34 years ago tears of love streamed down my cheeks as I watched my shy bride walk down the aisle, overwhelmed by the attention of over one hundred faces turning to watch her she tripped a little and was steadied by her father’s grip. Her lovely, innocent face so full of love, framed by golden browny hair spilling from a crown of sweetness and over the creamy white shot-silk dress she had designed herself and which was sewn together in the capital of The Maldives, where we had met whilst working for a charity in a remote and lost atoll.
Throughout the extremely long nuptial mass, we couldn’t stop smiling at each other and we wept with the absolute joy of love; “This is the wettest wedding I have ever attended,” the priest-monk in charge of the cathedral exclaimed. That old cantankerous man who had an hour earlier scolded me for being, “Inappropriately dressed!” until I lied that the flowing Indian silk shirt was a present from a prince, turned from disliking me as, “A non-Catholic heathen!” (I'd admitted being an atheist) to congratulating us on, “A superb, spiritual wedding!” The narrow-minded man spoke in exclamations.
Friends who frequented London concerts proclaimed that the music was excellent. Camilla’s friend, an opera singer, gave a moving performance and my 11 year old niece who that year had been accepted at all of the world’s top music schools, played the piano piece she had specifically written for us on an organ which was in such bad condition that she’d had to rewrite it that morning.
Outside under a cherry tree in blossom, we were showered by an extraordinary blast of love as friends took photos, because we’d not wanted the intrusion of a professional. At our feet, two young girls, who are now highly successful women, picked sticks to burn on their home fire. After the meal, at which we gave a joint talk on how we met, we didn’t even complete our ‘First Dance’ to a lively folk band which a dear friend had gifted, for Camilla was attacked by friends desperate to hear her story. Lovely was it was to see everyone, after working on islands which had never encountered Europeans before we arrived, by midnight we were hoarse from talking (and not dancing at all) and we slumped exhausted onto our hotel bed 200 hundred metres away. At the first hint of dawn we were woken by those two girls leaping on to our dead bodies and demanding I tell them more of the stories about the creature I had spontaneously invented for them the day before, so all hint of romance was out the door.
Yet all these years later, romance is alive and it binds us, despite a tough life in which we’ve faced more than our share of dramatic moments and complexity of drastic problems. We celebrated at a renowned gastro pub and laughed that we had just enough to pay for the most expensive meal we’ve ever consumed. The next day was spent with dear friends walking around charmed gardens surrounding a secluded Elizabethan manor and those convivial hours replenished my soul after two sick years of hardly speaking to anyone. How fortunate to have met this wonder-woman with whom I am about to take breakfast.