For The Tribune-Democrat
England – London, specifically – America and the rest of the world have caught royal fever with the impending nuptials of the prince and his princess-to-be.
Millions will get up in the wee hours of the morning to turn on the telly (as the Brits call it) to watch the pageantry and history parade by via satellite linkup from London. The dapper prince and his beautiful commoner bride will take center stage as they exchange vows in a large Gothic church steeped in history.
The year is 1981 … Or is it 2011?
Actually, it is both. History will repeat itself somewhat on Friday.
Prince William, first-born son of Prince Charles and the late Diana, Princess of Wales, will wed Katherine “Kate” Middleton amidst much tradition and pageantry, pomp and circumstance.
The royal event will echo the wedding of William’s parents 30 years ago, although some of the proceedings and backdrop are different. William and Kate have been cohabitating for some time now, while Charles and Diana had not. And while both grooms would be about the same age (Charles, 30; William, 28), Diana was much younger (20) than Kate (28).
There is, of course, the back story of Diana’s tragedy looming offstage (the infidelities, drama and death that culminated 13 years ago) which adds a poignancy to the 2011 royal wedding. Not to mention the huge amount of love the world (and Great Britain) had for Diana as she rewrote the royal mission statement with her works of charity.
But Kate (with William’s love and support) seems well up to the task to escaping Diana’s large shadow.
To those of us who remember Charles and Diana’s wedding, it seems hard to believe that
30 years have passed so quickly.
Technology has moved at virtual light speed since 1981: Computers, the Internet, cell phones, smart phones, hybrid cars. And 1981 saw the launch of the first space shuttle (Columbia) as well as the launch of a cultural phenomenon: MTV. That year also brought assassination attempts on two of the most powerful men in the world: Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan; fortunately, both survived.
The world watched as various historical and cultural events unfolded: The fall of the Berlin Wall and communism, the rise and power of cable television news, the rise (and fall) of New Wave and various other music trends, not to mention fashions.
The fall of media icons: OJ Simpson arrested and charged with the murder of his wife, the shocking and tragic deaths of John F. Kennedy Jr. and his wife in a plane crash at sea, singer Kurt Cobain’s suicide and Tiger Woods’ infidelity scandals.
There were also “second acts” of some who re-emerged in the spotlight: Former astronaut and senator John Glenn made history once again by becoming the oldest person to go into space (at age 77).
The past 30 years also witnessed the emerging steroid scandal in baseball and sports, another president impeached, the AIDS epidemic, our first African-American president, the first Gulf War and current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
And there were the al-Qaida terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, when our world was changed forever.
And so, we view the 2011 royal wedding with much hope (for a better world) and much fear (that the terrorists might try to strike again) this Friday.
The world wishes William and Kate well as they embrace their unknown future and promising legacy with firm resolve.
Bill Eggert is a Johnstown native. You can read his blog at http://thebillvilleblog.wordpress.com.
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