My almost royal wedding!

The wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton (William is my 3rd cousin) is fast approaching and I am reminded of the day, 31 years ago, when I almost became William’s aunt and Princess Diana’s sister-in-law –

Flash back to the night of July 27, 1981 – right before the wedding of William’s parents, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. I arrived at Buckingham Palace with my mother, H.R.H Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, to attend a ball in honor of the royal couple. I still remember my dress – It was a knee length, ruby-red taffeta dress, layered ruffles, with a bustier and gold and black swirls – Signature 80’s! Actually, the length was a point of contention, as my mother and I tugged down on the dress to ensure that my knees were covered – but then discovered, to our dismay, that the top became too risqué!

I had never seen such opulence in all my life – Buckingham Palace had been transformed into a royal fantasyland. We were handed a map upon arrival, presumably to prevent us from getting lost in the palatial labyrinth. There were 3 ballrooms, each playing a different style of music – jazz, classical and pop – so that every generation could shimmy to their preferred tempo. Most of the guests danced until the wee hours, and the buffet, which spanned the length of an entire stateroom, morphed from dinner into breakfast.

Every royal imaginable was in attendance. My mother had instructed me since i was little, that as the daughter of a princess, the protocol, according to my standing in the royal pecking order, was that I had only to curtsey to kings and queens – not to princes or princesses. The fewer the better! I hated curtseying and always felt as if I was going to lose my balance. The only royal I made sure to give a wide berth to was Princess Grace of Monaco – she had given me, Prince Andrew and her son, Prince Albert, a stern lecture earlier that night, at a pre-ball dinner held at Claridges’ Hotel, chastising us for our appalling manners – she had caught us throwing bread rolls at each other during dinner. Food fights were a bad habit amongst young members of the upper crust! I must admit that I had enlisted Prince Charles to throw giant Dublin prawns on another occasion!

Prince Charles is my mother’s 2nd cousin, and they maintain a close friendship. Just to give you an idea how convoluted royal lineages are – Charles’ great-grandfather, King George of Greece was my great-great grandfather. Queen Alexandra of England was my great-great-great aunt and Charles’ great-great grandmother. Charles’ father, Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh was my grandmother, H.R.H Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark’s 1st cousin, and, King George VI’s (Charles’ grandfather) younger brother Georgie, the Duke of Kent (both brothers had the same name – confusing?!) was married to my grandmother’s sister, Princess Marina – are you still with me?!! but I had never met Lady Diana before.

Charles took me by the hand and brought me over to meet her. She was standing alone, in the corner of the ‘pop’ ballroom – Duran Duran was blaring over the sound system– probably a first for that room! I will always remember the giant disco ball spinning drunkenly from the middle of the ceiling, in lieu of a chandelier. The strobe lights magnified the iridescent shimmer of her clingy, sequined gown. She was statuesque and I had never seen any royal dress with that kind of slinky style! Diana and I shook hands and exchanged pleasantries, but she seemed nervous and distracted. Her eyes betrayed something that surprised me – this was not the look of a princess convinced her future held a fairytale ending.

Later that evening, I stepped out onto the balcony – the famous balcony that we always see the Queen waving from – with Prince Andrew – I neglected to mention that Prince Andrew had been courting me, filling my hotel room at Claridges’ with boxes of dozens of bouquets of long stemmed roses.

It was a beautiful night, and from our vantage point, we could see the hundreds of thousands of jubilant well-wishers, celebrating this historic event. Andrew gently took my hand in his and gazed into my eyes.

Why hadn’t I anticipated this? I don’t know, but he caught me completely by surprise. And whenever I’m nervous, or caught off guard, I resort to giggling and/or glib humor. I flipped his hand over and started reading his palm. I told him he had long life, a good heart, and absolutely no brains whatsoever. He laughed whole-heartedly, and undeterred, he proceeded to propose to me.

“Would you be interested in marrying me or would you prefer to be an actress?”

Without hesitation, I said to him, “quite honestly Andrew, I’d really rather prefer to be an actress.”

I was 18 years old at the time, 3 months younger than Diana to the day. I had just graduated from high school and had decided to defer for a year from Harvard University to pursue acting and modeling in NYC.

Prince Andrew didn’t seem too distraught by my refusal, in fact, he seemed to sympathize, and we danced on into the early morning. He continued to correspond with me after that, once sending me a letter written on toilet paper while he was stationed in The Falkland Islands. I have been asked, “why toilet paper?” And I guess the answer might have to do with where he was inspired to write to me from! (joke!) I felt sorry for anyone who had to use that paper for that which it was intended for – It looked more like parchment paper and was probably better suited for writing than wiping anyways!

Exactly a year later, I was in NYC pursuing my dream. My 2nd audition happened to be for the role of Princess Diana in the CBS TV movie, “The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana”. The producers weren’t aware of my relationship to the British royal family, but my look was similar and I had a great British accent. As unskilled and relatively untrained as I was, I miraculously gave a great audition, and I remember the precise moment that the reading came alive. I could see out of the corner of my eye, the producer and the casting director looking at each other with the expression of “we’ve found her.” I got a call almost immediately after the audition telling me that I had the offer. It was my first acting role and I was ecstatic.

However, the thrill of success dissipated, when my mother told me that she was extremely anxious that I would be ostracized by my royal cousins. I received a severe reprimand in the form of a letter, from the King of Greece, who felt that it was disrespectful for me to impersonate Diana. Panic set in. My mother kindly called Prince Charles and told him that I had been hired to play his wife. His gracious response was, “well, they are going to make the film anyway, at least she can bring dignity to the role.” I was so relieved. It was as close to a blessing as I could have hoped for.

Accepting this first role as an actress signaled a major crossroad in my life and closed the doors on palace life. And it would eventually strike me as ironic, that if I wasn’t going to be a princess, I would be impersonating one on screen! And more than once!

As I looked back at that moment over the years, I was always shocked that my response was so immediate. Granted, I knew how hard life in the royal fish bowl was – as did Andrew- which is why he gallantly gave me an out – but why didn’t I even take a minute to mull over his proposal?

As I am reliving this memory, it evokes all sorts of feelings that have lain dormant for years. I am feeling the broken part of my heart, the part that would never be able to love a prince because of the betrayal by another prince.

It wasn’t until recently that I put all the pieces together – and I really would prefer not to mention this at all – it would be so much easier and prettier. But it is pertinent. It took me years to uncover a deeper, darker explanation – I had been molested as a child by a royal prince. Of course I would react like that. The last thing in the world I would want – would be to marry a prince, after all, the belief embedded in my subconscious was that a prince = a perpetrator.

What shocked and saddened me, is how insidious childhood wounding is. Traumas we might not remember for years have the power to shape our adult lives without even realizing it.

It took my current husband to point out another reason I should not have married Andrew – we were 2nd cousins – even if it was once removed! A fact that escaped both me and cousin Andrew!

And truth be told, I did end up marrying a prince – one that came with a loincloth rather than a crown!

This evening was indelibly etched in my memory forever. Not only was it a historic event for 100’s of millions around the world, but for me personally, it held some rather extraordinary details which would be hard for anyone to forget.

59 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carrie Stewart Nolan
    Apr 26, 2011 @ 03:34:01

    Wow Catherine, such candor..you are so introspective in your writing and sharing, it’s not only impressive, it’s awe inspiring.
    In truth, you got the Prince Charming that the fairy tales are really about at the heart of things, and your life and children are a testimate to the fact that you got the fairy tale ending we all longed for as girls…AND we got to be entertained by your talents as an actress, so aren’t we glad that you turned down that proposal.
    Keep up the blogging, one day you can make your life story a best seller…I’ve no doubt.
    Carrie Stewart Nolan

    Reply

  2. michal
    Apr 26, 2011 @ 04:20:50

    I like your way of writing, I can see and imagine what you describe. Thank you for sharing GOOD LIGHT
    Mical

    Reply

  3. Envuelo
    Apr 26, 2011 @ 04:21:11

    This entry was like reading a chapter in a GREAT book about an historical event that most of us have an experience of, while you were actually a part of it! I was hanging off every word while racing through it and when I got to the end, I re read it immediately! It’s interesting how the “muscle memory” from that terrible incident from your childhood informed your response to the proposal.

    I really enjoy your blog and this was an amazing entry told as always with humility, humour and without hubris … I think Princess G of M would have approved! 😉

    Reply

  4. Casper Van Dien
    Apr 27, 2011 @ 03:17:25

    Baby. You are my Princess. My Goddess. My Love. My Beloved.
    Thank you for honoring me. Your profound kindness, wisdom and love is a beacon for all seekers to discover their way to the light within us all. You are transforming the world. I know you have transformed mine and our children’s. Thank you. Keep on writing. You have found your voice and it is divine and glorious. I feel the challenge to step up to be a better man everyday because I see how you strive to find God every day. I LOVE YOU.
    Your totally un-biased, all consumingly devoted husband…

    so excited to read your next blog entry.

    Reply

  5. Zachary Hadden
    Apr 27, 2011 @ 03:58:40

    Great blog!! Though you may have had a completely different life if the earlier circumstances hadn’t happened, beyond all the tapestries, pomp and glory you chose to pursue your real dreams of having a successful career, a wonderful mother and a loving wife. Congratulations in choosing a loyal wedding over a royal one.

    Reply

  6. Bunny Dunn
    Apr 27, 2011 @ 04:04:39

    Loved reading this! It makes me glad to know you are authentic enough to not feel any shame in holding anything back. Our light and shadow worlds shaping reality one critical moment at a time.
    xoxo’s B.

    Reply

  7. SpragueD
    Apr 27, 2011 @ 04:07:30

    Extraordinary story, Catherine, well told. The disclosure near the end is jarring and saddening, but you seem to have mined an early tragedy for insight and that’s admirable.

    Reply

  8. Georgia Akin
    Apr 27, 2011 @ 04:14:01

    I have loved you since I first saw you act. There is a golden light that seems to shine on you, that makes you so likeable, honest, and refreshing!
    You could have filled those princess slippers, but you chose wisely, you definetly got your prince! Casper is a wonderful man and father. And together you will conquer your own kingdom.

    Reply

    • cat0x
      Apr 30, 2011 @ 03:46:18

      Georgia, your words really touched me. You couldn’t have given me a higher compliment. I just wrote a blog all about the light on The Daily Word. (a Tweet site) and I will post it here as well. I think you might really like it.

      Reply

  9. Krystal Dammer
    Apr 27, 2011 @ 04:19:35

    Catherine, Thank you so very much for sharing your blog with us. It is wonderful to read each and every post. I wish nothing but the best for you, your loving Husband and family. God Bless you all.

    Reply

    • cat0x
      Apr 30, 2011 @ 03:44:11

      Thank you Krystal, for your kind and encouraging words. I will continue to blog! Yesterday Casper told me I had tweeted “read my bog!” Hopefully, he changed it for me!!

      Reply

  10. Kcat10
    Apr 27, 2011 @ 04:30:50

    Wow, Catherine! You write so beautifully! And I’ll say it again here: You married the right Prince! To me, being truly royal is a matter of the heart and soul. You are a true Princess, just as Casper is a true Prince. Bless you both, and your family, for all the Light and Love you share with the world. You make it a better place for us all.

    Reply

    • cat0x
      Apr 30, 2011 @ 03:42:33

      thank you for your beautiful words. I agree with you on all counts! we all were born to discover our true royalty – our soul – the gateway through which we can access the Divine!

      Reply

  11. GINA
    Apr 27, 2011 @ 05:04:09

    I have to thank you for sharing your delightful story in such a brilliant manner! And thank you for your bravery and fortitude in so eloquently delivering the message that you were once a victim of molestation. I was also molested as a child by a trusted family friend. The embarrassment and shame lived with me for many years. Your candor removes the shame, in my opinion, and I’m certain it will help others tremendously! THANK YOU!! And God bless!

    Reply

  12. Capucine
    Apr 27, 2011 @ 06:12:10

    Dear Catherine,

    Such a detailed and interesting insight into the “behind-the-scenes” of royal celebrity life. For someone who had been a teenager amidst all the media coverage when Diana was married, it is a fascinating peek into the celebrations and partying, along with the complex hierarchy of royal relations and family from someone close to my own age. Thank you so much for sharing it with us…

    As I mentioned to your sweet hubby on his Facebook, I think that you were blessed to find your true “Prince of Hearts” and enjoy your own love-filled “ever after”!

    Best of wishes to you and your entire family all the way from Montreal, Canada!

    Reply

  13. Marin Mrkogaca
    Apr 27, 2011 @ 12:07:25

    Katarina, why don’t You and Casper with children come to Serbia this summer? When was last time You visited us? That would be nice thing for us people living here, because it’s hard times again here…😦

    Reply

    • cat0x
      Apr 30, 2011 @ 03:36:22

      My family visited a lot over the last few years and we love it every time! I am so sorry to hear that it is hard over there and i am sending many prayers for you and our beautiful country.

      Reply

  14. Mark Goodrich
    Apr 27, 2011 @ 21:57:05

    Wow. What an insight into the royal standings. I think having to keep up with all the convoluted titles and relationships and linaeges would be enough to make one’s head spin… It is so far out of most of our common reference to be confusing at times. You did a great job spelling it out.

    I’m glad you made the decision that you did. I can not imagine someone else in your past roles doing them justice after you created the characters we came to love. And I know Casper would not have it any other way.

    Reply

    • cat0x
      Apr 30, 2011 @ 03:33:27

      Thanks Mark! BTW i remember having dinner with Prince Charles when I was 16. He asked me if i knew about my lineage and i answered,”No, I don’t care about any of them, they’re all dead anyways!” At least I have bothered to care in my later years!!

      Reply

  15. Glenna
    Apr 27, 2011 @ 23:47:19

    What a fascinating story! A movie should be made about it. And the comment from your husband is absolutely lovely. The other day my husband told me I looked ‘okay’ and I thought that was sweet. Wait till I show him what a good husband should says!!!

    Reply

    • cat0x
      Apr 30, 2011 @ 03:31:27

      Definitely show your husband!!! – and maybe he can expand his vocabulary! Also, you might both enjoy reading “The 5 Love Languages”!!

      Reply

  16. Nigel Huffington Smyth
    Apr 28, 2011 @ 01:36:55

    I thought perhaps you would be writing about the wedding in Moldavia!

    By the way, I think it’s probably just as well you didn’t suggest to Andrew that being 2nd cousins is a reason not to marry…since his parents are also 2nd cousins!

    Reply

  17. crissy red
    Apr 28, 2011 @ 01:38:24

    you don’t even need storybooks to read to your children, your life is a princess adventure. keep writing Catherine!

    Reply

  18. D. Scott Tjaden
    Apr 28, 2011 @ 05:36:04

    Thanks for writing such a candid account of the Royal Wedding but mostly for being ‘real.’ And Casper is a great, talented guy, so I think you made out just fine!

    Reply

    • cat0x
      Apr 30, 2011 @ 03:23:20

      Thanks! Being real has been my priority and always required a lot of courage – The whistleblowers are not always popular!
      And yes, Casper is a great guy! I am blessed.

      Reply

  19. Charlie
    Apr 28, 2011 @ 06:12:40

    Wow! Great read!! Thanx for the insight🙂 Looking forward to all the great posts in the future🙂

    Reply

  20. Sharon Fourie
    Apr 28, 2011 @ 14:30:11

    Dear Catherine
    On one hand, I wish that your memoirs HAD been published or made into a movie (as discussed in a previous blog), but then if I had seen the movie or read the book, I would have nothing to look forward to……I mean…..you would probably not be writing this blog. In my opinion, you may carry on writing for many more years to come. I hate the computer and the internet, but YOUR blog, is a drawing card for me. Thank you for giving me something to look forward to……..Love & Blessings

    Reply

    • cat0x
      Apr 30, 2011 @ 03:15:59

      Your comments are so incredibly sweet! They fuel whole new layers of creativity and make me wrack my brains for more great stories!!

      Reply

  21. terri
    Apr 29, 2011 @ 01:48:01

    what an amazing story! i found you thru mastin’s daily love! thanks for sharing your ‘princess’ story! i, too loved the comment your husband left for you! what a SWEETIE! xo

    Reply

    • cat0x
      Apr 30, 2011 @ 03:12:58

      I am so happy u found me! Writing in a virtual world is a whole new landscape for me! And i am very blessed to have a wonderful marriage – it now feels like we get to surf on an endless wave, effortlessly – but only after years of HARD work!!!

      Reply

  22. Janice (5 Minutes for Mom)
    Apr 29, 2011 @ 03:12:03

    I am spellbound, waiting for your next post.

    Welcome to the blogosphere — you will be a star here I am sure, just as you are with everything you touch.

    I found your site through a comment that Beverly Hills Mom left on my post about the Royal Wedding.

    What an incredible life you have had — you must tell your stories. And clearly, you have the talent and support to do so.

    Reply

    • cat0x
      Apr 30, 2011 @ 03:09:10

      Thank you so much for your amazingly supportive and open-hearted loving response! Alexandra told me about you! I will keep on writing!!

      Reply

  23. Melody Meiners
    May 03, 2011 @ 03:58:50

    What a great story. You really told it fantastically, and I am so happy to have found you out here in the blogosphere! I can’t wait to read more!

    Reply

    • cat0x
      May 03, 2011 @ 04:31:05

      Thanks Melody! i keep adding things to this blog! I just remembered how stubby Andrew’s hands were! It’s so funny how memories flesh out in stages! I’m so glad u enjoyed it. :))

      Reply

  24. D. Scott Tjaden
    May 10, 2011 @ 03:35:34

    Thanks for letting me repost your blog entry. I got a lot of positive feedback via email!😉
    xo
    Scott

    Reply

  25. Anine
    May 12, 2011 @ 04:57:16

    I enjoyed this blog so much that I wish it was a novel so I could keep turning the pages, excitedly anticipating what happens next!! What a lovely story. Thank you for sharing your memories with us.

    Reply

  26. Veleka Gray
    May 12, 2011 @ 22:23:44

    Catherine, when you played in “The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana,” do you remember a sailing ship scene? My friend Peter Levin invited me to go on that ship one amazing day, and I’ll never forget the feeling. I was like riding on air or glass. I think we sailed from Connecticut. I remember parts of that day vividly.

    Reply

  27. Maureen
    Jun 10, 2011 @ 07:02:06

    What an amazing story and told so beautifully.
    You are a natural wtiter, so candid and insightful.
    I’m so happy to be reconnected.

    Blessings, Maureen

    Reply

  28. Jamie
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 06:00:54

    I am so impressed by your honesty. It take a really brave and strong woman to admit on such a public forum she was molested. You are exactly where you should be in your life right now, and you have such a beautiful family! I hope reliving that story isn’t too painful, because all of us reading see the story as an evolution of a girl to an extremely intelligent woman.

    Reply

  29. Jamie
    Jun 24, 2011 @ 01:31:57

    Catherine, I really hope you post about the “other royal wedding” (Prince Albert and Charlene) I am a slight royal junkie. Shhh It is a secret!

    Reply

  30. Thomas
    Dec 18, 2011 @ 19:18:48

    “Would you be interested in marrying me or would you prefer to be an actress?”

    Without hesitation, I said to him, “quite honestly Andrew, I’d really rather prefer to be an actress.”
    ==============================

    Hi, Catherine,

    It was not just the directness of your comment, but the speed with which you delivered it, that is so striking. And you very succintly and clearly explain the underlying reasons which, while heartbreaking, are also liberating.

    But in the end you did find your prince, your amazing Prince Casper, and you and he are indeed the most “ROYAL” couple in the world!

    And speaking of Princes, there is a local Del Mar story about Prince Harry that you may or may not have heard. Because of your familiarity with Del Mar, you may find the story interesting:

    ======================

    Prince Harry visits Del Mar, Solana Beach

    By Claire Harlin
    editor@delmartimes.net
    Around 11 p.m. on Oct. 15 when men approached Jimmy O’s manager Billy Daniels to let him know a “high-profile diplomat of foreign importance” would be coming to his Del Mar sports bar, he had no clue who it could be.

    The “handlers,” as he described them, said the special guest had one request — that Daniels order the New Zealand versus Australia World Cup Rugby game, which would be televised around 1 a.m. in the United States.

    “I thought it might have been some Congresswoman or foreign minister,” said Daniels. “We had no idea who it was, but we still went out of our way to accommodate the group before they got here.”

    It wasn’t until a few minutes before arrival that Daniels found out his guest was none other than Prince Harry, who had caught a hip-hop and jazz show at the Belly Up in Solana Beach earlier in the night. The 27-year-old prince, an Army captain, is in town for several weeks while attending an Apache helicopter training course at the Naval Air Facility in El Centro, Calif.

    The prince’s group of 10 arrived at Jimmy O’s just about the time bar-goers were leaving and just in time to enjoy the game with the venue to themselves.

    “He was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met,” said Daniels, adding that the prince made a point to introduce himself to every member of the staff. “I’d love to let him know how much the staff enjoyed him and we’d love to have him back.” ====================================================
    So it is heartwarming to know that there are members of the royal family who share your good taste, your style, your warmth and your kindness!

    Reply

  31. cat0x
    Dec 18, 2011 @ 22:47:07

    Thomas, i wanted to thank you for your kind words. And i hadn’t seen the article! Casper and i did a TV series in 2007 in San Diego and we rented a house behind the race track in Del Mar, so i know that area quite well! Harry sounds like he inherited his mother’s warmth!

    Reply

  32. Darren V. Naidoo
    Dec 20, 2011 @ 10:04:53

    Well you created the scene of nostalgia🙂 fabulous !

    Reply

  33. Melissa Bradley
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 22:38:24

    I remember watching that movie, too. That’s when I became a fan of yours and have been ever since. I think i still have the VHS somewhere. LOL I made my dad record it off the TV. Thank you for sharing your terrific memories.

    Reply

  34. Christine
    Dec 28, 2011 @ 12:48:22

    Well, this was quite an extraordinary read! The fact that you have come to realize and evaluate your life the way you have, and relay it in a way that makes the imagination picture every paragraph you write, is a true talent. Thank you for the humor, honesty, and compassion that you have shared. Truly a pleasure to read and look forward to more. Blessings to you and your family.

    Reply

  35. Lee Andrew
    Jan 07, 2012 @ 11:37:42

    Very intresting and well written. Thanks for posting.

    Reply

  36. Stacey wilkowski
    Feb 03, 2012 @ 02:39:14

    What a great story! Thank you for sharing it with us thru your eyes!

    Reply

  37. Andy
    Aug 08, 2013 @ 22:05:12

    What a beautiful post! I was looking for some infos about the movie and … here I am, reading the story of how Catherine Oxenberg got the part, and written by her own hand!! I really enjoyed it, not only for your precious memories but also for the spontaneous and vivid way of describing them … The text is so fluid and detailed I could see images in my eyes, just as it was a movie!
    I wish I could see your interpretation as well … here in Italy (yep, I’m Italian, hope you don’t find too many mistakes in my reply!) it was aired only once in 1984 – I was born only 5 years later, and there are no videos available, not even in English. Hope it will come out on DVD someday, not only because I really love Princess Diana (God bless her!) but also becuase I think you were the only actress that really looked a lot like her (I saw the sequel, “Charles and Diana – Unhappily Ever After”, a really good interpretation – and a lovely hairstyle too!) …
    A big kiss from Italy, Catherine, and good luck for everything!!
    Andy

    Reply

  38. S Habel
    Sep 17, 2015 @ 15:59:58

    Dear Catherine,
    I too was molested as a child and you are so on point regarding childhood traumas shape adulthood. Thank you for your comments as they do offer a comfort in the fact we are not alone in the horror of being molested as a little girl. Be blessed.

    Reply

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