Camilla and what might have been


Originally published in WBUR’s Cognoscenti

It was a lovely wedding, wasn’t it? Perfect day, perfect dress, perfect crowd, perfect songs, all to underscore how much has changed: the traditions that were waived, and possibly scrapped, so these two people could get what they deserved. Meghan and Harry didn’t need to worry about lineage or parentage, divorce or religion or race, any of the outdated rules that used to dictate lives in the fishbowl of the Palace. All they had to think about was love.

So the preacher preached, and the TV commentators gushed: they’re in love, love is grand, love is the most important thing. Al Roker, standing alongside British street in a purple suit and hat, was so buoyant that it seemed like he might float into the sky.

I scanned St. George’s Chapel on the TV feed, and everyone seemed happy in there, too, with a few apparent exceptions. One was Victoria Beckham, but her customary wardrobe is stilettos and a scowl. Another was the former Camilla Parker-Bowles, Duchess of Cornwall, wife of Prince Charles. And for a moment there, I guessed what she might have been thinking: Under different circumstances, some four decades ago, she might have had a wedding like this, too.

Yes, I’m making a leap. It could be that Camilla was smiling when the cameras weren’t looking, or frowning because her colossal hat was making her scalp itch, or because she was having a little spat with Kate. But if you’ve gorged on TV dramas about the royal family, followed the comic and tragic turns of these strange and sheltered people, it’s easy to imagine the sting. What if all of those traditions hadn’t mattered years ago?

Read the rest here.

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