x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

A bulletproof vest and a Rolls: two sides of royal nuptials

We will all watch yet another fairytale wedding, and while I am not much for romantic stories, I have to admit, it is nice to watch a love story unfold instead of the usual more tragic news story.

A popular Arabic proverb tells us: "If someone was to say that there is a wedding ceremony in the clouds, then the women would soon arrive with their ladders."

It takes a real life royal wedding, exuberantly dubbed "the wedding of the century", to remind single girls of our own imagined royal wedding dreams and our very own princes.

This Friday, the whole world will tune in to watch Kate Middleton marry the second in line to the British throne, Prince William. Because they met at university and she isn't of royal stock, many young women, including a group of my friends, have complained how "any one of us" could be in her place.

A cynic by nature, I imagine it took a lot more than just being at the right place at the right time to catch the eye of one of the world's most eligible bachelors.

Besides, it is just human nature to envy, especially when a royal title is involved. Who doesn't want to live in a palace? I know I would - it may sound silly, but I can dream of transforming massive ornate gardens into a working animal sanctuary.

Actually, when I was in Iraq I met a journalist who did end up marrying a prince. Princess Rym Ali of Jordan, a former CNN reporter, ended up giving back to the world of journalism by setting up a media institute in her newly adopted home, as well as initiating many other projects. Her kindness predated her title though: she lent me her bulletproof vest when I was on assignment.

So fairy-tale weddings are possible for hardworking journalists, even if we often aren't wearing make-up. Another journalist friend was reminded of her dream wedding as she awaits the upcoming nuptials, which involves the groom showing up dressed as Zorro.

"If he could show up on a black horse and we ride off into the sunset, that would make it perfect," she said. Some sword fighting would also be welcome.

I wouldn't mind a heroic figure myself. And dreams do come true, according to several of my married friends. And Prince Harry is still single, after all.

While Arab weddings differ depending on the background of the families involved, they are all basically the same at heart. Even at segregated weddings, the groom usually comes to sit by the bride's side to be, for lack of a better word, shown off to her friends. That is when Zorro would truly make an impression.

Having attended weddings all over the world, of friends and friends of friends, one thing is sure: it is all about the wedding dress.

Some get famous designers, others find new names that are not so expensive, and some design their own dress. There are so many rituals passed down the generations on the best remedies to look fresh and thinner.

The media has been picking on Ms Middleton for losing so much weight. But wouldn't you be dieting if the whole world was scrutinising you? It must be so stressful. We all know how the media is relentless, particularly the paparazzi that are always following the royal families. I would not want to be under that lens.

I don't recall watching the late Princess Diana's wedding to Prince Charles in 1981, as I was too young to be interested at the time. I did watch it later in my life and appreciated it as my parents did when they watched it.

It was such a fairy-tale wedding, reflecting the same flights of fancy seen in cartoons like Disney's Cinderella. The horse-driven carriage has forever been imprinted in my mind as the perfect mode of transport into marriage. Ms Middleton, incidentally, is arriving at Westminster Abbey in a Rolls-Royce.

But, weather permitting, the couple will ride in an open-topped 1902 State Landau horse-drawn carriage for the procession back to Buckingham Palace.

While I am not much for romantic stories, I have to admit, it will be nice to switch on the TV and watch a love story unfold instead of the usual humdrum news.

 

rghazal@thenational.ae