind Beggar over on Whitechapel Road for a pint of Guinness? Would Kate ever be able to watch Monty Python again and roar at the cast's mocking of the royal family? Would there ever be another real moment for these two?

Well, I was heartened by what was the final scene of this storybook day. After the kisses on the royal balcony ("Look! They kissed twice," my favorite British commentator shrieked), there it was. A real moment.

Eschewing the traditional ride through London in the Cinderalla-inspired coach (again with the Disney nod), the gates popped open and out came William and Kate ... in a car!

How perfectly normal. Will driving, and Kate waving. Balloons fluttering from the radio antenna, cans rattling along behind them. "Just Wed" written on the back license plate. Yes, it seemed the most normal touch of the day. Heck, I think I even did the same thing on the day I got married.

Oh, to be sure, it was Dad's $100,000 purple 1969 Aston Martin Volante convertible. But still, how normal for the groom to whisk away his young bride in something as time-honored as the old man's car?

I wonder how that conversation went: "Um, your highness, um, er, I mean, Dad. Can I have the keys to the car tonight?" I am sure Prince Charles said something like, "Sure, your highness, um, er, I mean, son. But … keep your hands on the wheel (wink, wink)."

I'll catch you in two. ...

'Big Chuck' D'Imperio can be heard on weekdays beginning at 6 a.m. on WDOS-AM 730 in Oneonta, and also on Thursday nights from 7-9 p.m. on WSRK-FM 103.9 for his "Oldies Jukebox Show." You can find "Big Chuck" on Facebook under Upstate New York Books. He invites you to contact him at wdosbigchuck@aol.com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/bigchuck.