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Friday, 29 April 2011

Royal Wedding - there is no escape!

Prince George of Wales aged 18
I'm not a great fan of weddings at the best of times; I don't ever remember having what is often described as 'every girl's dream' about walking down the aisle in a big white dress. In my immediate family there has only been one church wedding in the last hundred years. So perhaps it's hereditary, but. for whatever reason, I have never discovered my inner Bridezilla. And although I remain bemused by all the fuss, I can't deny that most people seem to enjoy a good wedding, and it's a good excuse for a party, which I'm all in favour of. Today is of course Royal Wedding day, and we got a bank holiday out of it, which I'm also in favour of.

I can admit to being slightly interested in Prince William, because he is a few days younger than my younger son, so I was pregnant at the same time as Princess Diana. If I had a daughter she was going to be Elizabeth, and I was worried that if Diana had a girl, she might be Elizabeth too, and people would think I'd copied the royals. I was very relieved that we both produced boys.

Prince George of Wales aged 25
It is hard to grow up in Britain without having at least a basic grasp of the genealogy of the royal family, and if you become interested in history and genealogy, as I did, it comes with the territory. A few days ago the Prince of Wales was in the news when he became the longest-serving heir-apparent to the British throne, exceeding the record set by Edward VII, at 59 years, 2 months and 13 days. Naturally parallels have been drawn between Prince Charles and Edward, his great-great grandfather, but that set me thinking about parallels between Prince William and his great-great grandfather, George V. I came across a set of pictures of Prince George of Wales, as he then was, in the Strand magazine of 1891. Most pictures of George V show him with the full beard that he sported for his adult life, like the one on the left, when we was 25, but in the top picture, when he was 18, he is clean-shaven, and I was struck by the resemblance between him and Prince William. What they also have in common was that they both married at the age of 28, while serving in the armed forces - George was in the royal Navy - and while their grandmother was queen.

The parallels don't go all the way, though; George was married to Princess Mary of Teck in the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace, not Westminster Abbey, and he was the second son, not the eldest, his elder brother having died of pneumonia in the flu pandemic of 1889-92. What remains to be seen is whether the newlyweds emulate the example of George and Mary in having a long and devoted marriage. Royalist or republican, no-one would begrudge them that.

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