Like millions of people around the world, I watched the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle (now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex).
This is the third wedding I have attended in my pyjamas! Yes, my daughter and I started watching it live in Canada at the ungodly hour of 2:30 a.m. We did the same when Prince Charles and Princess Diana got married and then Prince William and Kate Middleton (now the Duchess of Cambridge.)
Prior to that, I lived in England so could watch royal weddings live at a respectable hour! But having English blood pumping through my veins, I have never lost my love of the monarchy and the mystique surrounding it all. I am not ashamed to say that I absolutely wallow in all the royal traditions and history.
Once again, this wedding was well worth waking up early or staying up late for. To begin with, it was good to watch something happy for a change instead of the bad news we are bombarded with daily.
This royal wedding was a positive event, and anyone with an ounce of optimism must have seen the hope for a better world through the eyes of this young couple so obviously in love.
After all, Harry and Meghan have really achieved what at one time would have been the impossible. A prince marrying an African American, divorced woman, and an actress to boot! What would Queen Victoria have thought of that? I’m sure she would not have been amused.
But these two young lovers have brought the monarchy well and truly into the 21st century. Their wedding, executed in their own special way, was a mixture of simplicity and splendor.
We won't quickly forget the wonderful touch of humor provided by the black pastor, the Reverend Michael Curry, who delivered a somewhat lengthy, but very passionate sermon, raising a few royal eyebrows. Or the eternally beautiful “Stand by Me” provided by Karen Gibson and the Kingdom Choir, which sent shivers down many a spine.
The wedding location was also ideal: Windsor Castle.
The castle, built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, has been home to 39 monarchs. Queen Elizabeth II spends her weekends there and has declared it to be her "favorite home."
I have fond memories of many visits to Windsor Castle when I was growing up in England. At that time, there weren't long lines and thousands of tourists everywhere.
Later visits on trips back to England were disappointing because of the crowds and all the strict security—so much a sign of the times these days. Nonetheless, I still love the quaintness of the town of Windsor and the magic of the castle where guards shout “Who Goes There?” and you are warned to stay back or else!
My family and friends in England were smart enough to watch the wedding on television rather than standing for hours in the hot sunshine in Windsor for a mere glimpse of the royals and other celebrities. I think I would have agreed if I were still living in England.
For me, this wedding brought hope for a brighter tomorrow amid all the horror in the world today. I believe Harry and Meghan will do a great deal of good throughout the world—and if I’m wrong I will eat my fascinator (that’s a hat, by the way!).
Did you stay up (or get up early) to watch the royal wedding? Were you as glued to it all as I was? Please leave a comment below.
It isn't a surprise that in the 19th century, health standards were much lower than they are today. Life expectancy in 1850 was only 40 years old.
People rarely went to the hospital, and very few home remedies really worked. Laudanum (a tincture of opium) was used for severe pain, but other drugs such as aspirin did not appear on the market until 1899.
Surgical procedures were often performed in the home under less-than-hygienic conditions. A strong shot of whisky or a rag wrapped in ether were used as anesthetics. Later, chloroform became the anesthetic of choice.
From advertisements in local newspapers, I discovered a few so-called “cures” offered by medicine men who roamed the streets in the Victorian era selling their wares to the unsuspecting:
Since the earliest days of the Fort in Victoria, BC, a plethora of these medicine men drifted in and out of town, advertising themselves as doctors but having little or no medical skill. Most were soon found to be imposters, earning them the title of “quack.”
By contrast, the professional doctor was a much-respected man, despite having few genuine cures at his disposal. He would make home calls only if someone was very sick. Most people could not afford medical attention, and if a doctor was called out, he knew that he would probably not be paid. As a result, many people turned to those “medicine men” who roamed the streets selling their wares and offering cures for “all that ails you—from hangnails to falling hair.”
Well-established doctors in Victoria such as Dr. John Helmcken were incensed by these imposters and the “quackery” they practiced.
By the time the 19th century drew to a close, a group of established Victoria physicians (Helmcken, Fraser, Hannington, Holden, Carter, Milne, Robertson and Hall) had formed a medical association to finally regulate the profession and give it the respect it deserved.
But many people still died far too young.
Women frequently died in childbirth, and people continued to expire from such simple ailments as the common cold turning to pneumonia, infections, or malnutrition over a long period.
Coroners’ reports written between 1865 and 1937 reveal many other strange causes of death, such as “poisoning while in a state of insanity” or “shooting while temporarily insane.”
I also discovered that two men in 1872 died after eating poisonous mushrooms, and two others lost their lives to a knife cut and a gunshot wound, respectively. Many committed suicide or were listed as having died from shock.
One person was attacked by bears in 1873, and another died from a rock falling on him! The following year, one man “took an overdose of a drug used for sun stroke”—perhaps sold to him by one of Victoria’s street medicine men.
Railway workers’ deaths were also numerous, especially among the Chinese population, and many inquests were held after such tragedies as the explosion on board the steamship Queen of the Pacific in 1886, the Point Ellice Bridge collapse in 1896, and the collision between freight and passenger trains on the BC Electric Railway in 1909.
So, even though we might complain about today’s medical plans, if you live in Canada and become sick, aren’t you glad you live in the 21st century?
What do you think? Please leave a comment below.