Monday, March 21, 2011

My royal treatment.

Jennifer Huffman
Napa Valley Register
Monday, March 21, 2011

I’ve got wedding fever. I’m talking about the royal wedding. You know, the one of William of Wales and Catherine Middleton. That royal wedding.

I’m not British. I’ve never lived in the U.K. I don’t think we need a King or Queen of America. But I love the royal family, every irrelevant one of them.

It all started in 1981 when Diana got engaged. I was 14 and when I saw that engagement ring, that blue suit and that adoring prince, I was hooked. A blushing 19-year-old schoolteacher marrying a real-live prince was surely the Most Romantic Thing Ever.

The night of that royal wedding, my mom got me up in the middle of the night to watch the ceremony live on TV. I was mesmerized by Diana’s dress, the famous 25-foot train, her tiara, and the bridesmaids. The new princess was only five years older than me. One of the bridesmaids was my age. That could be me, I thought at the time.

I carefully noted the wedding details — everything from the golden coaches to the flowers. This was the closest thing to a real-life fairy tale I could imagine. For Christmas that year, my parents gave me a coffee table book about the royal wedding that I still have. Yeah, I had royal fever big time.

So when William finally made his move this year and put that same ring on Kate’s finger, I went down the Royal Rabbit Hole once again.

After hearing that the April 29 wedding is at 11 a.m. London time, which is 2 a.m. in Napa, I realized that I’d need to stay up all night to watch the event live. And watching it live is a must. There will be no sleeping during the royal wedding.

Lucky for me, it turns out that the wedding date also happens to be a school holiday, which is absolutely perfect timing for me to take a day off of work for the wedding. I don’t have to rush to get any kids ready in the morning or drive anyone to school that day. Thank you William and Kate!

What would be even better would be to actually go to London for the royal wedding. Just for fun, I looked online at royal wedding travel tours.

Most involved taking buses from other locations in England and camping out near Buckingham Palace. But even if I was to sign up for a tour, getting to London was the problem. The Huffman Family has no international travel budget.

A few weeks ago, my husband casually remarked during dinner that he noticed the “Today Show” was having a contest to win a trip to London during the royal wedding.

Contest … Royal Wedding … London ... this has my name written all over it!

I got on the “Today Show” website to see the rules. Each contestant would need to submit a two-minute video and 300-word essay.

I gathered my production staff (daughters), producer (Don), and editor (myself). OK, people, I said. We’re making a video. I want to win that trip!

In my video I explained how I’m a reporter at a small-town newspaper. Covering the royal wedding live in London isn’t something my editor would assign me to work on. The Napa Valley Register has no international travel budget.

This is my only chance to get to London, I said in my video. This could be my big break in journalism. Pick me!

After sending off my video and essay, I sat back to wait for the “Today Show” phone call. And waited. And waited. A few days later I checked the NBC website.

I didn’t win.

Since I wasn’t going to London, I figured I’d just read all about it here in Napa.

First, I’ll need a subscription to Majesty magazine, the U.K.-based magazine for all things royal. I tried entering my credit card number three different times at the magazine’s website, but I couldn’t get the transaction to go through. Instead, I settled for a subscription to the British gossip magazine HELLO.

About an hour later my husband called me on my cell phone.

Visa is calling about some attempts to use your credit card in England, he said. They want to know if they should put a fraud alert on your card.

Um, no, I said. That was me. I was ordering a subscription to Majesty magazine.

I see, he said.

Even though I won’t be at the royal wedding, I won’t be alone when I watch it. So far, two out of three Huffman girls have told me they will also stay up for the big event.

We can have tea and scones, I said.

It’ll be almost like we’re there.

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