A touch of Grace for the Royal newlyweds
Our fashionistas saw a lot that they liked in the wedding of the year, Barry Egan says from London
AS Prince William kissed his new wife he must have hoped that he had learned from his parents' mistakes. And earlier, in the same church where Diana's funeral took place on September 6, 1997, perhaps he prayed that he had done enough to make sure those mistakes would not be repeated.
Asked what she believed William would have been thinking with his late mother's arch-enemy Camilla Parker Bowles looking on as he took his marriage vows, entertainer Twink, who watched the wedding on TV in a hotel in Glasgow, said: "You know how I feel about women who ensconce themselves as a third party in a two-party marriage. Makes my blood boil to see a marriage-wrecker like her there in Diana's place."
Noted journalist Ruth Dudley Edwards took a different view of William's take on Camilla, telling me on the day: "He has a very pleasant step-mother whom his beloved father adores and who in a different time could have married him first time out."
William certainly looked a man who had come of age and blissfully in love as he kissed Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge for the first time in public as a married couple on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, cheered on by 500,000 well-wishers.
Irish designer Paul Costelloe said that Kate's dress suited her personality perfectly. "The dress was simple, understated with a slight Fifties influence. She doesn't have to try so hard. She is naturally beautiful," said Costelloe, who of course made dresses for Lady Diana on a number of occasions, adding that "William was great to wear the Irish Guards uniform. Note the shamrock on the collar".
Acclaimed Irish designer Synan O'Mahony, who made Gayle Killilea's wedding dress in 2004 as well as Cecelia Ahern's in 2003, told me that Kate's dress "was beautiful, reminiscent of Grace Kelly's on her wedding day in Monaco in 1956. It was a proper royal wedding dress. I was hoping there was going to be lace and there was. What a creation".
Irish superstar musician Sharon Corr, who watched it, like O'Mahony, at home in Dublin, shared the same view saying that the dress was "wonderfully reminiscent of Grace Kelly. Classic, beautiful, subtle. I love the fact that it was Alexander McQueen".
"The amount of work that went into making a dress look so simple is as difficult as making a complicated dressed. I loved it," agreed fashion entrepreneur Ian Galvin.
Later I stood along the route among the crowds (festooned with Union Jacks, and sporting tiaras, and fascinators) standing 10 or 15 deep to catch a glimpse of the new bride and groom. Will 'n' Kate made their way along the mall in a 100-year-old horse-drawn carriage followed by the Queen and the rest of the born royals and arrivistes in carriages and Jags, Bentleys and Rolls Royces.
It was a hugely enjoyable morning and afternoon of extravagance in a time of austerity.
"Princess Diana would see the blood of the commoner entering the royal family as a very good thing," Noelle Campbell-Sharpe, owner of the Origin Gallery in Dublin and friend of the Middletons, said. Twink added: "Diana would have adored her. What any woman would like for their son: very pretty as opposed to very beautiful; smart; a little on the shy side, like Diana herself."
Ruth Dudley Edwards begged to differ. "Diana would have been jealous of any daughter-in-law. She had a terrible, unloved, childhood and was permanently needy beyond anyone's ability to fulfil." Ruth watched the wedding in London with a mixture of American and Irish friends. "Kate has a good childhood and is emotionally secure. William was devoted to his mother, but he experienced her emotional neediness and is determined not to replicate it."
But at least Kate, unlike Diana, is better prepared for what lies ahead of her as Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge.
Diana never stood a chance. As we know from Andrew Morton's book, the night before Diana's wedding -- having heard that Charles had sent Camilla a present -- she talked to her sister about calling it off. "Too late, Duchess," came the reply, "your face is on the tea towels and the teacups."
Kate Middleton's face is on the tea towels and the teacups but with her prince charming they stand a great chance of happiness within the Firm, as the Royal Family is known.
As Galvin said: "Together, they will survive the little grey men of the monarchy and become the most popular British royal couple in living memory."