Me: “We need to get there early so we see the whole run-up to the wedding” (thinking crazy hats, mad wigs, the royal family arriving).
DH: “Run-up? What run-up? Is there a support wedding, in case the main one doesn’t work out?”
Me: “Look at the dress – and the train.”
BB: (ears pricking up). “Train! – Is it diesel or electric?”
So the level of interest in my family ranged from high (me, remembering Charles and Di so lovingly) to zero (the rest of them), although DH, resigned in the knowledge that he did marry a Brit, amicably agreed to go along with the whole thing.
I was determined that we’d celebrate, despite being far from England with all its street parties, pomp and circumstance, spring weather and days off (feeling quite homesick at this point, I might add). On my side was the fact there are so many Brits here in Dubai – plus it was a timely show. Starting at 2pm on what is a weekend day in the UAE, it coincided perfectly with a Dubai expat staple – the Friday brunch.
Street parties were out of the question, of course, because of the heat, but the city’s hotels and clubs came up with the goods, and even the bunting. At the Dubai Raffles, a royal roast was held with a five-tier wedding cake, while the Polo Club hosted a 12-hour extravaganza, complete with an afternoon of polo. In Jumeriah (the Chelsea of Dubai), you could drop into the Hilton for high tea, including cucumber sandwiches, scones, a Prince Harry (chunky sandwiches, a slab of cake and a pint) and Princess Bea’s Chocolate Afternoon Tea.
All sounds rather civilised, doesn’t it? The trouble was I’d left it too late to get bookings for any of the above – and an invite from the British Embassy for its invitation-only bash failed to materialise.
But my desire to see a prematurely balding aristocrat marry a well-spoken girl from Berkshire and spend a day eating my favourite British nosh (how I crave sausage rolls out here!) was well and truly satisfied. A kind and more organised American friend invited us to join her table at the golf course royal brunch, where we dined on roast beef and Yorkshire puds and watched the wedding on a big screen, albeit at the same time as doing dinosaur stickers with the kids. (Just love how our American friends pronounce Bucking-ham – rhyming it with spam – here I go again, talking about food I miss.)
Later, we trooped down to a royal beach party for a knees-up on the Gulf. It was boiling hot until the sun went down – our turn to get roasted – but well worth it to see so many bikini-clad Brits on Union Jack towels raising their glasses, along with revellers of all nationalities enjoying a jolly good party.
So, a great, flag-waving day it was, even here in the desert. I did get to see the hats (my favourites being the ones that jutted out obtrusively from people’s foreheads and Tara P-T’s shoe-on-her-head contraption). Like I have very vague memories of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977 – we all got commemorative plates, followed by Golden Wonder crisps and squash on the school lawn – BB at least may remember something of the royal nuptials. And we didn’t have to worry whether it would rain or not. Sunshine was guaranteed.
The royal pageantry aside, I was also fascinated by how my English friends living overseas were celebrating. My friend in Azerbaijan did get an invite from the British Embassy and spent the afternoon at the ambassador’s residence, even winning the royal quiz. She went home with an apron. Over in the States, my fellow blogger Nappy Valley girl watched the wedding in bed at 5am, making good use of her new teapot.
The comments her littleboys made are so good, I have to repeat them:
Littleboy 1: Where’s the King? There’s no King? (she explained about the Duke of Edinburgh). He must be older than the Queen. He’s taller. Where’s the president? (Good question….)
Littleboy 2: I like that girl. The one in the white dress.