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Hawaii: Their cup of tea

As Prince William and Kate Middleton enter into matrimony, isle viewing parties share in the joy

By Steven Mark

LAST UPDATED: 2:20 p.m. HST, Apr 27, 2011

It's happening 7,200 miles, 10 time zones and 20 hours of jet travel away, but the wedding of His Royal Highness Prince William and Kate Middleton is lifting the spirits of many Oahu residents with British roots.

In return, they'll be lifting champagne flutes, raising teacups and hoisting pints in celebration.

The British Commonwealth Club of Hawaii, an informal group of expatriates and others Anglophiles, is holding a viewing party at a private home Friday evening, a day after the actual nuptials, taking advantage of a videotape delay to enjoy a traditional English dinner at the same time.


It’s Royal Wedding Week in the Today section of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Tomorrow, read staff writer Mike Gordon’s account of Hawaii’s last grand royal wedding.
For additional coverage, see the special Royal Wedding section.

"We're going to have prime rib and Yorkshire puddings — in America they're called popovers — and the accompanying vegetables, including Brussels sprouts, which is something that is very, very British and not beloved by everyone," said club president Susan Hayter, a Realtor who was born in England but moved here as a teen.

(All major networks are planning live coverage of the royal wedding, with NBC and ABC coverage starting at 10 p.m. Hawaii time. The ceremony at Westminster Abbey will take place around midnight.)

The wedding "has touched our hearts," said Hayter. "I think everyone's excited about the royal wedding, and I think we all hope it's going to be a wonderful success."

Ah, yes, the hope for success. Perhaps at one time those "best wishes" would have been only a formality, but after the drama surrounding the marriage of Prince William's parents, they're being offered with truly heartfelt emotion this time around.

"We remember so much of Diana and Charles' wedding, and so we have a lot of hopes around this one," said Wyn Aubrey-Child, a retired social worker.

Club members eagerly list the reasons why they expect William and Kate to thrive. The couple dated awhile, split up to date others, then got back together, which Hayter called a "very healthy thing."

"I think (William) has been very thoughtful because he has allowed her to very slowly get into the way of life that she will have to live now," said Aubrey-Child.

She also thinks that Middleton, a commoner, will bring "even fresher blood" to the royal family than Diana did. "We all know when there's too much intermarriage, the products aren't as bright they could be," she said.

Paul Jordan, a retired Kraft Foods executive who will be hosting the party in his Hawaii Kai apartment, thinks it's notable the couple got together of their own accord, rather than through family introductions. He also appreciates the fact that Middleton, who met William at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, will be "the first bride of a royal with a college degree."

His party is one of a few other celebrations being planned around the island. A Cup of Tea, a Victorian-style tearoom in Kailua, is hosting a wedding luncheon Friday afternoon, said proprietor Darlene Pahed.

"The ladies will be wearing their huge hats and gloves, as if they're actually going to the wedding … and we'll be flying the Union Jack," she said. The event sold out soon after it was publicized.

Brooke Wilson, who was born in England, is planning to have a few friends over to her Kailua home Thursday night to watch the wedding live.

"We'll have some Guinness and some pupus," she said. "I really liked Diana when I was growing up, and everybody my age, we all watched that funeral where the two boys walked behind the carriage. And now they're all grown up, and they seem like really awesome guys."

Wilson has deep families ties to England. Her father, David Wilson, co-founder of the local public relations company McNeil Wilson Communications, served in the Royal Navy and has warm feelings about the monarchy. He thinks the wedding will be a "good day for the country."

"It will be good to see the queen," he said. "She really is the mother of our country."

But he is not expecting to stay up to watch the wedding, not wanting to bother his mother-in-law by staying up well past midnight.

Not all local Britons are excited about the wedding. Michael Titterton, president of Hawaii Public Radio, called the wedding a "nice national morale booster" but otherwise is "ambivalent" about it. He has not requested any special radio programming for that day.

"I miss the pubs and the beer but not the royal family to any extent. We were never that close," he said with an unmistakably British chuckle.

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