Mostly, that was due to the fact that I was a nerd and did homework instead of party, but in conjunction, I simply cannot function well with less than six hours of sleep. Combine this with the fact that I don’t drink coffee and until a year ago did not drink tea, and you have someone who does not use artificial stimulants and has a low-tolerance for sleep-deprivation, i.e. insanely grumpy. So my cardinal rule is sleeping wins out over fun in all but the rarest of cases.
Which would include, of course, a royal wedding.
On April 29, 2011, I moved all of my furniture to the edges of my living room, cushioning the floor with every blanket I owned. Around 8 p.m., there were five of us, wearing pajama pants and eating chocolate and snack foods while watching The Princess Diaries. We turned on the television at 1 am to start watching coverage of the royal wedding.
America loves the traditions of Great Britain in two slightly different ways. One, we’re a little self-righteous, thinking their ways are archaic like Grandma’s rules. At the same time, we’re jealous, since our history is so brief and so full of sparks and brashness. Sometimes we ache for some staid, rigid, unemotional pomp and circumstance. Like a wedding.
I’m a pretty common American in that I have a soft spot for the royals. To me, they’re like adorable puppies at the pet store. Puppies I can hold and cuddle and coo at, but I can leave and not have to clean up the messes. I’m aware of the issues that most modern and liberal British folk have with the royals. The royal family is expensive, entitled, and basically pointless. They serve no true purpose other than tradition and occasionally morale (Pippa, anyone?). But my stupid American perspective is, “Yay! A princess!”
Maybe part of the draw is that, in the land where you can be anything if you just dream hard enough, you can never be a princess. Unless you’re Grace Kelly, and let’s be real: you’ll never be Grace Kelly.
London is eight hours ahead, and so the wedding started at 3 am. By that time, we had watched the motorcade take the royals past onlookers screaming with joy. The princes looked dashing in their uniforms. Even poor Camilla, much begrudged and mocked, looked lovely. Finally, the bride arrived, with an exquisite lace-sleeved gown. She hid any nerves and was as beautiful and calm as any princess should have been.
(And yes, I know she’s a duchess. Lay off.)
That night, after all of my fellow wedding watchers had drifted off to sleep, I was still awake, watching the traditional vows and readings take place in Westminster Abbey. It was formal and stately, just as I expected. No dancing down the aisle here; save that for trashy American weddings. The wedding was truly lovely, and somehow, because of all of the crowds and the news coverage, you actually felt like you were part of something huge. Something memorable.
I realized something, though, at 5 am, knowing I had to get up in two hours to get to work. I never wanted to be a princess.
I may have dressed like one at some point during my formative years. I seem to remember a beautiful (read: 80s terrible) prom dress that I wore quite often, but I feel like I was usually a debutante in that scenario. Most often, I was a teacher, teaching my “students” (stuffed animals, and later, baby brother) to “read.” I was a fairly realistic child.
I wasn’t really a princess kind of girl.
Princesses were pretty, but they didn’t do much. I mean, I grew up pre-Jasmine, and definitely pre-Mulan, and so far before this new Scottish girl who looks awesome. The princesses also didn’t think very much or have many opinions of their own. They weren’t allowed to; the kingdom was at stake. They were more often the prize for a brave man or the bearer of heirs. Not exactly something to aspire to.
Now, as an adult, I look at Kate the Duchess of Cambridge and I think, I am so glad I’m not her. Granted, she wears pretty clothes and Diana’s ring on her finger, but she has to wear heels all the time, and always smile, and she better stay thin or else the papers will get her, and who knows if she ever gets to do anything because she wants to and not because someone needs to take a photo of her doing something. She doesn’t live in real life. She’s a former “commoner” who married someone who might become king someday. I don’t think the trade-off is that good.
When I went to Great Britain two weeks later, the country still had Wills and Kate fever. You could buy mugs, plates, flags, t-shirts, all with their likenesses. Also, available: masks of their faces. I saw a Jelly Bean portrait of the two of them, the artist unkindly using off-white jelly beans for William’s teeth. And St. Andrews had a lovely “W + K” flower homage as you entered the college town where they met.
A year has past, and they continue to be in the tabloids, though it’s insanely unlikely that any of our trashy ‘zines have sources in the royal family. People are speculating on their relationship with each other and with the Queen Mum, when they’ll have kids. And I think about Kate and what she feels like. I hope she loves her husband with her whole heart, because she’d be crazy to become a princess for any other reason.
Me, I think I’ll be a teacher.