August 16, 2018

{The New Royal Marriage}

My article, and book excerpt, "The New Royal Marriage," was recently published on Confluence Daily....and I'm sharing it below with some yummy images! Enjoy....


A few years after the grand and ritual-rich wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981—a time when the interplay of relationships, including the roles of men and women, were changing—spiritual teacher Gary Zukav released his groundbreaking book, The Seat of the Soul. He wrote about the end of the old marriage archetype (what he considered a “five-sensory” relationship focusing on the body and personality) and the emergence of “spiritual partnerships”—more consciously aware, “multisensory” ways of being in relationship.
Prince Charles was the last heir to the British throne to marry for dynastic duty first (and who was raised in that hands-off, secluded, in-training-for-the-crown severity); his sons were the first heirs to grow up with access to the openness of modern culture and with fewer restraints of the monarchy (thanks to insights of both parents.) This meant Prince William and Prince Harry could participate in a less-structured environment—but still be aware of their duty and place in the world—and be free to develop a loving, deep friendship with the woman they would marry.

Looking back, perhaps it was predestined for Charles and Diana’s spot-lit, world-stage relationship—fraught with jealousy, deception, and lack of mutual support—demonstrate an outdated model for marriage. Not finding the desired harmony in their own relationship, yet as destiny would have it, they produced two sons (one a would-be-king, one a prince of deep passion, both imbued with characteristics of each parent) who, as young men, apparently did.

We saw this deep connection during their weddings. I wrote the following about Prince William and Kate Middleton’s 2011 wedding in The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride, but it could also apply to the ceremony and lives of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle a few years later:
Like the best of weddings, William and Kate’s botanically inspired celebration had a sense of reconciliation and healing within relationships, families, communities, even religions. This is what I see their life mission will be about. And this nuptial day, therefore, was a blessing, a redemption for both Diana and Charles. “It was Diana who wired William with some innate radar to look for a soulmate who had a strong family bond,” wrote journalist and author Tina Brown. “She never had it with her own family, nor did Prince Charles,” but their first son has it and embraced it and included all of his families—Spencers, Windsors and Middletons—at the heart of his wedding day. And his Kate matched every royal moment with equal poise and tenderness, inspiring Brown to share about the bride’s choices: “Everything about her actions, to and for William, is about creating a feeling of safe continuity: You know me. I am here.”
Seven years later, as I watched Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s sun-lit springtime wedding, it seemed that we all were witnessing not just a break in tradition, but something so transformative it was as though being baptized in pure light and redemptive love—being initiated into the most sacred depths of oneness. “It felt like another level of everything,” Oprah Winfrey, who had an up-close seat at the wedding ceremony, shared. “It felt like more than a wedding. It felt like a shift in culture. I left more hopeful,” she concluded.

Are these two royal couples representatives of a “new marriage”—a “spiritual partnership,” as Zukav imagined? Or perhaps it’s simply a return to the original purpose of marriage where the cultivation of a deeply connected, equal partnership is a natural way of relating for couples. William and Kate nor Harry and Meghan asked for their marriage to be a template, however, royalty is one of our most reflective archetypes so it’s just in the stars for them to take on a world stage life. Not right or wrong or perfect; not forever or even “happily ever after,” and certainly not a “traditional” marriage. (Is there really any such thing?) 
Nonetheless, these two relationships act as a mirror, so we can see ourselves just a bit clearer in one of the most problematic areas of life for people. “It would be difficult to find a human relationship that embodies a greater complexity than marriage—with its blend of the civil, social, spiritual, and physical,” wrote cultural mythologist Jane L. Mickelson. Our culture is filled with the shadow side of marriage. “For every folk and fairy tale that concludes, ‘and they lived happily ever after,’” Mickelson continued, “there is another that speaks of the betrayal and bitterness, the hostility and disappointment of marriage.” William and Harry knew this all too painfully well because of their parents’ mismatched marriage as did their mother because of her parents’ damaged union. (I called these marriages representatives of the end of the illusion—“the end of the fairy-tale bride.”)

In the aftermath of Charles and Diana’s shattered marriage, a very public royal divorce, and—as though following some Jungian script—the death of the much-loved princess, Dr. Caroline Myss, mystic and best-selling author, considered the outdated “damsel and knight” fairy story could finally be laid to rest. Echoing Gary Zukav’s vision for marriage, Myss wrote that we now begin “to uncover a new archetype—one that reflects the emerging era of partnership.”

Was this to be a new mythology for marriage where couples serve the highest good for each other? “This is how spiritual partnerships work,” Zukav explained. “You begin to set aside the wants of your personality in order to accommodate the needs of your partner’s spiritual growth, and in doing that, you grow yourself.” In this relational reframing, women and men are not substituting romance for intimacy; not settling for the illusion of love instead of the real thing; not relying on the other for their own happiness and fulfillment; nor are they denying the best of themselves so they can have some false sense of security and comfort.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex may have royal titles, but it appears that their marriages—their love and relationships and deep commitment to their partners—are real and sincerely grounded, aligning with their modern, yet old soul sensibilities. Both Kate and Meghan have “brought a kind of grace under pressure to the royal family,” their husbands’ family, and I would suspect that sense of being comfortable-in-their-own-skin reinforces a closeness with their husbands.

It was Princess Diana’s tenacity and spirit that carved out a way for William to be king and have a marriage based on love and equality; and, in her demonstrative acts of unconditional love, gave Harry, younger at her death and maybe more vulnerable, the resilience to mend his broken heart and find a strong partner who matches his devotion and compassion. And Prince Charles played his part as he tenderly protected and guided his sons after Diana’s death; then, years later, boldly challenged the old monarchic code and, with William and Harry’s full-hearted support, married the woman he had long loved.

Perhaps we are drawn to these young Windsor couples because they remind us of the true nature of what “happily ever after” is to be—living a life you love, in service and in kindness to others. And perhaps our attraction to them is how their lives show us, in the words of beloved Sufi teacher Hazrat Inayat Khan, that, whether you are royal or just regular folk, “to discover the heart is the greatest initiation.” ~ 

[Excerpts from Cornelia’s The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride, available at Amazon, as well as excerpts from her book in progress, tentatively titled, A Memory of Beauty: The Spiritual Mission of a Princess.]

July 20, 2018

{Why Royal Weddings Matter} No. 11: The Honey Month

Enjoy the last of the 11-part series of WHY ROYAL WEDDINGS MATTER celebrating the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. "The Honey Month"....posted on Confluence Daily and reprinted below! (Most articles in the series are excerpts from my book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride.)

The Honey Month

In our world of extreme media scrutiny, I love that the most famous newlywed couple on the planet took what appears to be a private honeymoon! “With the world watching,” wrote Elise Taylor of Vogue, “Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, seemingly did the impossible: They snuck away on a two-week honeymoon.” (And, as of this writing, the media can only speculate on the location!)

The word “honeymoon,” in use since the sixteenth century as British historian Ann Monsarrat explains, is a derivation of a much older term, “honey-month,” describing the first weeks of the newlyweds’ life together at home, or at the home of friends or family, with the not so subtle intent of ensuring offspring. But these were considered rather “low-class words.” So, beginning in the eighteenth century, when it became fashionable for well-to-do couples to take some sort of trip following their wedding festivities, the occasion was called “going away,” thought a more genteel expression.

“Going away” became “the bridal tour” for the wealthy in the nineteenth century. For the British upper-crust, the fashionable thing was to do a tour of the Continent; for affluent Americans of the gilded age, it was to go abroad on a luxury ocean liner then visit the most exotic sites of the day recommended by Baedeker.

There’s a bit of intrigue associating the honey in “honeymoon” and the ancient legend of the honeybee’s luscious nectar with love and sex. In her book, The Hive: The Story of the Honeybee and Us, Bee Wilson muses how human civilization would have barely survived without the honeybee: its wax was used to create light in a dark world and its honey gave nourishment and medicine. But the honeybee also provided poetic mystery and “food for love”—from the devilish to the divine:

It is “sweet, like true love, and delicious, like carnal love, honey can be treacherous and sticky, like false love,” the author asserts. And there’s more. Its thick, syrupy-ness brings up a “dark side of human desire”—like this from Proverbs in the Bible: ‘the lips of an adulteress drip honey and her tongue is smoother than oil’. Yet “pure honey is precious and good, like married love”—as this line from the Highlander poem, Rob Roy, by Andrew Lang suggests: ‘Or will ye be my honey? / Or will ye be my wedded wife?’

Some believe the term “honeymoon” relates to the ancient Viking ritual when, for their aphrodisiac effects, “the bride and groom would eat honeyed cakes and drink mead for the first month of their betrothal”—quite the honey-month! However, the connection to honey and the name honeymoon or its true meaning “cannot be agreed upon,” Wilson continued. Like most early wedding rituals there are hazy origin myths, but what we know for sure is that “the use of honey in marriage rites has been a constant throughout the Indo-European world, and beyond.” For instance, in an age-old Egyptian marriage contract, the husband promised his wife a yearly gift of twelve jars of honey; in archaic Hindu wedding ceremonies, the author added, “the bride’s forehead, mouth, eyelids, ears and genitals were anointed with honey.”

Do we really ‘fall in love’ or do we just ‘fall into a honeypot’? Do we meet our beloved by chance or are we stung by Cupid’s honey-soaked arrow? In stories of mythology, honey plays its delicious part in romance. Becoming known as the young god of love, Cupid—the son of Venus, the Roman goddess of love, and Mars, the god of war—is not only famous for stealing honeycombs, but he also “fires arrows at his victims, sometimes dipped in honey” and they instantly fall in love with the next person they meet. Honeypot, indeed!

Here’s wishing Harry and Meghan many “honeyed” years of marriage! ~

[Excerpts from The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding. Available on Amazon.]

July 2, 2018

{Why Royal Weddings Matter} No. 10: Tokens of Abundance & Love

Here's the latest installment of my "Why Royal Weddings Matter" series for Confluence Daily...excerpts from The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride with updates from the recent wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. Enjoy!

Tokens of Abundance & Love

Most wedding rituals today are “rooted in the potent mix of tradition and superstition,” wrote Barbara Tober, former editor-in-chief of Bride’s magazine.  

Take the rhyme, something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a sixpence for your shoe—the familiar little verse that became a beloved personal ritual for generations of brides. The rhyme itself may not be that old (first appearing in print in the nineteenth century according to my research), but the customs it describes have been around for centuries. In cultures worldwide and for as long as we know, there was some sort of ritual conjured up out of superstitious notions encouraging brides to tuck “tokens of abundance” (pieces of bread, a lump of sugar, bits of ribbon, a silver charm or coin) into their purse, glove, or shoe; or sew the item into their bodice or dress hem. This was all done in the desire to call forth good luck, great fortune—including the birth of a male heir—or some magical promise of love forever!

Shoe historian Cameron Kippen declares that throughout ancient times “it was widely accounted wearing something borrowed was lucky. The something borrowed varied to something golden or something stolen. A common belief was the bride would enjoy the same luck as the previous owner if the shoes of another happy bride were worn.” (And the good-luck superstitions extended to the groom by wearing old boots loaned to him for his wedding.)

The historian also reminds us that “a long standing bridal superstition stated no harm could befall a bride wearing blue.” Through the ages, wide-ranging references to the color blue surround it with compelling, even divine properties. The color is often associated with Mary, mother of Jesus, and Brigit, the Celtic goddess of healing and the arts; and in Ayurvedic wisdom, the color blue is linked with the throat chakra, or energy center, and inspires balance in our true self-expression. It is cited in Geoffrey Chaucer’s fourteenth-century The Canterbury Tales as a symbol of truth and faithfulness and Shakespeare fondly considered the “blue of heaven’s own tinct....”

With such rich folkloric history, it stands to reason that somewhere along the way a sentimental poet neatly put it all together in a romantic rhyme—some think derived from an old Italian saying, others believe it’s British in origin. Proving, once again, that wedding traditions have “complicated roots”—to borrow a phrase from Carol McD. Wallace’s book, All Dressed in White. Whatever the origin of the rhyming verse, nineteenth-century Victorians popularized it and even royal brides followed its feminine directives for their wedding day.

Princess Diana’s wedding gown designers, Elizabeth and David Emanuel, shared how they custom-fit the rhyme’s legacy for their royal bride:

The old was represented by the piece of Queen Mary lace that we used on the bodice and flounces while the new was obviously the silk dress itself. The tiara that Diana wore was a Spencer family heirloom—so something borrowed—and to complete the tradition, we hand-sewed a little blue bow into the back of the dress.

Following the rhyme continues to be a treasured ritual for many modern brides; not because of any “superstition,” but because it has a way of bringing together generations of women in conversations and remembrances over things we hold dear. A grandmother unpacks a precious family heirloom; a great-aunt shares something from her own trousseau and recalls stories from her mother’s wedding; a sisterly friend offers love, support and deep listening.

Meghan Markle, bride of Prince Harry, extended the rhyme’s sentiment to their post-wedding-ceremony evening party. After changing into a sleek and sexy white halter-neck dress, Meghan wore designer high heels with soles painted pale blue and a fabulous ring with a large aquamarine stone once belonging to her late mother-in-law. (Was the ring a surprise from Prince Harry? Was he in on the “something blue” conversation? Or do you think he simply opened his mother’s jewelry box one day for his beloved to select something of her fancy?)

The “something old, something new” rhyme seems to be infused with a kind of fairy-tale quality and delights of feminine mystique—is the mystery part of its appeal? I call the old-fashioned rhyme the most feminine of all wedding rituals. Whether a bride borrows her grandmother’s handkerchief; wears a gift of birthstone earrings or an antique lace veil; pins a blue silk ribbon to her corset or slips a sixpence coin into her shoe or his pocket, they have put something magically mysterious into motion. And what woman doesn’t become more attractive wearing a bit of mystery? ~

[Excerpts from The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding, available on Amazon, with updates from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s recent “something wonderful” wedding celebration!]

June 13, 2018

{Why Royal Weddings Matter} No. 9: What The Veil Reveals

Hope you've been enjoying my "Why Royal Weddings Matter" series on Confluence Daily! Latest installment reprinted below with yummy images!

What the Veil Reveals

Bridal veils made a comeback with Princess Diana in the summer of 1981 like they did in the nineteenth century with Prince Charles’ great-great-great grandmother. Although Queen Victoria’s short lace veil—a lyrical masterpiece of handmade Honiton lace—was “decorative only,” pinned to her chignon and falling softly over her shoulders, Diana’s was long, lush and sparkly and, breaking with royal tradition, covered her face for a much fussed-over “virginal” arrival into St. Paul’s cathedral on her father’s arm. Many feminists called it a “shroud.” And for some modern young women just beginning to revel in their independence and sexual freedom during this time, wearing a bridal veil did, indeed, seem a bit out-of-date, if not out-of-touch.

Not insensitive to world politics in the 1980s and ‘90s—the years I had my bridal art-to-wear shop in Atlanta—my focus, however, was helping a bride feel just as beautiful inside as she looked outside. I loved the look of the sheer illusion veil like Diana wore, it seemed to connect a woman with something deeply feminine and quietly mysterious. Worn over the face, enveloping the bride in a quiet reverie, the veil helped block out a busy, distracting world, moving her attention inward. Fashion designer Vera Wang considers “nothing quite as transformational as a bridal veil. The blend of sensuality and ritual is positively seductive.”

The bridal veil in the European-American tradition went in and out of fashion during the last two-hundred years or so. But Queen Victoria followed “royal rules” more than fashion for her wedding in 1840. “Since the earliest centuries,” explained author Maria McBride-Mellinger, “royal brides, who very often had never met their affianced, could not conceal their faces, preventing a last-minute substitution.” (And this practice for Windsor brides continued until Diana.) British historian Ann Monsarrat described the trend for the rest of us: “Wearing a veil over the face did not evolve until the 1860s and ‘70s; and the custom of arriving at the church, veil demurely down, and leaving triumphantly bare-faced, was an even later refinement.”

Most ancient civilizations have something in their heritage around maidens and bridal veils. “The most important element of a Roman bride’s dress was her veil,” reported McBride-Mellinger. “In fact, nubere, the term for veiling, was synonymous with marriage, and the day after consummation was known as the unveiling.” Modern brides, nevertheless, may choose to wear a bridal veil simply because it’s fetching and pretty, whether a “maiden” or not!

Of course, the new millennium brought the first of modern royal brides in 2011 when the lovely Kate Middleton wed Prince William. “When she came in with that veil over her face, it was almost ethereal, like she was coming through a cloud—an angel coming into the Abbey,” said one dazzled wedding guest. The sheer layer of ivory silk tulle, finger-tip length and edged with hand-embroidered flowers created by the Royal School of Needlework, was rather magical as it caught the wind and became the perfect accessory to complete Kate’s exquisitely crafted silk and lace gown.

Like Kate, Meghan Markle, the bride of Prince Harry, chose the romantic style of entering the wedding chapel wearing a sheer veil over her face, attached to a royal diamond tiara. Yet, as Kate’s father had done for her, it was Meghan’s groom who performed the intimate “unveiling” at the altar: lifting the veil covering her face, meeting his beloved’s steady gaze, and melting our hearts at the same time.

However, Meghan’s approach to her veil was unique. “The veil was a big part of the story for me,” couture designer Clare Waight Keller explained about Meghan’s bridal ensemble. She had created an unadorned, pure-white architectural prism-of-a-gown with a sweeping train for the bride, so the veil became the captivating showpiece, embracing royal connections:

Expertly stitched by artisans working hundreds of hours, there was over 16 feet of gleaming white silk tulle with distinctive botanical motifs hand-embroidered in silk and organza fluttering in three-dimensional delight along the veil’s edge. (Flora representing each of the 53 countries of the Commonwealth—orchids, water lilies and pansies; a daffodil from Wales, bunchberry from Canada, and Scottish thistle—as well as California poppies and wintersweet to honor Meghan’s old and new homes; forget-me-nots to honor the groom’s late mother; and the mythological crops of wheat symbolizing love and charity.) The countries, memories and sentiments represented in this trailing “wild garden” enchantment—carried by gleeful twin pageboys as though they were displaying the most precious and charmed work-of-art—all went on the journey up and back down the aisle with Meghan, just as the designer had envisioned.

Both Kate and Meghan followed Diana’s lead with their veils, bringing this spirit of beauty—femininity and stillness, sacred yet seductive—into the hearts of modern brides worldwide. And, in turn, Meghan brought a fresh modernity to the bridal veil beyond any “fairy princess myth” into something so irresistibly feminine and confident about feeling beautiful and mysterious: Cocooned in sheer silk tulle with her veil floating behind—leaving “princess blessings” in her wake—and being revealed into the eyes of her beloved. ~ 

[Parts of this article are excerpts from The End of theFairy-Tale Bride: For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the GreatWhite Wedding, other parts are, of course, inspired by the recent royal wedding.]

June 1, 2018

{Why Royal Weddings Matter} No. 8: The Language of Flowers

The Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle has come and gone...yet its ripples of beauty and diversity, gentleness and humanity are still with us! And my series "Why Royal Weddings Matter" on Confluence Daily, online magazine especially for women, continues as well. The next installment, No. 8: "The Language of Flowers," is reprinted below with some lovely flower images....

The Language of Flowers

Bridal folklore throughout history, inspired by ancient mythology, tells of maidens entwining creamy white, aromatic orange blossoms into a bridal wreath for their hair, to ensure fertility; or carrying a bunch of sweet-smelling white lilacs, representing innocence; or tucking fragrant herbs into their bouquets, rosemary for remembrance and dill, believed to provoke lust. (Both herbs were also eaten for their supposed powers!)

Along came the French, picking up where the ancient Persians left off by assigning meanings to flowers and herbs, and in 1819 published Le Langage des Fleurs. The etiquette-driven, ritual-loving Victorians, as passionate as they were sentimental about flowers, followed suit. With so many rules and restrictions about what was proper to say to whom (and outright flirtations certainly prohibited), they adopted the romance-filled language of flowers and, to help sort it all out, created their own dictionary-like books, lyrically illustrated.

This romantic language was perfect for weddings since many brides, including royal ones, lead with the heart when it comes to their wedding bouquet. Queen Victoria carried a nosegay of snowdrops, noting friendship (they were her beloved Albert’s favorite flower); and Grace Kelly, after much thought, selected lilies of the valley as her simple wedding bouquet, meaning return of happiness. And along with the other all-shades-of-white flowers, Kate Middleton, of course, had blooms of Sweet William, signifying gallantry.

Princess Diana’s massive bouquet—to match the scale of her bouffant gown—was filled with fragrant cream and yellow flowers and greenery from gardens all over England and included (by special request from the palace) “Mountbatten” roses, a glorious shade of yellow mimosa rose named for Prince Charles’ adored late uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten. However, according to the Kate Greenaway version of Language of Flowers, yellow roses have the unfortunate, but in this case prophetic, meaning of decrease of love and jealously. (Ouch!)

Yet nothing could be as sincere and sentimentally dear as Meghan Markle’s small, almost childlike arrangement bound in a raw silk ribbon. The morning before their wedding, Prince Harry picked a handful of white flowers from the couple’s private garden at Kensington Palace for the florist to use in his bride’s bouquet—including scented sweet peas, jasmine and forget-me-nots; other petite blossoms were astilbe, lily of the valley and astrantia. Sweet peas represent delicate pleasures; jasmine, sensuality and grace; and the fabled forget-me-nots (a favorite of Harry’s mother) speak for themselves—yet for an added heart-tug, they also indicate true love.

The bridal bouquets of Diana and both her daughters-in-law had green sprigs of myrtle, Victorian-era symbols for fidelity. Like the last several generations of royal brides, the myrtle came from shrubs at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, planted by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The legendary connection continued when stems from the 1947 bridal bouquet of then Princess Elizabeth, Harry’s grandmother, were also planted amid the mythical landscape. So through the language of flowers, the hope of fidelity—and love forever—continues. ~

[Bits excerpted from The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding—and other bits added after the flower-feast and love-fest wedding of Harry and Meghan!]

May 23, 2018

{A Day of Gracious Gestures and Love Power}

The wedding celebration of Prince Henry of Wales and “princess-to-the-whole-world” Ms. Meghan Markle was truly a “Windsor knot” of love and diversity, beauty and harmony, inclusion and passion, acted out on a world stage in perfect archetypal timing as only old souls on a spiritual mission can do. Lighting up the world for the rest of us!

I was touched by the news a few days before the wedding about the gracious gesture by the Prince of Wales (Harry’s beloved father and future king) accepting Meghan’s invitation, in the absence of her own father, to be her bridal escort. And it played out even more beautifully and mythically than could be imagined.

Meghan, confidently and joyfully on her own, entered St. George’s Chapel to the sound of trumpets on a sunlit noontime, carrying a small, sentimental bouquet of forget-me-nots and other delicate flowers picked by her groom the morning before in the gardens of Kensington Palace (where his late mother had lived and he now made a home with Meghan.) The radiant bride, in designer-sculpted shimmering white silk and the most feminine filigree diamond tiara—“something old and something borrowed” from the Queen—began her walk down the aisle as the voice of a lyrical soprano lifts in “light divine and glory” with two delighted pageboys holding up her floral-embroidered, nod-to-the-monarchy, long silk veil. 

As Prince Charles met her under the archway marking the end of the nave—lush with locally-gathered greenery and white flowers—offering his arm to escort Meghan through the Quire and the rest of the journey to the altar to stand beside his youngest son (“Thank you, Pa,” Harry acknowledges with a smile), it was as though the grand old patriarchy was bowing to the young goddess, honoring her lineage, and delivering her safely and gallantly to the far shore, where she would then help ignite a new world that genuinely knows of love.

Of course, the imagery of Meghan, a successful woman of experience and substance, self-assuredly walking down the aisle alone on her wedding day could be taken as a bold feminist statement, especially for a royal wedding—needing no one to hold her up, give her away, or speak for her—so any action otherwise would simply have been an outdated tradition. (Although an escort, how I consider it, could be appropriately offered, just as it was, as an act of courtesy and respect.) Nonetheless, what truly struck me as the defining moments of the day were these archetypal gestures by kindly menfolk: offering their attendant arm, handpicked flowers, and pure exuberance. The father, the groom, the boys; the past, the present, the future—giving of themselves in the most respectful, tender, even reverent way. After all, on some level I would wager, they knew this fresh wave of feminine consciousness now sweeping the world is the future we all long for...and this day represented its promise in every expression. There was something much deeper brewing here.

And the preacher-man got there—right down into the heart of the matter: the redeeming power of love! Quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Most Reverend Michael Bruce Curry, who traveled to Windsor from Chicago, declared that “love is the only way.” With soulful hand-gesturing passion, he reminded the audience (even the upper-crust British members, perhaps accustomed to their less emotional, don’t-knock-tradition way of doing things): “We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world. Love is the only way.” Going off-script, he mentioned some of the most horrific practices of the old patriarchy that denied love in the world—and had us squirming in our seats! But how else do you stir up the resistance, re-ignite the revolution, awake the ‘unwoke’ to the power of love?

Harry and Meghan are on a mission, accepting each other’s wedding request to “stand by me” as they lead their power-of-love revolution, taking on nothing less than changing the world. Their wedding-day ceremony, a reflection of their own mixed histories, included archbishops and reverends from various religions; guests from all backgrounds and locations; music from classical British composers, an American bluesman and a Welsh deacon—there were hymns, an orchestra and a gospel choir; readings from the Song of Solomon—the most sensuous of biblical references; a teenage cellist from Nottingham playing like an old master in the midst of royal Medieval heritage; there were the ancient and the possible. This gleaming day also included lots of handholding, “a room full of happiness,” and fiery love prophets; a proud and teary, independent, free-spirited mother-of-the bride as well as the fragrance of white garden roses arranged in memory of the groom’s own unforgettable mother. Then there were those gentlemanly gestures in honor of the emerging modern woman and the legacy she represents. There is indeed something deeper brewing here and we are all invited to the love revolution! ~

May 19, 2018

{Why Royal Weddings Matter} No. 7: Royal Wedding Redux

Continuing the series for Confluence Daily, “Why Royal Weddings Matter,” we celebrate Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding with a look at a past bridal remembrance, reprinted here:

Royal Wedding Redux

in British tradition, wedding vows are a morning affair, and if we were to catch the first glimpse of the beautiful bride, we needed to be “front and center” very early. My friends and I were a little old for a slumber party, but as we gathered in our pajamas at 4 a.m. in front of my clunky television in Atlanta, Georgia, the anticipation and giddiness was “ageless.”  It was July 29, 1981, and like millions of people around the world, we prepared to watch the royal wedding of Lady Diana Spencer and Charles, Prince of Wales. (We even had snacks to match the occasion: scones with homemade fig jam and Earl Grey tea with lemon—perhaps to not only feed our early morning hunger, but also some inherent dreams of being a princess.)

As the world welcomes a new “princess” today, we are reminded of another celebrated royal wedding almost four decades ago. It was a landmark event broadcast in 74 countries and watched around the world by over 750 million people—including me and my pajama-party friends!

The moment Diana stepped out of that fairy-tale-inspired glass coach on her wedding morning with endless yards of silk train magically materializing with her—"like seeing a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis,” her gown designers wrote later—she had us hook, line and sinker. Princess Diana did not invent our fascination with royalty, nevertheless, her wedding ushered in a whole new ballgame—and the world was never quite the same.

As the first worldwide media spectacular, and probably the defining event of the eighties—a decade in which style so often trumped substance—the glittering happening brought ceremonial weddings back in style almost overnight. It resurrected the bridal industry from the social upheavals of the previous two decades and set the pace for a new era of fancy wedding hoopla: elaborate designer gowns; staged over-the-top productions; refined Martha Stewart details; and the wedding as a “consumer rite.” (Sound familiar?)

Since the same media blitz followed Diana and Charles’ soap-opera marriage and thorny divorce, many people became wary of fairy tales and princesses. However, the endearing William and Kate, with their dignity and realness, made us fall in love all over again! And, of course, the royal buzz was on once more last fall when charming Prince Harry and lovely Meghan Markle announced their engagement. But there were and are differences.

Like her now sister-in-law Kate Middleton, Meghan is not “blue-blooded” (not even British, yet that will change after she marries the prince), but like what attracted William to Kate, Meghan has other qualities that were more important to Harry. Thanks in part to the princes’ mother cracking open the staid and out-of-touch British monarchy, revealing how “dynastic duty” has little to do with love and happiness, and, to insure they didn’t get boxed-in by the past, insisting her sons have the grounding of real-world experience. All of which helped to free William and Harry to choose to marry from their true heart’s desire. (Tweaking a quote from journalist extraordinaire Tina Brown, who has covered the weddings of Charles and Diana, William and Kate, and now Harry and Meghan: “Everything Diana had wished for her sons has come to pass. They each found the woman who would bring them the personal contentment she lacked.”)

So not only is the return to elegant wedding pageantry part of Diana’s legacy, but her most lasting legacy just may be Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle—and the more egalitarian world available to them as the two young women bring their confident, modern, compassionate and open-minded “princessdom” to a world ready for some genuine graciousness. Thank heavens for royal weddings! Tea, anyone? ~ 

[Excerpts from The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding … a book for anyone who likes their wedding pageantry tossed with a little fashion history and princess brides! Available on Amazon.]