SamHenry’s Family Had a “Royal” Enough Wedding Thanks to the American Dream

Posted on November 19, 2010


Kate Middleton may have some Brits down because she is not from stock with coats of arms and titles.  Her’s is more the American story.  SamHenry likes to say whenever someone on this side of the pond waxes arrogant: “None among us came here as deposed royalty.”  However, it doesn’t mean that some did not fantasize that they had.

SamHenry’s  paternal Great Grandfather came from a thatched roof home (it still stands) in Ayrshire, Scotland.  After becoming successful, he liked to travel back to his homeland in great style. His son, my grandfather,  was a studied Anglophile and spoke with a feigned British accent because, as he explained to a young SamHenry, “it just sounded better.”  One summer grandfather said to his sister:

Grace as a young woman

“Grace (the woman he wanted to marry who was a wealthy neighbor and orphaned) will be traveling to Europe with her aunt.  I am going to try to catch up with her in London.  I plan to ask her to marry me.  I’ll take my golf clubs and go up to St. Andrews if she says no.”  His sister and he booked passage and left.

Engagement PortraitShe said yes!  But they did not just throw a wedding together.  Grace had an engagement portrait taken by a royal photographer, the wedding dress was made for her in Vienna and she purchased two  loving cups: one to exchange with her husband and the other the minister who conducted the service.

For the honeymoon, grandfather hired a yacht to anchor off Cowes on the aisle of Wight – the place where the royal yacht was always kept.  He also had to contact the Archbishop of Canterbury.  Why?  He needed permission to marry in the church of his choice: St. Margaret’s Westminster, parish church of the House of Commons.

St. Margaret’s is the small  church on the left next to the Abbey.  Westminster Abbey is the possible venue for William and Kate’s wedding:

ST. Margaret's to the Left of Westminster Abbey

Interior, St. Margaret's.

Grandmother at the time of her marriage early 1900s

And so what has all of the above meant not just for this family, but for the “American dream”?  Grandfather, like so many other European Americans who had families forced to leave the old country due to economic adversity, was signaling to friends and relatives on both sides of the Atlantic that he had not only triumphed but that he was as good as anyone – even the royals.  He knew that money could buy you just about anything except royal blood.  It could also buy you and your heirs security.

Sadly, in today’s America, there is less  chance one can achieve this degree of triumph. Each passing day  brings  with it the passage of another piece of progressive legislation aimed at redistributing the wealth.  Criminals in high places have accumulated untold wealth through illegal means and have bankrupt this country;  broken social service systems have allowed money to flow like sand and have resulted in thousands living in dire circumstances in our own country.  The American dream is unraveling.

The next decades in America we will be grappling with two main  questions:  What will it cost to keep a net under every citizen in this country?  What is enough wealth for an individual to attain?  We are in the midst of a seismic shift in the  social order.  Exploding populations and reduction of sufficient resources have brought most of this to our door.  The near future will be very unlike the near past.

As for SamHenry, life in my generation is very, very simple and reduced in circumstance.  But the valuable things remain – family, friends, enough food, shelter and excellent memories!  The world is changing.  It always does.

©On My Watch…the writings of SamHenry.  Registration pending.