International Papers

Take Her To Be Your Wife, Please!

Neither Rainier, nor snow, nor tabloid gate-crashers will halt the royal wedding.

Even the meteorologists seem to have it in for Charles and Camilla. The British papers—always fond of dumping on the royals—have had a field day with the torrent of bad news related to the royal nuptials, and the latest wave comes in the form of the weather report. The Daily Express slapped a banner across the top of its Thursday edition saying, “Charles and Camilla WILL have a white wedding after all … it’s going to snow.”

“Experts predict icy showers and biting winds for Saturday’s wedding,” the Daily Mirror reported. “The latest setback follows the cancellation from Friday so Charles can go to the Pope’s funeral, a change of venue from Windsor Castle, the Queen’s refusal to attend and, oh, the suggestion it’s all a bit illegal.”

Every tabloid writer’s a comedian. One Mirror columnist said the wedding is “as welcome to the nation as Asian flu” and added, “I’ve sent my heartfelt sympathies to Monaco’s Royals following the death of Prince Rainier. Begging them to hold his funeral on Saturday so Charles will have to postpone his nuptials again, making him drown in a tidal wave of self-pity.”

But Rainier’s funeral won’t take place on Saturday—royals never move that quickly. Instead, the papers report it’s been scheduled for next Friday, prompting the Sun to wonder if Charles and Camilla will have to ditch their honeymoon plans since Charles is the natural candidate to represent the British royals in Monaco.

The Daily Star ran what may be the cruelest headline of the year. Playing on Camilla’s love of horses and the conflict between the rescheduled wedding and the Grand National horse race, the paper led with, “Camilla’s out of the National—wedding switch forces Chas’ old nag to miss the big race.”

As if public opinion, the queen’s snub, the pope’s death, and the bad weather forecast weren’t putting enough strain on Charles and Camilla’s second-round search for marital bliss, the Sun unleashed a new tempest in a royal teapot when it proclaimed: “Gatecrasher at the castle.” The paper sent a reporter on an undercover mission: Driving a white truck, he ferried a fake bomb (actually, it was a box marked “BOMB”) onto the grounds of Windsor Castle, and nobody stopped him. In a story marked “World Exclusive,” the Sun reported that its writer and photographer drove near the room where the queen was resting and passed the chapel where Charles and Camilla are due to be blessed following their nuptials at the local town hall.

The Sun quoted Britain’s top cop saying, “It is a very unfortunate incident about which I am quite concerned” and reassuring the public that every precaution has been taken to ensure security at Saturday’s festivities. But the newspaper wasn’t convinced. In an editorial, the Sun declared that the security forces were caught asleep on the job, adding, “The truth is that it is harder to get into some nightclubs these days than it is to gatecrash certain Royal palaces.”

Creating news is a fine tradition of the British tabloids, but even the more staid broadsheets have been drawn into the downright undignified goings-on surrounding the upcoming wedding. The Times provided a tongue-in-cheek roundup of the myriad official and unofficial souvenirs on offer to fans of royal weddings—and noted that demand has spiked for tea towels and other items preprinted with the original wedding date—April 8—since the postponement was announced. The paper quoted a manufacturer of souvenir china who said the misdated mementos were in high demand: “It sounds completely potty but people obviously want something unique.”

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, the author of a biography of the princess-to-be noted that Camilla has always been more comfortable tending her horses than having her nails manicured, happier getting together with PLU (people like us) rather than being the focus of attention. But she’s also always loved the prince, and “she has always done the right thing by Prince Charles. And now she’s going to marry him. Is this her dream come true? I think she really does want to be his wife after all this time, but there must be days when she would rather be plain old Mrs. Windsor than duchess of anywhere.”

On Saturday many Britons will be trying not to pay attention to the royals. The Scotsman offered 20 ways to avoid the wedding hullabaloo. Among them: Watch the Grand National horse race (which has been delayed a few minutes so as not to conflict with the televising of the post-wedding blessing), attend a Glasgow show of “playful eroticism and performance art” called “The Other Royal Wedding,” or … go to the dentist.

The Brits certainly know how to rank their pleasures.