The Other Royal Wedding

I was 10. I was very excited. I thought Lady Di was wonderful and Prince Charles was sophisticated and gallant.

The day before the wedding was hot and windy. I was standing in the doorway of our lounge and the patio doors were open. A gust of wind blew the door shut with my hand still on the jamb. I distinctly remember the pain and flicking my hand out, you know, the way you do when you’ve hurt your finger. But when I flicked, blood sprayed…

The next thing I remember is my dad holding the wound – thankfully only one finger had been squished – directly under a cold running tap. And then we went to hospital. My fingernail was gone – not broken off, gone. My mum – who’d been out when the accident happened – found it on the floor. I remember seeing it, but I don’t know why she saved it. Anyway, it was the first time I realised that there was more nail than you could actually see. In fact, it went down as far as the first knuckle (if that first bit is a knuckle… the first bend anyway).

Can we just take a moment to think about my mum? This was 1981 – no mobile phones. Mum was out and came home to find an empty house, blood sprayed up the living room wall and door, a note saying ‘Gone to hospital’ and a fingernail on the carpet.

I had six stitches right across my finger, about half a centimetre down. That night, I watched the fireworks, my bandaged finger resting on a cushion and throbbing.

The next day I watched the wedding and wished I was there, tragic finger and all, on The Mall watching the royals go past with a souvenir periscope. But it wasn’t to be.

It all makes me sad to think about now. Just that photo of Charles and Diana above makes me ache with nostalgia. For 10-year-old me with my scabby finger and my scrapbooks. For my mum and dad who, then, were not much older than I am now. For poor Diana and William and Harry. Not so much for Charles. He lost me when he asked his mother for permission to kiss his own bloody wife and things just went downhill from there.

I didn’t actually intend to write about this – I was just going to tell you that author Lucy Coats… actually, no. Just go and read her posts – Part 1 Part 2 and Part 3. Even now, knowing how it all turned out and not being a royalist at all, I’m still incredibly envious.

This was my favourite picture when I was 10. I was so jealous of those bridesmaids. Love the little duck face on the first girl on the left. (Is it India Hicks? How sad will it be if it turns out I’ve remembered that for 30 years?)

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12 thoughts on “The Other Royal Wedding

  1. I think India Hicks is the one in the middle. Little cute duck face is Clementine Hambro who I think used to go to the kindergarten where Diana worked.

    That’s sad for you.

    There was a time when if you showed me a picture of Diana I’d be able to identify exactly when it was taken by what she was wearing. Really.

  2. Reading your post made me smile and brought back some of my own memories… I think the royal Wedding on Friday has made us all a litlle nostalgic. I was a year younger than Diana so despite my punkish leanings at the time I wanted all the clothes and the money and the princess life – I really envied her ….be careful what you wish for…
    (mmmm I feel a blog post coming on!!!)

    1. Thanks, Sue. Be careful what you wish for is SO TRUE. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve envied someone and wished I had their life and then found they were suffering horribly or something tragic happened to them. It’s a fool’s game, that’s for sure.

  3. Clemmie Hambro, who now writes a gardening column for The Lady. We are SO OLD. Did your fingernail grow back, by the way? Poor you. I shall now watch Catherine (as I am now loyally calling her, having consigned Kate to pre-April 2011 history, despite my engagement mug – I have one – that anachronistically says K&W) walk up the aisle and wince as I think of that door slamming. Ow.

    1. Ha! I thought the name was familiar, but didn’t put two and two together. The Lady. Of course. (It’s my guilty pleasure – especially the ads for domestics.)

      It grew back, yes, but it never grows past my fingertip. 😦

  4. I did feel sorry for your mum, right up until the “and a fingernail on the carpet”, when I have to confess I giggled. Sorry.

    I feel I remember watching their wedding. I don’t. I was only 2 and a half at the time, and while I have other memories from that summer (we moved back to England either just before or just after it says my unremembering mother – who does remember that we got a tv delivered just in time to watch the Ashes) I don’t think my wedding ones can be right. I think it all got replayed so much that I’m mixing it in with my memories of watching Fergie & Andrew (when we were in a completely different house at the other end of the country).

    1. Ha! You’re mean. I’m surprised she didn’t faint.

      I have no recollection of Fergie and Andrew’s wedding at all. Just looking it up – it was 1986, so I was 15. Probably in my room, reading and thinking about George Michael… #rubbishteenager

  5. My Mum and I camped outside the cathedral for several nights before the wedding. It was incredible. We were right on the corner outside St Paul’s so the carriages had to slow down to make the turn. We got awesome pictures and wonderful views! It was such a fantastic atmosphere too. I’ll never, ever forget it. ( I was 8) !

  6. I’m feeling old now..I was 10 years old, scrapbooking and obsessing about Princess Anne’s wedding in 1973! She’s still my idea of a Real Princess.

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