My fave royal wedding

I am not a royal gusher but when I see things about royal families, I do get a look in when I feel I like them. I therefore am quite aware of who the main Dutch royals are, I know a bit who the main Danish royals are (I quite like their Australian-born crown princess) and I think just about everyone knows who the British royals are. While I do quite like prince William, his wife Kate doesn’t do much for me (never has, even when they got married). In recent years, I thought Harry was turning out quite nicely too. And then he got engaged to Meghan Markle, of tv-show Suits fame. I really like Suits and I really like Meghan too and I admit that I was very much taken by the idea of them as a couple! And today (well, yesterday, as it’s after midnight here), they got married in what I think may be my fave royal wedding to date.

It started special when there was Idris Elba and Oprah Winfrey and George & Amal Clooney walking up to the chapel in Windsor Castle.

I wouldn’t call myself a George Clooney fan, although I do like him, but he sure as hell looked extremely gorgeous in grey (colouring nicely with his hair) in the spring sunshine!clooneys3

I got the greatest kick out of seeing the Suits actors walk to the church. There was gorgeous Gabriel Macht (Harvey Specter on the show) and his lovely wife Jacinda Barrett…

… and Patrick J. Adams (who plays Michael Ross, the man Meghan Markle married on the show!) with his wife Troian Bellisario…

Back in November, when Meghan and Harry had gotten engaged he had tweeted…2017-11-27-Patrick J Adams op Twitter_ _She said she was just going out to get some milk...

… and this morning he followed on from that joke with this Instagram post…

2018-05-19 22_03_22-Patrick Adams on Instagram_ “I_m beginning to think she might not actually be ou

Also Sarah Rafferty (Donna Paulsen on Suits) was there with her husband Santtu Säppäla…

And Gina Torres (who plays Jessica Pearson) and Rick Hoffman (who plays Louis Litt) also came…

There were more illustrious guests (like Serena Williams and Elton John) but I don’t want to go on about guests, I want to show pictures from the wedding!

Harry arrived with his brother William, who was best man…

… and then bride Meghan, driving with her mother Doria Ragland beside her, appeared…

In the church, the two princes were waiting for the bride…wed3 asile0

Doria went into the church alone, and, already fighting the tears, Harry caught her eye…

It must have been quite something special for her to see her daughter get married in such a unique way, she looked very touched throughout the service.

Outside Meghan arrived, accompanied by two page boys who carried her veil…

I kinda loved that she walked down the aisle on her own, as an independent woman of the world.wed3 asile1For the last part of her walk, she was met by Prince Charles (standing in for Meghan’s father who was ill and couldn’t be there), who welcomed her into the family rather than ‘gave her away’. When she got to Harry, you could lip-read Harry saying “Thank you, Pa” to his dad. Awww.

And just after the couple greeted each other at the altar you could also lip-read Harry saying to Meghan “You look amazing”. 🙂

They found each other’s hands and held hands for most to the ceremony, which I found sweet and I don’t think I ever saw other royal couples do so extensively.

Harry uncovered Meghan’s face (another awww!) and they went right on holding hands during the ceremony.

And then maybe the best part of the ceremony came, when Episcopalian bishop Michael Curry delivered his lively sermon about love.Bishop Michael Curry3That man is a good speaker and certainly woke people up, made them sit up and made people smile. Not only the royal couple…

… but many guests looked surprised and bemused…

The best reaction has got to be from Zara Tindall (daughter of Princess Anne, Charles’ sister), who was trying to process what was hitting her…react zara

I think that may have been the moment I said to Mr Esther “best royal wedding ever!” After that wonderful, enlivening sermon came a wonderful gospel choir singing “Stand By Me”, which was stunning…gospel choir2

Harry and Meghan listened from afar…wed7-seated01

And then finally the vows were exchanged (and I wiped away a few tears).

Again, lovely. The way these two look at each other, it’s pretty clear how they feel about each other! After the vows they went out for a few minutes to sign the register. They were followed by Prince Charles who so graciously invited Doria to come with him. One of the highlights for me really was how Charles looked after Doria, who was the only member of Meghan’s family present.doria charles

He was also sweet to Doria after the service, walking with her and talking with her, including her in everything and lending her his arm. I found that very touching.

Back to the wedding service: after the signing, the national anthem was sung and the couple left the church…

They exited the church…

… looked at each other…

… and kissed…

Pictures from another angle…

Ah, the romance! The walked down the steps to an awaiting carriage…

… and then came the carriage ride through Windsor…

Apparently there was also a kiss in the carriage. I didn’t see it on TV, but it was there in the pictures..wed11-carriage (8)

I also found this image somehow very beautiful and endearing…wed11-carriage (13)

The wedding was festive and there was pomp and circumstance, but it also was personal, mixing the traditional more reserved English world of Harry beautifully with the more emotionally demonstrative American world of Meghan. It was about a woman standing on her own, openly embracing a future with a prince, it was about embracing difference and celebrating it. And it didn’t hurt that I found Meghan’s dress absolutely gorgeous and the couple was beautiful to look at.

The rest of the festivities were outside the public eye, except for a moment this evening when the couple left Windsor to go to Prince Charles’s residence at Frogmore house for the evening party. Meghan had changed into another dress, Harry had changed into a tux and they were off in a cute little blue Jaguar sports car…

I don’t often go gaga over royal events. I do usually enjoy them and like looking at the pictures but then easily move on. This wedding, however, somehow touched me more than other weddings have and yes, it even made me actively actually gather all these pictures throughout the day! In a world so hateful and cynical Harry and Meghan today radiated an image of love and inclusion and change. I hope they can continue to do this and wish them all happiness and the best for the future!

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Jerusalem

I can barely contain my anger over the idiot Trump move to open a US embassy in Jerusalem, and on the eve of Israeli independence too, which Palestinians call the ‘Nakba‘, a time when many Palestinians were displaced in 1948. There goes any remnant of hope for peace in Israel-Palestine… My thoughts are very much there today and in my birth-city of Jerusalem…

Because I am thinking of Jerusalem so much, several songs called ‘Jerusalem’ keep popping up in my head. Most of all the song ‘Jerusalem’ by Sinead O’Connor is playing in my mind… I so can relate to the intensity in this…

Or ‘Jerusalem’ by Dutch singer Anouk…

Or the (not brilliant but catchy) German entry for the Eurovision Song Contest back in 1999 called ‘Reise nach Jerusalem’ (‘Journey to Jerusalem’), sung in German and Turkish, with a little English thrown in and at the very end Hebrew (they came in 3rd that year)…

Or the song ‘Crusader’ by Chris de Burgh, which is a very iffy, one-sided heroic view of the Christians as heroes during the crusades of the Middle Ages. Despite that, I do love the musicality of this song and the repeated line “Jersualem is lost” feels very fitting…

And there’s the Jerusalem song I remember best from my childhood, called Yerushalayim shel Zahav (Jerusalem of Gold)…

Despite the unholy alliance between Trump and Israeli prime minister Netanyahu, I still try to cling to hope for peace for Jerusalem and the region, even though a peaceful two-state solution feels very very far away right now…

Jerusalem 2008

Will there ever be true peace one day in Jerusalem?

It’s serious

In all my 48 years on this earth I have not felt so scared for the future as I have felt in the past year and a half after Brexit was voted for and after the US elected an idiot president. In my lifetime I never liked any Republican US president, not Reagan, not the older George Bush and I thought it could not be worse than George W. Bush but I was wrong. I was not a fan of their politics, just like I’m not a big fan of our current Dutch prime minister, but with them I never quite felt like the world was going to end. I do sometimes feel that now with the man who has got to be the most idiotic and dangerous Western leader since Adolf Hitler: Donald Trump! News of the idiot reneging the Iran nuclear deal and telling lies about it as justification is the latest example of his idiocy.

It’s not just Donald Trump and his “me me me” nationalist right-wing racist and misogynist philosophy that scares me. It’s also this whole right-wing nationalist trend, dipped in racism, which is so prevalent in Europe right now that is so damned scary. Donald Trump is alienating the world and when Europe needs unity more than ever to face it, we have Brexit happening and elections in Austria last year and recently in Hungary where nationalist right-wing leaders win (yet again and seem to get more extreme). In the past 70 odd years there never was any danger of war for our small nation alone. We are part of a bigger European Union and the big USA was our friend. Together we could handle it all, but USA doesn’t feel so friendly anymore and the EU is showing cracks. Is it the beginning of the end? There’s a move towards ‘everyone for himself’ and excluding others and for me the end of that move is only darkness, devastation and possibly war…

In 1997 mandatory military service was abolished in The Netherlands. Even before that, it was easy to avoid conscription for even minor health, psychological or conscientious reasons, because there really was no need for a big Dutch army in a unified Europe standing together. Mr Esther never had to serve because of his asthma, my older brother never had to serve because of a minor foot problem he had, my younger brother never had to serve because of a back ailment… I think my other two brothers weren’t even called because they were living abroad and still are. If they were called, there certainly was no difficulty in not having to go into the Dutch military.

My son is turning 17 in two months time and the other week a letter for him arrived from the Dutch Ministry of Defence…

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What the letter says is that, as he is turning 17 this year, he is automatically registered for military service. He doesn’t have to serve, as there is no conscription anymore, but he is registered.  Every Dutch man between the ages of 17 and 35 is registered and should there be a need in the future, he can possibly be conscripted and called upon to serve in the military after all. He could possibly have to serve up until the age of 45.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in defending yourself when faced with evil and I do commend military people who put themselves in harm’s way for peacekeeping missions, as the Dutch military does now. The idea is noble, although I feel that war and violence never is the real answer.

I always hoped we had learned from the second World War and that at least within Europe and the US we would never have to fear such evil self-serving idiot racist leaders anymore. Democracy would put a stop to the most extreme ideas and extreme leaders, I thought. Isolationism and “me me me” power struggles were over, now that there is cooperation in Europe and with the US, I thought. Racism after Auschwitz is only a fringe idea now, I thought. I guess I was wrong. Even when ‘justified’, in my heart I do not believe in war. In the end there is only death and destruction and lives torn apart.

If my son had received this letter from the Ministry of Defence 10 years ago, or maybe even two years ago, I would just have acknowledged it and laid it aside. But when I see what the Western world I live in is becoming now, for the first time I really am worried. A lot has happened in two years and even more can happen in the next 18 – 28 years! Yes, my son won’t have to go into the army now, but what will the state of our world be in 5 or 10 years time? What if we are slowly sliding into a World War III? What if my son does have to go to war one day? I don’t even dare think of that scenario… I don’t want my son or anyone else in the generations after him to have to experience war… I always hope that mankind will learn its lesson but with all the wars and devastation already in the world now and with these scary trends now in Europe and the US, I feel that any lessons that may have been ‘learned’ are so easily forgotten. I want my son to live in peace, I want all of us to live in peace!

My son is not in the least bit worried, not yet in any case…

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… but I am…

Happy International Women’s Day

To celebrate, here’s a video I came across today. It was made a year ago but feels quite topical in light of the whole Time’s Up movement right now…

It’s not only Women’s Day today, by the way. Today is also the 47th birthday of my fave feminist in the world: my husband! I know he very much agrees with Alan Rickman here…

Alan Rickman feminist

I’m off to celebrate! 🙂

Ch… ch… ch… ch… Changes!

The other day David Bowie’s widow Iman tweeted this image below…

David Bowie these children that you spit on

It’s a quote from Changes, which is one of my favourite Bowie songs. It was written in 1971 for a different generation, the baby boomers, who were part of a whole lot of change. That particular quote has also been used for the youth of another generation, the Gen X’ers like me, in the excellent 1985 movie The Breakfast Club (see the end of the title sequence, at about 1.45 mins into this clip)…

and now it is getting linked to another new generation, the late millenials, the young students protesting for change to gun laws in the US right now. To me it’s a perfect theme song for demanding such change! David Bowie’s words live on…

Here’s the whole song; always worth a full listen in my book!

I love what these young people are doing and sincerely hope their voices will indeed finally lead to change! I may be a liberal, stupid European who doesn’t truly understand Americans and American culture, but I’ve gotta say, I’m totally with Stephen Colbert on this one…

… and with Trevor Noah…

From where I’m standing, ch… ch… ch… ch… changes would be an excellent thing!