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Native Brits share thoughts on royal nuptials



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Lauren Smyth and Wendy Smyth in front of Stonehenge in England about two years ago. Photo provided. (click for larger version)
April 27, 2011 - Some local citizens who immigrated here from England reflected this week on the British royal family and the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

The media coverage and American interest in the wedding, planned for April 29, was surprising to Jonathan Smyth.

"America has British roots, but it's interesting how they have taken a liking to the royal family," he said. "I don't understand the obsession."

Smyth, 22, moved to the United States 10 years ago with his mother, Wendy. They reside in Groveland Township.

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"I think the royal wedding will be a much needed morale boost for the British citizens and people from around the world in these bad economic times," said Wendy, who planned to be awake at 4 a.m. Friday to watch the wedding. "It will bring the royal family back to the forefront of world interest. Since Princess Diana passed away, the royal family has been surrounded in controversy. Diana was the people's princess; I hope that William and Kate will be the prince and princess of the people as well. I hope their marriage will be a long and happy one for a change."

The 1981 wedding of Prince William's parents, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, also drew worldwide interest, but their marriage, which also produced William's younger brother, Prince Harry, ended in divorce in 1996. A little more than a year later, on Aug. 31, 1997, Princess Diana died at the age of 36 from injuries sustained in an automobile accident. In 2005, Prince Charles married Camilla Parker Bowles.

The wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton offers a new spark of interest, said Jonathan. He believes people are getting bored with William's grandmother and Charles' mother, Queen Elizabeth II, who has been on the throne for 59 years and who, in less than two weeks, will become the second-longest reigning monarch in British history.

"She's had a brilliant reign, but people are bored," Jonathan said. "This wedding gives a glimpse of the prospective youth of a future king and queen. Charles is next in line, but people want to skip over him... Especially with Diana, that was a hard blow to his popularity in England and once he remarried to Camilla— she is not a princess...This wedding is the most buzz in the last 20 years— a young couple happily in love, attractive, with the prospect of kids in the future."

Fiona Dibble is an Ortonville resident who moved to the U.S. six years ago. While she is not anti-royal, she doesn't follow the monarchy closely. However, she believed she would probably watch the wedding on Friday because "it's historically interesting."

"It's a moment in my country's history, and it would be a shame not to see a moment in history made," said Dibble, 46. "When I was a kid, I watched Charles and Diana get married on tv. It was a very positive mood in the country and it will be now. The economy is sluggish and there is high unemployment in England, but this gives a feel-good factor... It amuses me that so many people here are interested. You go to all this effort to not have a monarchy and then you are fascinated by the royal family."

Dibble said her family in England would watch the wedding.

"There will nothing else to watch," she laughed. "The whole nation is on holiday, except for doctors and nurses. Even if you're ambivalent or anti-royalty, curiousity gets the best of you."

Sarah Campbell, a friend of Dibble's, was visiting from England this week. Back home, she is tired of the media coverage, some of which she believes is unkind to Middleton's family.

"There are undercover photographers taking pictures and they're not being fair to her family," she said. "They don't need to be dragged into it. They're talking about her uncle having tattoos, none of her family is good enough, and second class to the royal family."

Campbell expected to fly back to England Friday, too late to see the wedding, but as a bride-to-be herself, was interested to see what Middleton's wedding gown looked like.

Dibble felt sympathy for Middleton and the scrutiny she will face.

"If the poor girl gains weight or does anything else, the media will be all over her, but I guess she knows that going in," she said. "She must love him, because I don't know why else you would put yourself in that position. They will be in every newspaper every day for now. It will calm down after they are married, until she is pregnant. I suspect it won't be long until they start the next generation. They seem like a nice young couple, I hope they will be happy together."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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