Royal Wedding Rewind: Victoria Arbiter Gives Us The Inside Scoop
If you didn’t catch our interview with royal expert Victoria Arbiter back in December, catch up on what the CBS correspondant had to say about covering the royal wedding in London, and how to behave should you find yourself in the company of a royal.
Stay tuned for Friday’s all-new interview with Arbiter, who brings us up to speed on the royal couple!
SL: What was it like covering the Royal Wedding from London?
VA: There was this one really poignant moment for me, and I think it’s just because my father had worked for Diana and because I experienced time with her and adored her so much. The forecast predicted it would storm all day; There were grey clouds in the morning, everyone was really worried about it. Kate came past Buckingham Palace in the car and her car turned on to the mall. Then suddenly, the sun came out. It’s really hokey and a bit peaky to say this, but it was like Diana had just arrived. She wasn’t there and her presence was so missed. The night before the wedding was really sad, just thinking about the fact that she was missing it. And so, that was a really special moment when the sun came out on a day we were expecting rain and torrential thunderstorms.
(I’ve completely lost it at this point)
It was just lovely and I know how much Diana adored her boys and I think she would love Kate. She’s everything, I think, Diana wished for William. And to see it finally come to life, to happen it… You could feel her. You knew she was there and that day was a nice way to inject some happiness and joy back into Westminster Abbey. The last time we saw William there was for his mother’s funeral.
SL: She did such a fantastic job raising William and Harry
VA: They are gentlemen through and through, and they’ve got the very best qualities of both their parents. It’s remarkable how that happened, and how well adjusted they are despite what they’ve been through. And it’s bizarre, how the photographers catch William at a certain angle and, gosh, he looks just like Diana. It’s uncanny. In his eyes you can see the compassion, you can see the same empathy that she had. It’s incredible.
SL:When you were growing up, what sort of royal protocols did you notice that not a lot of people would pick up regarding the Queen and senior members of the Royal Family? For instance, with Prince Philip-does he really have to walk two steps behind Her Majesty?
VA: It’s not so much dictated as it is a sign of respect. Queen Elizabeth is the sovereign. She is the monarch of our country and Prince Philip’s actions are not done in the same way as, says, customs in the Middle East where it’s frowned upon for a woman to walk ahead of their husband. It’s more that Philip is respecting her position. He’s showing his allegiance to her in a really subtle way. The protocol is flabbergasting when you get into the nitty gritty of it. Which is why it’s lovely to see that Kate is being broken into it so slowly. It’s a lot to learn and for someone like William, who’s grown up with said protocols, it’s second nature to him.
Anyone marrying into the family would be quite overwhelmed by all the simple things that are done. For example, when my father turned 50, Diana threw him a private birthday party at Kensington Palace. It was very subtle ways that you sort of recognized what the order of things were. When Diana finished her meal, we all stopped eating regardless of whether or not we were done. When she stood up, the party was over and it was time to go. It’s simple things that show you that you were not to outstay your welcome or that it’s time to move on, so that everything is very appropriate, but in a comfortable way. Protocol is just done for the comfort of the Royal Family because so many people are starstruck and don’t quite know how to behave. Protocol is very helpful as a guideline, really.
SL: At the BAFTA dinner back in July, someone had briefed guests in the room before William and Catherine came in and explained, “You don’t have to curtsy, you don’t have to bow, you can just shake their hand. Do William and Kate not want anyone follow protocol?
VA: I think William and Kate hope to make everybody as comfortable as possible. They recognize that royalty can be seen as something of an archaic institution to younger generations and that people think it’s a bit silly these days to have to curtsy to someone. I think it’s the mark of respect to their position and to who they are that it’s appropriate to curtsy or bow. But I think it’s part of their transformation of this new generation of the monarchy, I suppose, where they want to be seen as more accessible, to be more available to people.
They got a wonderful way with the everyday person, just as Diana did. It’s really more about having an understanding of regular people. Prince Charles is criticized with being aloof or standoffish, but he’s of a different generation and that’s how he was brought up to behave. It can, however, make him quite difficult to feel a personal connection with. William knows it’s a terrible burden to bear that the future of the monarchy does really rest on his and Kate’s shoulders. And so in order to make it successful, they’ve got to make themselves as open and available to people as possible, and that is, of course the younger generation. I think it’s lovely to see this couple idolized. It’s refreshing. Kate, of course is such a lady. She is the epitome of class and decorum rather than seeing a photo Paris Hilton falling out of a night club, flashing her underwear.
SL: That’s another thing that we absolutely adore about Kate. She is a classic beauty. It’s so wonderful for young girls to have someone the Duchess of Cambridge to look up to, be it fashion-wise or behavioral-wise, and it’s exciting that she’s going to be the Queen of England someday. This is the woman that everyone can look up to.
VA: Absolutely. I think we can really feel confident about her future role. There were naysayers in the beginning who said, “Oh, they’ll never make it” or “They’ll get divorced, I give them 10 years,” but I think just the way the palace is introducing Kate to royal life speaks volumes of what they’ve learned in the past and how much support she has. It’s these sorts of elements put in place that are really going to help her continue.
When Diana was told, “You’re the Princess…and GO!” it was incredibly hard.Plus, she was 10 years younger than Kate without a university degree. I get cross when people say that Kate’s not doing enough. If you just threw Kate out there, it’s like saying to someone who’s just graduated medical school, “Okay, now do a triple bypass surgery on your own.” It’s a job just the same as any other job. Kate needs to gain experience and learn to do it to the best of her abilities. I think she’s got a very bright future ahead and I’m excited to see what she’s got in store for us.