published Sunday, April 10th, 2011

Chattanoogans anticipate Prince William’s marriage to Kate Middleton

Royal wedding-themed china have been popular items at the English Rose Tea Room in downtown Chattanooga, according to owner Angela Becksvoort.
Staff photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press
Royal wedding-themed china have been popular items at the English Rose Tea Room in downtown Chattanooga, according to owner Angela Becksvoort. Staff photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press

Angela Becksvoort had to make plans for the wedding day.

Not her wedding, or that of a family member or close friend, but the April 29 wedding of the future king of England, Prince William, to Kate Middleton.

Becksvoort, the owner of the English Rose Tea Room on Market Street, said she debated closing for the day but instead decided to create a special dessert in honor of the wedding. It’s a version of the nontraditional groom’s cake that is, reportedly, a favorite of both William and Queen Elizabeth II.

“We’ve gotten an awful lot of questions about it: What are we doing? Are we excited?” Becksvoort said.

She said the tea room has been selling lots of royal wedding memorabilia china, which pictures the couple, along with the wedding date and their names, William and Catherine, as the palace prefers to address Middleton.

The pair have been followed since their days at the University of St. Andrews. Middleton was once dubbed “Waity Katie” by the British press in reference to her patience during an eight-year courtship with the prince, which culminated on Nov. 16 with the announcement of their engagement.

“I think you’ll find every Brit will be watching it all the way through,” Becksvoort said of the upcoming wedding. “I love the pomp and ceremony of it all.”

Sam Parfitt, a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga tennis player who moved here from Norfolk, England, said he would be setting his alarm early on April 29.

“I’ll be watching it, just to feel like I’m at home a little bit, because I’m sure I’d be watching if I was there,” he said. “It’s one of those big events. You don’t see it too often that the future King of England is getting married.”

The details of the ceremony are of little interest, he said.

“I couldn’t care less about a cake or a dress or a ring,” he said. “That might be a guy thing. A lot of people have been asking me about the wedding and I’m like, ‘Which wedding?’”

Donna Killian wrote in an email that she thinks it would be fun to host a royal wedding viewing party, including mock invitations, traditional English foods and wedding cake (fruit cake in England) for dessert.

“As guests arrive, you could greet them with a celebratory mimosa to toast the royal couple,” she said.

Becksvoort said she believes many people are fond of William. Middleton’s nonroyal blood has also made her a bit of a fairy-tale princess-to-be. Parfitt said her commoner background is a sign that the monarchy is “moving in the right direction.”

For some, however, the wedding seems nothing more than a royal pain.

Lynn Dockery Roberts posted on the Times Free Press Facebook page: “No I’m not excited, I’m disgusted.” She said the wedding is an inconsequential diversion from the world’s pressing problems.

Alice Turner, of Chattanooga, said she remembers cutting out magazine pictures when Prince Charles married the late Lady Diana Spencer in 1981.

“My mom said, ‘If they mentioned Diana on the news, we had to shut up and turn the volume up, because you were going to listen to every bit of it.’ That was the big Disney thing back then. Everybody was going to go be a princess,” Turner said.

This time around, however, Turner is less excited.

“I look at this wedding and I think, ‘Here’s to ya, hope it turns out better than anybody else’s,’” she wrote in an email. “I think that there is a direct correlation between my excitement for Diana’s wedding, then watching it all go down the tubes and my complete apathy over this wedding.”

Parfitt said he sympathizes to an extent.

“America has the Constitution and Britain has the Royal Family. It’s our thing we get excited about it. Some people don’t,” he said.

Royal Wedding
about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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