The world is watching Westminster Abbey, but it isn’t only a special day for William and Kate. RACHEL JONES meets people celebrating their wedding anniversaries on royal wedding day.
Christine and Tyrrell
Everyone wants to know who has designed Kate Middleton’s wedding dress and, more importantly, what it looks like.
We can be certain of one thing. The gown has cost a fair few pounds, unlike the wedding dress of Christine Musselwhite from Portsmouth.
‘Mine cost £1.50, it was in a closing down sale,’ laughs Christine, who tied the knot 39 years ago today.
But a costly dress isn’t required for a happy marriage. Christine and husband Tyrrell have been together ever since and have taken a holiday in Weston-Super-Mare to celebrate their anniversary.
They planned to arrive early today so they could watch the processions and William and Kate’s ceremony and join in the celebrations at their hotel.
And like most women, Christine is sure to have her eyes on the dress as Kate steps from her wedding car.
There won’t be any comparisons, though. Christine still has her dress which is very special to her, and she remembers her delight at snapping it up for a bargain price.
‘It was in the window of a shop in North End. There was one for £11 as well but that didn’t fit. The cheaper one did and I really liked it so it was perfect for me really.’
Of course this was the early 70s and weddings in those days were economical affairs (Princess Anne’s being an exception).
But they were no less fun. Christine and Tyrrell, who live in Fratton, invited about 100 people to their wedding at St Mark’s Church in North End and reception.
Friends and neighbours made the food and the family supplied the drink. Christine says it was a wonderful day. And she tops the royal bride in one aspect – she had seven bridesmaids to Kate’s five (although there are also pageboys at the royal wedding).
Christine, 57, and Tyrrell, 61, now have two children and three grandchildren. The couple are pleased to share a wedding date with Kate and William.
‘It’s quite exciting really,’ says Christine. ‘When people have mentioned it I’ve said ‘my invite’s on the way.’
Diane and Ted
‘You can have a happy marriage without all the trimmings on your wedding day,’ says Diane Carpenter.
And she should know as she and husband Ted are celebrating their 39th wedding anniversary today.
‘We couldn’t afford much. We had £30 and that paid for a special licence, my outfit and a wedding reception for immediate family,’ says Diane.
And they didn’t have long to plan the occasion. Ted and Diane’s engagement was even shorter than Kate and William’s.
‘He said what about next week and I said ‘couldn’t I have a bit longer, I’ve got nothing to wear,’ laughs Diane.
Ted was 39 and Diane 28 when they were married at a register office in Southampton. The ceremony was followed by a very small reception at a hotel.
‘It was pouring with rain and blowing a gale,’ laughs Diane. ‘And we didn’t have a cake, we couldn’t afford one.’ But it was a special day with plenty of personal touches. A friend took the photographs and the best man’s sports car became the wedding transport.
The couple, who live in Fareham and have one son, are being a little more lavish with their anniversary celebration.
On Sunday, they’ll be flying to Florida. But today they intend to relax, have a nice meal and watch the royal wedding.
‘I’m keen to see her dress but I probably won’t sit glued to the television all day,’ says Diane. ‘I hope it’s lovely for them. I’d wish anyone getting married a wonderful day, with nobody trying to spoil it.’
Ernest and Gladys
While most people would love to congratulate William and Kate, Ernest and Gladys Barnes have received some very special greetings of their own – from the royal couple!
A letter from St James’s Palace says William and Kate send ‘congratulations to Mr Ernest Barnes on his 98th birthday and to both he and his wife Gladys on their 72nd wedding anniversary’.
The letter arrived after staff at Langdale Nursing Home in Gosport wrote to the palace, sending best wishes from the residents and mentioning that Ernest’s birthday and the couple’s anniversary is today.
It’s a date that also has special meaning for football fans. Ernest and Gladys were married in Southsea on the day Pompey won the FA Cup Final in 1939.
‘It was in that romantic era and my dad had the idea that it would be nice to get married on his birthday,’ says their 71-year-old son Conrad. ‘You can take romance so far, but that’s ridiculous, missing the final. Pompey weren’t favourites to win, so maybe that’s why.’
The date caused a few problems for the nuptials. Ernest’s best man decided to go to the match instead and a replacement had to be found. Another friend came to the rescue and proved himself the best man, although by all accounts Ernest quite understood his original choice’s decision.
Those who were at the wedding listened to the match on the radio at the reception.
‘I don’t know much about the day but I know a waitress dropped a load of drinks when Pompey scored their fourth goal,’ says Conrad.
Ernest and Gladys went on to have their two sons – Conrad and 69-year-old Trevor. They have two grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Ernest now lives at Langdale and Gladys, 97, is at nearby Elizabeth Lodge which specialises in dementia care. Both homes will be having royal wedding celebrations and Ernest and Gladys will see each other on the day.
Lyn and Brian
It isn’t clear why Prince William and Kate Middleton chose April 29, although some have noted it’s also the date of the Feast of St Catherine of Siena.
Others, including Lyn and Brian Colenutt of Portchester, chose that date for less symbolic reasons.
‘He went through the fixtures and made sure Pompey were playing away and not at home,’ laughs Lyn, who married Brian on April 29, 1978.
If the team had been at Fratton Park, Brian would have been there as he’s one of Pompey’s biggest fans. And that’s something Lyn has had to get used to during 33 years of marriage.
‘Our first date was at Fratton Park and after our wedding we went home to watch Match of the Day. He even had a blue rose button hole and I’m sure it would have been a blue colour scheme if he’d had his way,’ she says. ‘It mapped out my life and what it was going to be like. I suppose it was better to know early on.’
Lyn isn’t even a football fan but the couple must have something – they have been happily married for 33 years and have two sons and one grandaughter.
Lyn has wonderful memories of their ceremony, which took place at St Francis Church, Leigh Park, and reception – a sit down meal for family and friends. She wore a gown with bell sleeves, a v-neck and pearl buttons and a short veil with a tiara.
Brian remembers the score – ‘They played Exeter and won 1-0,’ he says.
Also celebrating their wedding anniversaries today
Mike and Pat Apperley, of Old Manor Way, Cosham - 50th anniversary
Sylvia and Clive Dennis, of Oaklea Close, Widley - 33rd anniversary
Malcolm and Margaret Hewett, of Alton Grove, Portchester - 45th anniversary
Nigel and Jane Dickson, of Frogmore Lane, Lovedean - 24th anniversary
Jim and Ros Molloy, of Queens Road, Waterlooville - 44th anniversary
Jim and Julie Gray, of Highbury Grove, Cosham - sixth anniversary
Mark and Sue Hanns, of Kingsley Road, Eastney - 22nd anniversary
Enrico and Helen Ray, London Road, Horndean - fifth anniversary
Kim and Darren Lea, Down End Road, Drayton - 16th anniversary
Barry and Sue McKee, Hazel Road, Waterlooville - 39th anniversary
Paul and Debbie Anscomb, of Portsmouth Road, Cosham - 22nd anniversary