The Catherine Effect

There is no denying the influence of royal weddings. We will wear hats and dresses like those worn by the new Duchess of Cambridge. We will copy her skirt length, hairstyle, color trends. I know this first hand.

I fell for the hype of Lady Diana Spencer marrying her Prince – the self-confessed bachelor who dated a plethora of women before deciding to wed in 1981. I got up extra early and sat in front of the television – glued to every detail. I think we were all mesmerized. It was also when I learned about royal protocol – the heinous act of Diana appearing in black at a pre-wedding event, not to mention the sheer skirt that the sunlight penetrated which allowed undue access to her almost royal legs and undies. Yikes!

Her wedding dress still seems like a confection of marzipan fit for a fairy tale princess. And when I got married three years later, it was still on my mind, puffy sleeves and ruffled neckline, though mine was combined with Southern American tiers of lace. I had the gowns of my bridesmaids made from the pattern that was a copy of Diana’s. They carried candles behind hurricane globes with cascading flowers and vines from the front, at six o’clock sunset in my little church in early autumn. I still recall the glow of the setting sun through the stained glass windows. It wasn’t Westminster Abbey but it was perfect, a nice balance of elegance and what I perceived as style.

Yesterday, the first born of this couple and heir to the throne of England behind his father- Duke William of Cambridge as he is now known – married his Princess, Catherine Middleton who is now the Duchess of Cambridge. The wedding was perfect. When I saw her dress, it was as if Maria’s dress in ‘The Sound of Music’ made love to antique table linen made of chantilly lace. I immediately loved it, as did the rest of the world according to reports. Her style seems classic and timeless and I can imagine the replicas appearing on brides for years to come.

In today’s economy it must be delightful to have this boost to British designers, caterers, and photographers, as well as hotels, restaurants, and car rentals. It’s nice to have something cheerful to look forward to with this family. I recall all too well the Queen’s ‘annus horribilis’ speech about her worst year – divorce, fire, scandal, tell-all books.

I also recall a statuesque beauty who asked the press to leave her children alone. I loved her ever present mothering skills, her fights with the ‘firm’ – as the royal family is called- over their education and her role in their lives. I think she would have been extremely proud today.

Moments like yesterday are few in our world. Rare and beautiful and sentimental and a little awe inspiring. And with Catherine’s sense of understated style and the Duke’s sense of duty mixed with an earthiness that is also tinged with protectiveness, they will be influencing many aspects of our lives – which charities and causes will they champion, how many children will they have, who will design their clothes, what hairstyles will she wear, where will they vacation, hats or not! The list goes on and on as I think of all of the things that Diana influenced. She even changed the way the Royals see marriage and divorce. It is really due to her that William can marry someone he has lived with – no virginity test required!

We admire the children of Charles and Diana. They are handsome, well mannered – well at least William is – befriended by their peers, accepting of their responsibilities, studious, charitable, friendly.

Catherine has joined a very select few, a club of privileged and titled. I keep thinking of a favorite Bible verse; ‘To whom much is given, much is expected.’ We expect a lot from these young people and so far they haven’t disappointed. And I believe the Duchess will do for fashion what Oprah has done for books. I know I’ll be watching and hoping hats make a come back here. As long as I don’t have to wear a fascinator.

My 1984 wedding gown and tiniest bridesmaid/flower girl in the style of Diana's bridesmaids.

My 1984 wedding gown and tiniest bridesmaid/flower girl in the style of Diana’s bridesmaids.

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