Marijke Vandergrift grew up in a family fascinated by the monarchy – with all its warts and wonders. Her great aunt, Bonnie, and her grandmother, Jean, would spend hours poring over issues of Monarch, Majesty and Hello magazines. They received letters from the Queen on anniversaries. They could chat about Diana – and what befell her – for hours. Their passion was passed on to Vandergrift, 31, who has her phone programmed to get royal news 24 hours a day. When Kate and William got married she went to her (equally obsessed) Uncle John’s at 3 a.m. to assess every detail of the wedding ceremony’s pomp and pageantry. This time she’s hosting her own royal wedding party for Meghan and Harry. Here, she reveals what she has planned for their – and her – big day.
I come from a long line of monarchists. All my great aunts loved the monarchy and my grandmother was convinced I would marry Prince Harry. Instead I married an Irishman, who hails from Dublin, who is definitely not a fan of the royals. Historic issues with the monarchy remain strong to this day, even though I think my mother-in-law secretly likes them.
Ten of my girlfriends are joining me at 7 a.m, plus my Uncle John who has encyclopedic knowledge of all things royal. He’s also funny, which makes for fascinating TV-viewing. All of us are about Meghan’s age so this royal wedding feels particularly relevant to us. They’re quite philanthropic and they’ve asked for no gifts, which I think is admirable. This is the royal couple that connects to this generation.
This wedding will be very different from ones before because there are personal aspects that are a real mystery. There are complications on the bride’s side of the family. Her father has been very low profile. Will Princess Michael of Kent be there? She wore a blackamoor brooch to the Queen’s Christmas lunch – the first major event for Meghan. [Blackamoor jewellery and art romanticizes slavery]. Also, Meghan’s divorced, so will she wear white?
We’re all getting dressed up for the royal wedding in dresses, hats and/or fascinators. I have a vintage pink floral dress, with lace overlay. Now I just need to find the right hat. After Easter, you’re apparently supposed to wear hats, not fascinators.
I’m serving homemade scones with Devon cream and fresh jam, Champagne, and pots and pots of tea. We’re having afternoon tea because it’s what the higher classes had. High tea is actually a lower-class meal with hot and savoury items. I’m also making petite madeleine [sponge cake].
What’s exciting about Meghan and Harry’s wedding is it won’t be as formal as William and Kate’s. They’ll have a bit more liberty and less protocol. This isn’t a state occasion with all the dignitaries who were at Charles and Diana’s wedding. The 600 people on the invite list are still a bit of a mystery so I can’t wait to see who walks into the church. The Brits are so good at the pomp and pageantry. I especially love the hats. Beatrice and Eugenie often have such terrible ones. Princess Beatrice wore a thing that looked like an open toilet seat to William’s wedding
The other moms coming to the house are bringing their kids, so who knows, maybe the next generation of royal watchers will be formed.
My husband is horrified I’m having this party and he doesn’t think the wedding should be celebrated. But the great irony here is that he’s recently applied for Canadian citizenship so the running joke in our family is that he has to pledge allegiance to the Queen.
As told to Gayle MacDonald.