Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Once upon a time, a young couple got married, and everyone lost their minds

By the time you read this, the so-called "fairytale wedding" of this young century will be blessedly over, otherwise excellent journalists may have stopped interviewing ex-royal hairdressers and the like, and God willing everyone in the vast media encampment set up in the centre of London will have shut up.

And no, I'm not bitter I wasn't there.

At one point, when this newspaper was briefly contemplating dispatching a contingent for the nuptials (sensibly, we instead mostly relied upon The Globe's excellent correspondents, Doug Saunders and Liz Renzetti, who are stationed there), I was even asked if I'd be interested in going.

Story continues below advertisement

Not a chance in hell, I said, without a quiver of doubt.

I'd covered the royal fairytale wedding (Prince Charles and Diana) of the last century and knew from painful experience this sort of thing isn't my shtick, nor theirs either, as it turned out.

And the only other purported fairytale wedding I've had any exposure to, albeit well after the fact, was of the serial killer and rapist Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka - complete with her stupidly big white dress and their ridiculous horse-drawn carriage.

The couple married not long after Ms. Homolka's baby sister, Tammy, died during their drugging of and protracted sexual assault upon her, and I remember well how Ms. Homolka was enraged that her parents were still grieving the loss of their youngest child, and not sufficiently in the wedding mood for her liking. Her dress should have been filthy and black, like her amoral heart.

Even before then and them, I was never big on the dream wedding, the princess thing (despite the proclamation this week by one Toronto columnist that "girls want princesshood"), the cult of celebrity or the cloying writing about all of it that has been passed off as reportage these long last days.

I don't claim never to have been cloying in print or written trash myself, merely that I don't have the knack for doing it about the British royal family. Those who wear mostly jeans and T-shirts should never be put in the position of describing others people's clothes, which is all I could ever think of writing whenever I've covered anything royal.

I was a tomboy as a kid. My chosen activity with my few dolls was to hold them by their feet and bang their heads against the wall, as my father and I roared with delight.

Story continues below advertisement

One Christmas, in an act of imperfect defiance at the Barbie cult, I asked for and got a pretend carpenter's tool set so I could pretend-hammer and pretend-saw throughout the house. (I wish I'd thought of pretend-nailing Barbie to a tree or something.) I never wanted a little stove of my own, a fake oven or baby-girl lipstick. I never once dreamed of walking up the aisle, though I did it twice in real life. It never occurred to me to have a hope chest (Ms. Homolka had one, but of course, which the government of Ontario later had burned, with much of the other evidence in the case) or to collect things for my future life as a married woman.

I thought of none of these things as a girl, and now that I am old and grey, I think what it all collectively speaks to is the sort of stunted ambition that infects many of my gender, and a fair number of gay men too.

But maybe it reflects poorly or tellingly of me, or maybe people just like the clothes, though it doesn't matter much in the end.

I simply don't get any of it, any more than I understood the protracted loopy wailing that went up across the planet when Diana died. The fascination, the cooing (as a pal wrote me, "The entire world all acting like 17-year-olds at a prom - what are you wearing?"), the chirpy affected writing, the special sections and reproduced invites - it all leaves me unmoved.

A few months back, I was mistakenly invited to a fancy lunch attended by a number of really accomplished women and some celebrities.

One in both categories was the Canadian astronaut Julie Payette, who as befits someone who has been in space and speaks English and French fluently and four other languages conversationally and who is a married mother of two and a good athlete and a talented musician, was funny, wry, compelling, ├╝ber-smart.

Story continues below advertisement

She was nicely dressed, but without a stitch of makeup on her face, and at one point, I remember two of the other guests, gorgeous young women, openly staring at her and asking how it was possible she appeared to be wearing no makeup.

Ms. Payette just grinned, and said she never did, or something like that.

The young women were obviously gob-smacked, and one of them actually reached out and gently touched Ms. Payette's naked cheek to be sure, then turned to the other and pronounced it a fact.

I don't know why, but somehow that moment defines for me what this week was not about, especially for girls.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct Licensing Options
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this resolved by the end of January 2018. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to