On April 29, 2011 my alarm buzzed at some stupid early hour and I stumbled downstairs to curl up on my couch and watch a fairy tale play out on live TV. I was living in a duplex in Indianapolis, working for a tech company and managing a film festival in my “free time.” My life was pretty consistent, and I was happy(ish). I made a decent salary at a job I didn’t love but did do well (with awesome coworkers), and after seven years in Indy I had a solid circle of friends. Despite an innate awareness that this wouldn’t be where I lived and made my life forever, I’d created something pretty sweet for myself nonetheless.
That morning, I turned on CNN (I even had cable back then!) to watch – along with the rest of the world – the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton. I make no bones about my royal affinity, and I’m not interested in being talked out of it. There are so few things in this modern world of ours that inspire awe, so few institutions that exist (at least in its modern incarnation) to simply do good and serve. Five years on, the Will and Kate fairy tale continues, and perhaps more impressively, the British Royal Family has undergone a generational transformation as deft and necessary as any, keeping them in lock step with the times.
My own five years have proven eventful as well, albeit in slightly (ok, astronomically) different ways. Hearing the news that today marks the couple’s fifth anniversary (I do love them, but I don’t have it marked on a calendar), I couldn’t help but think of that morning watching the ceremony with rapt attention, and all that’s happened to me in the intervening years.
In the Royal couple’s first year of marriage, they honeymooned in Australia and settled into their first home in Anglesey, an island off the northern coast of Wales. That same year, I led the annual Indy Film Fest to another successful event and kept busy with work and life on top of it. The seeds of discontent were starting to sprout, but overall I was still in a good place.
By year two of the Duke and Duchess’s wedded bliss, it was time for both of us to shake things up. Just as Kate found herself pregnant with their first child, I was packing up my life for a move to Park City. Mere months before they’d welcome Prince George (and right around their second anniversary in 2013), I picked up and moved again, this time over to New York for the next chapter of this turbulent time in my life (but not before my own tour of India). George would arrive in July of that year, and I soaked up the news just as ravenously as I did of their wedding. I remember sitting at my desk refreshing news websites, waiting for the announcement he’d arrived!
A year later, as their third anniversary rolled around, it seemed both of us were enjoying the status quo. Will, Kate and George won the world over with their perfection, and I was happy as a clam in my new Williamsburg digs. All would not stay so copacetic, though, as the Duke and Duchess had another pregnancy in the wings and my time in New York was winding down.
And so, it was right around their 4th anniversary in 2015 that it all changed again. I packed up one more time and moved back to Chicago, and just as Kate was due to deliver the soon-to-be Princess Charlotte, I traveled abroad to spend a long week in England, Ireland and Iceland. Being in country when Princess Charlotte arrived – and saving one of the day’s newspapers from the day her name was announced! – is one of my best memories from a trip stuffed with great ones.
Through it all, the growing family (with Prince Harry always not far behind) have stepped into their roles as the new face of the monarchy, with global tours and local events keeping them front and center in the minds of their subjects and the world over. It’s been quite ingenious, really. Though no one could ever replace William’s mother Diana in the hearts of a certain generation, he and his young family are certainly giving it a go. As the Queen celebrates her 90th birthday and Prince Charles and Camilla keep a low profile, the young royals are winning hearts and minds left and right – and doing a lot of good while they do.
Another year has passed, and the fifth anniversary of that storybook ceremony is garnering all kinds of coverage as the world (or just those of us paying attention) celebrate that there is such thing as happily ever after…at least from a distance. And as if on cue, I’m circling around another change of my own (more of that later). Five years on from that early morning, curled up on my couch in Indianapolis, watching Kate walk down the aisle to her future as life marched on around me, my life today might not look anything like hers. But I’d like to think I’ve done OK for myself, that I’ve filled the last five years with forward momentum and timeless memories and worthwhile experiences of my own.
Now to work on that whole Prince Charming thing…