Locals Awash in Tea and Tears Over the Royal Wedding
God save the queen, the prince, the new princess and the brave ladies who rose before dawn, donned frocks and bonnets and assembled at the Inn at Bryant House in Aberdeen for the wedding of the 11-year-old century.
Friday morning was cool and damp — quite British, in fact. Tea, scones and sweet dainties graced the table, presided over by an ice sculpture: entwined rings, carved by Chris Currier, of Sandhills Community College.
Donations solicited at the event will benefit tornado relief in North Carolina.
“We love the royals,” says innkeeper Ashley Baker. Baker and her mum, Shirley Starkey, mounted the event in honor of Starkey’s sister, a London resident until her recent death.
“She would have eaten this up,” says Baker.
Unlike the wedding, the public was invited. Baker expected an on-the-way-to-work crowd later in the morning. But only a dozen unreconstructed colonials circled the flat-screen HDTV at 5:30 a.m.
“It’s a girl thing,” says Cathy Notareschi.
“I’m nosy, and I like scones,” quips Carla Lawson.
“I was up before the alarm went off,” Sara Coppola adds. “I saw the coronation (of Queen Elizabeth II), Princess Diana’s wedding and funeral. They’re sort of like the Kennedys.” Besides, Coppola continued, “It’s more fun sharing things like this than sitting at home.”
From underneath a wide straw brim Marian Baker expressed kinship: “My maiden name is Hargrove; I’m of English ancestry.”
Nobody thought the hype overdone.
“We watched Will grow up,” Baker said. “This couple is so refreshing, a combination of historic and modern.”
The buzz as Princes William and hottie Harry arrived centered around hair: Harry’s spikes and Will’s lack thereof. Gasps (and the passing of Kleenex) greeted Kate Middleton as she disembarked from the Queen’s 1955 maroon Rolls-Royce. Opinions on “The Dress,” “The Hairstyle,” “The Veil” and “The Miniscule Bouquet” ran from achingly beautiful to understated-but-appropriate to quite plain, later echoed by fashion commentators. Some thought Princess Catherine might have made a bolder statement or, at least, lost the pointy strapless top.
As for the monarch, “I like yellow flowers but it’s a hard color to wear,” Notareschi says.
Difficulty in slipping the Welch gold ring past Kate’s knuckle elicited squeals of mock horror, recalling Princess Diana’s stumble over her groom’s full name.
Guests wandered to the refreshment table during the sermon and hymns, returning for the recessional, which brought more tears and raves about Kate’s younger sister, Pippa Middleton. Was Prince Harry giving her the eye?
Beth Massey, a former history teacher, expressed admiration for the younger royals. “They’re moving into modern times.” Massey’s mate Cheryl Mensch saw another plus: “A celebration like this helps the English economy.”
Meanwhile, back in Pinehurst, Daughters of the British Empire enjoyed a “proper English breakfast” (bangers, streaky bacon, eggs, beans, fried tomatoes) at the home of Robbie North. A tiered wedding cake and engagement ring replica centered the table. Hats were de rigueur here, as in the Abbey. Annie Hallinan picked up her fashionably askew feathers at Harrods. Lisa Schrank wore a veiled beauty from San Francisco.
As the ladies sipped champers (mimosas, this side of the pond), they exchanged superlatives and engaged in respectful gossip:
Schrank observed the dearth of prominent Americans among the guests.
Patricia Dunne-Towne, a royal photographer during the 1980s, noticed the Nottingham lace on Kate’s dress.
“Majestic, elegant …” were Dunne-Towne’s superlatives.
An aging Princess Anne rated a groan.
Lynne Lain, in apple green from head to toe, got up at 3 a.m.
“I was there,” says Lain.
All praised Kate’s classic gown, especially compared with Princess Diana’s, which, Lain said “…was a disaster — looked like a silk parachute.”
Queen Elizabeth rated sympathetic kudos after years of family upheavals. Schram thought the most poignant moment was when Kate curtsied to the queen, who bowed in return.
The famed kiss — two, actually, “just a peck” — left the ladies cold.
All things considered, Stephanie Franklin, just back from London, saw the wedding as an antidote to austerity measures imposed by Prime Minister Cameron (whose wife did not wear a hat).
“People are despondent, demoralized,” Franklin says. But the wedding excited even anti-monarchists. “We feel like (Kate) is one of us. This makes us proud to be British.”
Contact Deborah Salomon at email@example.com.
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