This past Saturday morning, I rose early and flipped on my television to watch the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Approximately 2 billion people around the globe also watched, feasting their eyes on the beautiful couple and the British monarchy’s spectacular celebration of love and the joining of two backgrounds and cultures. Not many years ago, I would have watched this wedding from the vantage point of what it would be like to be in the bride’s metaphorical glass slippers. But as I watched this momentous ceremony unfold, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to be Meghan’s mother. I have so many questions for Meghan’s mom. What’s it like to watch your little girl, your princess, become a Duchess?
What was it like to get a phone call from your daughter and hear her say that she’s been on a wonderful date . . . with the Prince of England? How did it feel the first time you walked through the supermarket line and saw her smiling face looking back at you from the pages of tabloids? Did you worry that she would become tabloid fodder and nothing more? As the relationship became more serious, were you surprised she was winning the Prince’s heart, or were you completely unaffected, as you’ve known since you first held her in your arms what a remarkable creature she is, and that any man, prince or otherwise, would be lucky to have her?
Were you with her when she selected (or had selected for her) the dress she would wear to walk down that long aisle and make history? The dress that would be copied and mass produced within hours of her appearing in it on TV screens around the world? Was it a much different experience than taking her shopping for a prom dress many years ago? Were you both just as anxious as you were then? Did you agree with her choice this time, other than times before, when you thought she should go another way, but the look in her eyes when she saw “the dress” convinced you to let her have it? (Do you still have that prom dress in a box in the attic?)
Did you keep your eyes downcast for much of the ceremony for the same reason I become intensely interested in something in my lap anytime my own daughters perform in public? Do you find that looking directly at your child during her biggest moments makes you feel all her joy, her pride, and her apprehension at such an intense level that you fear it might physically break something within your own self? Did you worry if you let more than just a small amount of emotion show, the dam would break and you would become a puddle of feelings on the centuries-old bricks of Windsor castle?
What was it like in the car ride through Windsor, on the way to give your girl away? Was there any small piece of marriage advice you could give to the woman who captured the most eligible bachelor in the world? Or did you feel like you were completely out of your element, and that all your words were worthless? Did you wave at all the well-wishers on the roadside, thinking of how they could never know what a true wonder she really is? Were you excited for her excitement, but at the same time, mourning for the passing of what would be considered a “normal” life for her? It will be a rare day that she will ever again be able to jump in a car of her own accord, looking disheveled, to run to the market for a gallon of milk. Anything less than full hair and makeup, a smart outfit, and a 1,000-watt smile will be a massive disappointment to these admirers, who can (and will) change their opinion of your girl in less than a moment.
You must know by now that Meghan can never truly come home again. The logistics of the security detail and paparazzi control will surely make that an impossibility. But are you more saddened to think that once a palace becomes her home, she’ll no longer wish for a seat at your rickety kitchen table or a nap on your well-worn couch? Or that maybe she will wish for it, but her new life won’t allow it, and you, the mother of royalty, will never be able to trump the Queen mother. Do you sometimes wish that you could trade your place in history in exchange for the chance to be just Grandma (or MiMi, or Gamma, or whatever an angel baby decides to call you) to a brood of little ones who are intensely loved by a small circle of admirers, and not gazed and commented upon by the entire world?
When it’s all over, and you come back home, what’s it like to be “Meghan’s mom”? Do the butcher and the dry cleaner give you special treatment? Do distant relatives surface from their hiding spots, wanting access to your newfound celebrity? Are you weary of the scrutiny, but keep that detail from your daughter so she doesn’t feel like she’s dragged you somewhere you don’t want to be? Will she call you from the honeymoon? Will you laugh at the antics of the guests at the reception? Will you wish you could pore over the pictures with her in your living room, instead of looking them up online and sharing them with billions of others?
Dear Meghan’s Mom, what’s it like to watch your little girl, your princess, become a Duchess?
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