Thirty years ago the world was watching the fairy tale wedding of Prince Charles and the Lady Diana Spencer. 600.000 people filled the streets of London to get a glimpse of the happy couple and all the pomp and circumstance surrounding their big day,
The couple were married at St Paul's Cathedral before an invited congregation of 3,500 and an estimated global TV audience of 750 million - making it the most popular programme ever broadcast at the time.
A send-off into a fairy tale life to end all fairy tales, the watchers thought. Nobody foresaw the storm clouds gathering quite so quickly or the catastrophic shipwreck ahead.
Britons enjoyed a national holiday to mark the occasion, that is, most Britons did, but there were many people working on the day to keep essential services going. Then there were those whose services were only of importance to the organisers of the wedding itself, an army of helpers, official and unofficial, among them the musicians. Court jesters have come and gone, there are no jugglers, tumblers, players any longer, but there must be musicians.
Prince Charles was Patron of the Orchestra of The Royal Opera House. Beloved had played for him and the Royal Family many times before then, so playing at St. Paul's Cathedral was no big deal, even though this was a proper State occasion. For a seasoned professional any gig is just that, a gig. Or so they would like to make you believe.
The musicians entered the Cathedral by the tradesmen's entrance, in this case by the North Crypt doors and had to be at their station in a side chapel before the proceedings began.
They were playing a full programme of music long before the ceremony started at 11 o'clock, throughout the many processions, from the Ecclesiastical Procession, via the Procession of Foreign Crowned Heads, The Queen's Procession,
The Procession of the Bridegroom, and the Procession of the Bride.
Beloved saw little of the processions and nothing of the actual marriage service. All he has are the
official programmes, the Order of Service for the Ceremony itself, and the Ceremonial from the moment the Street Liners were in place (these are officials, NOT the populace), and the carriages began to leave Buckingham Palace, to the moment the carriages returned. The Ceremonial runs to 32 pages and ends with the Bride and Bridegroom leaving the Grand Entrance in a semi-State Landau, accompanied by a Travelling Escort of the Household Cavalry, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Andrew Parker Bowles, ( we all know what happened to him), Blues and Royals. at 4.00 p.m. (here the programme allows itself the first sign of a slip) "approximately".
What he did see was Kiri Te Kanawa (now 'Dame') in 'that' outfit, singing "Let The Bright Seraphim" from Haendel's "Samson". The Band thought she did well but also generally accepted that she could have chosen a less unfortunate outfit.
Just in case anyone thinks this must have been a profitable gig for the musicians, they are wrong. Prince Charles decided that all future royalties on the music, every penny coming from film, TV, CDs, and all other Rights worldwide, in perpetuity, should go to a Charity of his choosing.
He didn't even ask them.
We met him (and Diana) at a Royal Garden Party years later, neither Beloved nor I remembered to complain.