Prince William and his fiancée Kate Middleton have dominated news cycles for weeks as their wedding day approaches. The coverage recalled in my mind the events of five years ago, when my own daughter was married.
I remember I had just received my royalty payment for some recent work when my good wife snatched it out of my hand, pronouncing “that will go for the wedding.” The wedding, slated for the impressive U.S. Naval Academy chapel in Annapolis, was the biggest event for our family in decades.
The first I’d heard of our daughter’s intended was during the terrible ordeal of Terri Schiavo, the year before. I’d never met the young man she spoke of, but she related his reaction to the unfolding tragedy: “Shouldn’t a husband lay down his life for his wife?” When this young man asked me for our daughter’s hand several months later, I readily said yes. Who wouldn’t?
Once we had settled on the chapel—and the stately ceremonial surroundings—a thousand details had to be handled. Only one involved me. It would be my great honor to escort our daughter down the center aisle on the great day. But, as a meningitis survivor, I had to cope with a tendency to well-up on all emotional occasions. If I wept, our daughter and my wife would not be able keep a stiff upper lip. Tears would streak makeup and wedding photos would be ruined.
Just two weeks before the day of the royalty wedding, we heard our chaplain describe Admiral James Stockdale’s story of captivity in Hanoi. When his captors came to kill him, he said, he thought only of the stained glass window above the altar. He had worshiped at that same chapel for four years as a midshipman. A twelve foot high figure of Jesus walking on the water graces the academy chapel. “That’s it,” I told our daughter, “we’ll focus on that figure of Jesus and we won’t cry.”
It worked. We kept our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,
(Hebrews 12:2) and He stilled the waters once again, a minor miracle for our family. I got through the only part of the ceremony that could tax a father of the bride dry-eyed and proud.
Five years later, a picture on their fridge recalls the glorious day. Our beloved daughter smiles radiantly at the window of the Rolls Royce limo – driven for the occasion by a generous family friend. Her handsome prince looks out with a serious expression, as if conscious of the great responsibilities he and his bride have just assumed in that 22-minute ceremony, the overture to a drama meant to last forever. They vowed to love and honor each other, but to submit themselves to God first.
We spent Easter weekend with our loved ones and a scampering two-year old. Their palace is a third-floor walk-up. It is a home where the Lord is honored, where children are welcomed as His heritage, and where the door of hospitality stands open. If Kate and William are so blessed, they will be richly crowned indeed.
Robert Morrison is senior fellow with the Family Research Council.