TLC celebrates the royal wedding
In a world wracked by rebel uprisings, political downfalls, spiraling prices and sinking confidence, the pomp and pageantry of a British royal wedding may seem not only anachronistic but downright frivolous.
Don’t tell that to American network and cable television, though; they have gone all out and then some to celebrate the nuptials of Queen Elizabeth II’s grandson Prince William and his intended, longtime love Kate Middleton, which takes place at London’s fabled Westminster Abbey on Friday morning.
William’s father is Prince Charles, heir to the throne, and his mother was Princess Diana. Their royal wedding in 1981 was as big a TV sensation as could be had in its day, dragging Yanks out of their beds early to watch live coverage of the demure bride in her enormous pouf of a silk taffeta gown wed her prince.
The couple’s story hardly had a fairytale ending, beginning with a scandalous divorce and concluding with Diana’s untimely death, but many hope that William and Kate find lasting happiness. Cablenet TLC, in partnership with ITV Studios America, the U.S.-based branch of the U.K. studios, launched a weeklong celebration of the wedding last Friday, spanning two continents and involving several of the network’s familiar faces.
On Sunday, there’s the two-hour “Charles and Di: Once Upon a Time”; “Untold Stories of a Royal Bridesmaid,” focusing on Diana’s bridesmaid India Hicks; and “Royally Astounding: 30 Defining Days of the Monarchy.” Then on Monday is “Wild About Prince Harry,” a profile of William’s brother and best man; on Tuesday is “What the Sell? Royal Episodes,” focusing on memorabilia; and Wednesday has “Extreme Royal Collections.”
Thursday is wedding eve, starting with “The Making of a Royal Wedding,” a look into the logistics of the big day. Then “Countdown to the Royal Wedding” gets the party started, with TLC personalities including fashion expert Clinton Kelly (“What Not to Wear”) in London and wedding dress designer Randy Fenoli (“Say Yes to the Dress”) in New York’s Times Square.
Live coverage of the nuptials then launches at 2 a.m. Friday (Pacific) — including a musical performance by singer/songwriter Colbie Caillat — and will be rebroadcast immediately at 6 a.m., and then again in prime time on Friday and Saturday, with bonus content.
Calling in from vacation in Key West, Fla., Kelly admits that he didn’t ask for the job. “I don’t volunteer for much these days,” he says, “so they did ask me. I said, ‘Are you sure I’m the right guy to do this? I’m not that into the royals, and I’m not that into weddings.’ But they insisted I’m the perfect man for the job. So I’m off to London for a week.”
He didn’t even watch the original wedding live, but his British grandmother from New Zealand filled him in on the details. He says, “I do remember thinking, ‘That dress is gigantic. It doesn’t feel very modern.’ I hope Kate chooses a dress that both feels very regal and appropriate to the situation, but there’s also a nod to modernity.”
Fenoli — who is into weddings — says, “I really do hope that she chooses something that is simple enough to show off her beauty and really enhance her beauty, because she’s a gorgeous woman.
“Princess Diana was so beautiful, but her dress overpowered her. However, we do have to keep in mind that Kate’s really not choosing a dress for herself; she’s really choosing a dress for all of England.”
The dress is a state secret until the wedding day, and so is the designer. But it’s almost certain to be a Brit. While many speculate that it could be Sarah Burton, creative director for the couture house of late British designer Alexander McQueen, that’s been roundly denied. But the U.K. has several bridal designers, including Jenny Packham, Phillipa Lepley, Ian Stuart, Suzanne Neville and Bruce Oldfield.
Of course, it’s a decision actually made long ago. Speaking in late March, Kelly says, “Oh, I’m sure the dress is under construction. She’s probably coming close to having a final fitting.
This sort of thing we do not leave to chance.” With all the talk about dresses and ceremonies and hoopla, Fenoli says, “We’re all caught up in the royal wedding, but we’re missing out on the human element.
“Kate’s still a woman; she’s still a bride; she’s marrying the man of her dreams. We’re so caught up in so much of the hype of it that we tend to forget that she’s a real woman.”
“Charles & Di: Once Upon a Time” airs Sunday on TLC.