Opinion: Your royal wedding fix -- well, at least some of the guests were royal


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Three months after her second grandson was married, Queen Elizabeth II’s first granddaughter also got hitched over the weekend -– a very different affair from the April nuptials of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.

Zara Phillips, the accomplished equestrian daughter of accomplished equestrian parents, Princess Anne and Mark Phillips, wed a fellow athlete, rugby captain Mike Tindall, in Scotland, at Edinburgh’s Canongate Kirk.


The church is only a smidge over 300 years old, but thanks to its much older neighbors, including the palace of Holyroodhouse, its churchyard has some notable graves; the most notable, hands down, is that of David Rizzio. He was private secretary to Mary, Queen of Scots, and there is gory lore about his death: Rizzio was stabbed to death in Holyroodhouse by Scottish nobles, right at Queen Mary’s feet, as the conspirators held a gun on her when she tried to protect him.

Yes, well, that was a long time ago.

The weekend’s wedding had royal guests, of course, starting with Mary of Scots’ descendant, the queen, and her husband, Prince Philip; the bride’s grandparents; her uncle, Charles, the prince of Wales; and her cousin, Prince William, duke of Cambridge, and his new wife, Kate.

The bridegroom, according to the Daily Telegraph, passed the time waiting for his bride by waiting outside the church with his rugby buddies. He chewed gum. Nerves, surely.

Zara Phillips is 13th in line for the throne and has no royal title, by her mother’s long-ago request. In ages past it would have been unthinkable for a grandchild of a ruling monarch not to be styled a royal highness, but like everybody else the throne is cutting back.

For the first year or so of her life, Zara was sixth in line to the throne, after her uncles, Charles, Andrew and Edward, her mother, and her elder brother, Peter. That was many royal marriages and offspring ago, all of which bumped her far down the succession list, where she takes a backseat -- certainly not a back throne -- to all of her Windsor cousins and even her own niece.

The bride did wear a regal diamond tiara, though. It belongs to her mother, Princess Anne, who had it given to her by her mother, the queen, who’d never worn it in public –- she has so many, after all.


And where did the queen get it? No, not EBay. Please. A little decorum.

She got it from her own mother-in-law, Princess Andrew of Greece. Alice was born Princess Alice of Battenberg in Windsor Castle (and died in Buckingham Palace). She was one of that vast tribe, a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Her godmother and aunt was the last empress of Russia.

The Battenbergs had their name changed to Mountbatten during World War I because of anti-German feeling in Britain, and Alice’s brother Louis grew up to be the ‘honorary grandfather’ who so influenced the young Prince Charles.

Alice became ‘Princess Andrew’ by marrying Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, and had four girls and one boy -– the last, Prince Philip, married the heiress to the British throne. Her life was not easy; she suffered from deafness and other problems, she and her husband split, her son and her sons-in-law were on opposite sides in World War II. But her charity work was renowned, and during the war, in Athens, she hid a Jewish woman and her five children from the Gestapo.

So what does this long-dead lady, the great-grandmother of the bride, have to do with this weekend’s ceremony? It’s Zara’s tiara. Its Greek key pattern pays homage to Princess Andrew’s adopted homeland. It’s named the Meander Tiara, according to Leslie Field’s book on the queen’s regal bling. Meander was a river god of Greek mythology.

That the queen gave it to Princess Anne about 40 years ago is no surprise; it did belong to Philip’s mother, after all, and Princess Anne is Philip’s favorite child.

Mazel tov!

-- Patt Morrison