Millions of people watched Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding on Saturday, but very few will ever know the pressure of being a bridesmaid at an event of this scale.
Below, India Hicks, the granddaughter of Lord Mountbatten, the goddaughter of Prince Charles, and one of Princess Diana’s bridesmaids, shares her thoughts on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s marriage, and what it was really like to stand by Diana’s side on her wedding day.
Hicks was asked to be a bridesmaid by her godfather, Prince Charles.
Even now, I’m always asked about the first time I met Diana. What was she like? Did she seem very young? How did I feel? The terrible truth is I just can’t remember. But what I do remember is the moment I was asked to be a bridesmaid. I was on holiday in the Bahamas when a call came through from the Prince of Wales, my godfather.
Charles was, and still is, a remarkable godfather—caring, considerate, and involved. I adored him then and still do now. When I was growing up, his birthday and Christmas presents were always well thought-out. One year, a gold and silver bracelet he had commissioned arrived that had my initials interlocking on it. Another year, a picnic blanket in the family tartan.
On the eve of the royal wedding, Hicks spent the night with Princess Margaret.
On the eve of the wedding, July 28, the guns of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery fired a salute in Hyde Park to mark the first marriage of a Prince of Wales for 118 years. This was followed by an unprecedented firework display. Half a million rejoicing people flocked to Hyde Park. My sister and I joined Sarah Armstrong-Jones and the rest of the Royal Family to watch the fireworks in the royal enclosure.
After this, it became apparent that, with the surging crowds and halted traffic, we were never going to make it back home for the night. Princess Margaret suggested I spend the night with her in Kensington Palace, as we were practically on the doorstep. I will never forget her appearing in her nightie, offering me the use of her toothbrush.
Princess Diana got ready for the wedding in jeans and a tiara.
Early the next morning at Clarence House, the London residence of the Queen Mother, we greeted a fresh-faced Diana, who was dressed in her jeans with a diamond tiara on top of her head.
Diana was amused to watch herself on a tiny television screen that had been found in the nursery; she would flick away anyone who got in the way. During a commercial break, the advert for Cornetto ice cream came on and she started singing. Soon we all joined in. ‘Just one Cornneeeettttoooo’ could be heard from the top floor.
I clearly remember the moment Diana appeared at the top of the staircase. Everyone fell silent. The bride was radiant and ready to become the most famous of princesses.
Hicks has kept a few mementos from her experience as a royal bridesmaid.
At the end of the day Diana gave us a kiss and a thank-you present—a pretty Halcyon Days china pot commemorating the day; inside were two silkworms that had spun the silk for her wedding dress.
A few weeks later, a rose from her bouquet arrived, set in Perspex to act as a paperweight, with a note of thanks in her schoolgirl writing. I also have my flower wreath from the wedding, carefully boxed in Perspex, as are both my bridesmaid dress and the one my mother wore when the Queen married Prince Philip.
Of course these are reminders of an incredible day and I wish for Meghan and Harry a wedding that feels as magnificent but also as intimate. It is not easy to live under the ruthless glare of the world’s photographers, I hope there is a balance that can be reached and they can navigate this new chapter together, they have each other and they have shown dedication to doing great good in the world.
The preserved flower wreath I wore as a bridesmaid to the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana sits among 18th century ornamental Chinese white jade dishes. They don’t smell quite as good now as they did on the day, but they do bring back some pretty fantastic memories. As does my father’s secret garden, which inspired my English Rose fragrance, a sexy smell which brings to mind warm rain, rose, and peony petals. If you possibly want to see or hear more, come and find me in Texas this week. Tomorrow, I will be giving a book talk and signing in Houston at Design in Bloom by @flowermagazine as a part of a panel presentation alongside @charmossny @gpschafer and @vanvlietandtrap and Wednesday I will be in Dallas at Nancy Perot’s @interabangbooks for a book signing from 10am-12pm.
Her family has a special connection to royal honeymoons.
Both the Queen and Prince Philip and Charles and Diana began their married life with their first honeymoon night spent at my grandfather’s home, Broadlands, in Hampshire. I talk about this historic estate in my new book, A Slice of England, along with other family stories of Broadlands, my parents’ homes; Britwell and the Grove, and America Farm, which we have just built. I hope what comes across in this book is the feeling of celebration and giving thanks, much like a happy wedding.
Shop Now A Slice of England, $34.25
From: Town & Country US
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