The Washington Post

The wedding watchers: A guide to TV’s royal wedding overload

By proclamation of the Royal Court of Television Watchers we now presume the following things: 1) You are a girl. Perhaps your driver’s license says you are 52 and/or a man. No matter. For our purposes, you are a satin-and-lace-loving girl. 2) For as long as you can remember, you’ve dreamed of marrying a real, live prince. 3) Deep down, you know it won’t happen.

Instead, you’ll have to live vicariously through the glut of royal wedding programming taking over your TV this week. Couric and Seacrest and skinny Giuliana what’s-her-face from E! will be on hand to provide up-to-the minute, here-comes-the dress commentary for Will and Kate’s Wedding of the Millennium, but the festivities begin long before any of Ms. Middleton’s six hairdressers reports for duty Friday. So let’s have a look at which of this week’s offerings are truly tiara-worthy.


BBC, Sunday, 1:30 p.m

Lest you fail to realize what’s at stake this week, host Katty Kay lays it out at the top: “Fervent royalists hope the wedding of William and Kate will begin a new, happier era for the house of Windsor, but it all depends on them doing it right.” And by “it” she means “host the perfect wedding.” The expert advice? Do: find a showstopping gown — “think modern but modest.” Don’t: invite ex-aunt Fergie. And if they mess anything up, Kay warns, “Britain’s famously unforgiving press will be ruthless.” Good luck, you two!

Tiara rating: ****


TLC, Sunday, 9 p.m.

India Hicks, second cousin to Prince Charles and preteen bridesmaid to Diana, had one major responsibility on July 29, 1981: take care of the train. Now, 30 years later, she returns to visit with one of Di’s dressmakers. “I think it’s a nightmare,” she says as they unroll a sheath of fabric to approximate the famed 25-foot dress. There’s not much to reveal here, except that Hicks wound up feverishly stuffing the monstrous train into the carriage, rather than folding it. But the show has a sweet, just-us-girls vibe.

Tiara rating: ***


Wedding Central, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

We should curtsey to the fine folks at Wedding Central — they’ve gone above and beyond, eliminating anything non-princess-related from their prime-time lineup and counting down the seconds until go-time on their Web site. And they know that to truly understand what’s about to happen, we first need to look back. “Charles & Diana’s Wedding” — which looks so dated it must have been resurrected from some royal vault — recounts the mania and magic of the 24 hours leading up to the event. Spectactors who’d camped out overnight and police officers who guarded the parade route offer sentimental recollections of the citywide love fest. More than any other, this show will fuel your anticipation for Friday’s wedding. Even if, as Diana told her makeup artist, “It’s a lot of fuss for one girl getting married, isn’t it?”

Tiara rating: *


BBC America, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

Which of the five Americans vying to be named the lands’s most “royally mad” will out-obsess the others and claim the show’s mystery prize? Who cares? These four gals and lone man treat the competition like a four-day London sleepover, chaperoned by a butler who wakes them with breakfast each morning and tops off their champagne glass in the afternoon. Sure, they’re interrupted on occasion for a royal trivia pop quiz, but then it’s back to touring the cathedrals and castles, trying on hats and sipping cocktails in clubs frequented by William and Harry. Mystery prize? If they’re lucky, they’ll get to take home the butler.

Tiara rating: ***


Wedding Central, Tuesday, 8 p.m.

Oh, Willy. It wasn’t enough being a prince. No, he had to go and be a polo-playing, rescue-mission-piloting heartthrob, didn’t he? At least the future king has kept the tabloids busy. Here, a cadre of royal correspondents — the juicier equivalent of the White House press corps — recap the romantic adventures of his young life with the panache of any Facebook-stalking, TeenVogue-reading gossip girl. Remember that year Will went to Africa and met the daughter of a rancher? And the time he stepped out on our “Waity Katie” to flirt with some barfly? For shame! But it was always Kate, wasn’t it? Still, that won’t stop the tabs from wagering on who’s the runner-up in his heart.

Tiara rating: ***


Wedding Central, various times

Now it’s our turn! Sort of. Watch — and prepare to cringe — as a rag-tag group of our own compete for the newly made-up honor of “American Princess.” The campy series, which originally debuted in 2005, inexplicably affords the winner a British title, a fancy ball in the mother country and, of course, a tiara. Etiquette lessons come elimination style, until only one young lady is left on the throne.

Tiara rating: ****


Wedding Central, Wednesday, 8 p.m.

“Have we finally found a new celebrity princess to take Diana’s place?” And moreover: do we like her? (The answer, this docudrama implies, is that we alternately idolize Middleton and fantasize about knocking her off in some devious manner that would drive poor, vulnerable Will into our waiting arms.) The show traces her ascent from middle-class school girl and sporty coed to trend-setting princess-elect. In gauzy reenactments, we witness her life with William at St. Andrews: She spoon-fed him pasta, he kept a framed portrait of the queen on his mantle. Whether you’re Team Kate or a hater, there’s an ally for everyone along the way.

Tiara rating: **


Wedding Central, Wednesday, 10 p.m.

According to the opening montage, here’s what you’ll need if you want to pack like a royal: a plaid tie, a flask and a toy sailboat. Necessities in hand, we’re ready to jet off to hot spots favored by the British royals. The Swiss Alps? A Scottish castle? We’d settle for a Caribbean island — the stylized shots of the private beaches and luxurious pools have us wishing for a trip to Eleuthera, in the Bahamas. The island was a Charles and Diana favorite. Their resort’s former caretaker recalls that Chaz liked to spend his nights on the dance floor: “He reminded me of John Travolta in ‘Grease’ . . . He’s really got some good moves on him.” Well done, old boy!

Tiara rating: **


BBC, Thursday, 7 p.m.

The BBC tagged along last year as William and Harry traveled to a Botswana sanctuary William had adopted as a favorite charity. From the back of a Jeep he earnestly explains his love of the animals and the sense of service he inherited from his mother. But it’s far more fun to watch him interact with his brother, who never misses an opportunity to give the future king a hard time. (When someone notes that they’re not twins, Harry pushes William’s head forward so a slight bald spot is exposed, proving their differences.)

Tiara rating: *


TLC, Wednesday, 8 p.m.

Know what’s more interesting than a prince on his wedding day? A prince who’s still on the market. Hellooooo, Harry! TLC kindly updates us on the whole of Harry’s existence, with footage of him as cutie-pie toddler, an impish school boy, a boozing bloke and a military man. The most affecting, though, are scenes of him holding infants with AIDS in an African village where he’s focused some of his humanitarian effort. Whatever else Harry might be, the show suggests he’s inherited his mother’s tender heart. Unexpectedly, you might find yourself actually rooting for his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Chelsy Davy. (Though he’s obviously only with her because he hasn’t met us yet, right?)

Tiara rating: **

Ellen McCarthy is a feature writer for Style. She is the author of "The Real Thing: Lessons on Love and Life from a Wedding Reporter's Notebook."



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