In retrospect: the Royal wedding as photographed by Leah McQueen
Some months ago, a French magazine commissioned me to write an article on the Royal wedding to accompany Adelaide-raised, London-based fashion photographer Leah McQueen's beautiful images. They never ended up being published and I finally have permission to share it with you all.
‘For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer,’ takes on a whole new meaning when you’re marrying into the British monarchy. The world has been swept away by the Cinderella story of the Prince and his bride – so much so that electricity consumption in Canada and the UK saw a plunge during key moments in the live broadcast.
Compared with the lavish galas of centuries past, Prince William and Catherine’s wedding was a miserly affair. The pair’s two wedding cakes might seem Lucullian to some, but William’s parents, Charles and Diana, had 27 at their wedding – with backup cakes made in case anything went wrong. Even in the post-war frugality of 1947, the wedding of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip had 12 cakes, with the official one standing 2.5 metres high.
It all seems a little out of place in a post-modern world. You get the feeling the royal family doesn’t quite know where they stand anymore. Pomp and circumstance are no longer welcome, regality a quaint sideshow in an unsettled world on the edge of war. The Middle East is one enormous killing field; Africa is starving; America is enslaved in greed.
But perhaps that’s why so many of us are so quick to embrace this romantic remnant of days past. Love in its unadulterated form is so rare that when it does appear, the world is captivated like a little girl with a butterfly. Estimates of global viewers of the live broadcast on April 29 are as high as two billion people, despite the obstinately anti-monarchist sector of society that avoided all talk of such cavalier frivolity.
And avoiding it would have been far from easy: everything from Princess Beatrice’s hat to Pippa Middleton’s rear end dominated global conversation.
Indeed, even for those steeped in cynicism, it would have been difficult not to gasp at Catherine’s beauty in her Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen gown, with its intricate lacework and 2.7 metre train. Her sister and maid of honour, Pippa, wore a slim-fitting column gown by the same designer, which flattered her curves so well that she was swiftly dubbed ‘Her Royal Hotness’ by many.
The Queen’s granddaughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, nearly stole the spotlight with their whimsical Phillip Treacy millinery, which caused a stir among the self-appointed ‘fashion police’ of the tabloids. Beatrice’s taupe bow-shaped hat even gathered comparisons to a pair of ovaries, comparisons which she shrugged off with grace.
Unlike his cousins’ idiosyncratic style, William’s wedding remained strictly within the realms of tradition. And even with a million well-wishers gathered on the streets of London, 5,000 police, and 1,900 invited guests, the wedding could not have run more smoothly.
A few days later, the world woke up to news of Osama bin Laden’s death. The girl married her prince and the bad guy was killed. Perhaps, suggested a friend, the week had been sponsored by Disney.