Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Three Close Encounters with the British Royal Family

Yes it is true, I've had three close encounters with the British royal family - well maybe the close part is a bit of a stretch, but three encounters nevertheless.  Well maybe encounters is not quite the right word - how about stories.  Yes, three stories about the royal family.  

Story #1
The year was 1977.
The Queen was celebrating her Silver Jubilee.
I was an exchange student in the Netherlands and in June visited England and was able to enjoy the Silver Jubilee festivities.  I saw the Queen on a barge on the Thames.  She was the small turquoise dot - that waved at me!

My Silver Jubilee souvenir teaspoon

Story #2
The year was 1981.
Hubby and I got married in February and ten days later the announcement was made that Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer were to be married.  I watched with interest as she planned her wedding as I had just gone through the same thing.  

Hubby and I had summer jobs that year in Northern Ontario:  he was working on the pipeline and I was collecting tree samples for a professor.  We lived in small tourist cabins when the weather was cold and camped when the weather was warmer.  By the time July 29th rolled around and it was time for the royal wedding, we had been living in the bush for almost three months, five weeks of which had been spent tent camping.   We decided that we would  treat ourselves to a nice hotel room so we could watch the wedding on TV.  The nearest town was Dryden and we opted for one of the best places in town, the Riverview Lodge.  It had a picturesque dining room that was in an old log building.  I loved the contrast between the rustic wood walls and ceiling and stone fireplace and the patterned carpets and fine china.  I looked online for a photo of it so you could see what I mean and these were the best I could find.

Riverview Lodge

After we had enjoyed a lovely dinner complete with a glass of wine, we went to our room for the night.  We were surprised and dismayed that the room was not only small and very basic, but had NO TV (I hasten to add that it was thirty years ago and the place has since been remodeled).   We went to the front desk to see what they could do and they very kindly brought a TV from the owner's home for us to use.  Thus we did get to join the 750 million other viewers and watch the wedding.  I will always remember feeling that Diana and I couldn't be any further apart, with Diana living in such refined elegance and me in my grubby unsophisticated bubble of tents and trees and bugs. Fortunately our lives were different in other ways as well, as my prince turned out to be the real prince charming.

Story #3
The year was 1983.
In June the Prince and Princess of Wales came to Canada for their first official visit.
Hubby, my two sisters, and I went to Ottawa to brave the crowds and see them.  

Diana, Princess of Wales with Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the Prime Minister at the time (on the right) in Ottawa, June 1983 (photo taken by me)

Prince Charles (and the edge of Diana's hat to his left) (photo taken by me)

Prince Charles inspecting the guards (photo taken by me)

And so you can see what Diana really looked like that day, here is a photo from the newspaper.  Didn't she look lovely!

Toronto Star
I think it is worth mentioning that 1981 was the year the Prince and I got married, and thirty years later, 2011 is the year my son and Prince William will get married.  Hmm, not sure that came out the way I intended.

I just read that William and Kate will be visiting Canada in June.  Unfortunately I will be out of the country at that time so they won't get to visit me.  I'm sure they will still have a nice visit though!

Linked to Royal Wedding Party Ideas at Decor to Adore


  1. Sigh. Lucky duck. I truly miss Diana. I loved her hats. So fun.

  2. Great memories Grace!
    I remember watching the Royal wedding while I was babysitting at 14yrs of age! Seems like yesterday!

  3. Really great memories! Your pictures of Charles and Diana are just awesome.

  4. I loved reading this post Grace, and that is so funny that the room didn't even have a TV! You got great photos of Princess Diana, that is a claim to fame for sure! Can't wait to see the wedding!!! Thanks for sharing,

  5. I graduated high school in 1981. I remember being at a friend's house (a guy who had no interest in the royal wedding) and watching the royal wedding with his mother who was British. It was really interesting watching it with her because she could provide commentary that the US anchors could not. It's amazing how much Prince William looks like his mother. Those are priceless pictures you took of her.

  6. I'd call that encounter with Charles and Diana "close." I was 10 when they were married, and my family was on vacation in California. I remember we got up very early in the morning to watch the festivities.

  7. Oh I loved this post! How cool that you two and your son and his new wife will have a royal connection of sorts! And if you were close enough to take their photos, I say that's akin to meeting them! ;-)

    Kat :)

  8. i hope your son and the prince will live happily ever after! lol, that was cute.

  9. I'm just watching the clock til time for the wedding! How close you got to be to Princess Di!

    Big TX Hugs,
    Angelic Accents

  10. I was on a train coming from Mali to the coast of Ivory Coast during the 1981 Royal Wedding. There was an Australian, Kiwi, many citizens of African former colonies, my English boyfriend, me a Canadian: we toasted the Diana and Charles, sang every song with the most remote English connection, danced - the whole train car for some time.

    It was magical - almost seems like a movie when I remember it.

    Lots of tragedy in that marriage and Ivory Coast since then but it was a celebration I would not trade to have been at the "proper" one.

  11. Adorable post. My favorite story was No. 1. What gracious hosts you had to have lent you their own TV for you to watch. Also enjoyed reading about the coincidence that your son is also getting married this year. Learned so much about you in this sweet post.

  12. Thanks for stopping by my blog, I will enjoy getting to know you through your blog. The saucer was a gift from my Bestie who went on a tour of the Palace a few years ago.

  13. That is pretty cool - some neat memories. thanks for sharing the pics!

  14. Thanks for sharing your experiences! I was 17 years old from Virginia, USA and visiting friends in Ottawa in 1983. At the time I was dating my future (and present!) wife who shares some of the Princess' beautiful facial features- so I was one of the many young male admirers at the front edge of the crowd that day. For many years I kept the little Canadian flag someone handed me that day and I will forever treasure the memories. Thanks for rekindling them!