On this day when the world is focused on London and the Royal Wedding, I keep thinking about the effect it must be having on grandparents all over the world: British grandparents in particular. After focusing so many years writing my book on helping grandparents survive divorce in the family, it is a pleasure to focus on a wedding for a change. Especially on a wedding that involves an adult child of divorce whose family has dealt with the intricacies of dealing with the divorce problem for two generations of weddings.
I think that grandparents in particular are thrilled to watch this Royal Wedding. After all during most of our lives we have experienced three of them. The first one in 1947 when as a Princess, Queen Elizabeth married her prince, Lieutenant Phillip Mountbatten. We did not watch the glorious spectacle on the tiny television screens of that day; rather we crowded into theatres to watch the event on the big screen. As we left the theatre, each of us girls was dreaming of becoming a princess and marrying their prince one day.
We never dreamed that as we would grow up, marry and have families, so many of us would have to deal with divorce in the family. In both the U.S. and the U.K. grandparents dealing with divorce seems to be at a similar rate. We also share another similarity. According to an article by Dr. Miriam Stoppard in this week’s U.K. Mirror, “Half of the UK’s 14 million grandparents look after grandchildren and almost all of them do it for free.” Even though the U.S. has more grandparents due to their larger population, the U.S. grandparents are filling in to take care of their grandchildren in the same way.
With this particular wedding ,as grandparents, we are sharing joy in the joining of these two beautiful young people, one of whom we previously shared such sadness and loss. It is a time to think of the prayer many grandparents have when each of their grandchildren are born, “Please let me live to see this grandchild’s wedding!” So today we will see a wedding that in part answers this prayer. For Catherine, who has no living grandparent to share this day, grandparents around the world will be sending her wishes for a happy life. For William who is blessed with living grandparents, we will be sending him our hopes that his life will be happy and as long as his great grandmother’s.
It is sharing in all these similar joys and sorrows that bond us today. Grandparents are watching this celebration of a Royal Wedding in the hopes that their grandchildren will be inspired and encouraged to continue the tradition of marriage for as long as they all shall live.