Chapter Four: Wedding Vows And False Smiles
The wedding planners had certainly pulled out all the stops and spared no expense when arranging this beautiful wedding.
Camera crews were strategically dotted around to capture the day for the fans across the globe.
They had followed the romantic story of the Southern Princess and the Northern Prince, and were now excited to see it to its completion.
If they wanted a perfect, romantic story of true love, then that was what they were going to get.
Candles flickered in chandeliers all around the cathedral and bouquets of roses adorned the end of every pew.
The guests were decked out in all their finest attire, with royalty and celebrities among the many guests.
Kensington tried to forget the fact that her parents were not there, and instead relished the fact that she was wearing the most exquisite gown she’d ever seen, and that all eyes were on her.
This was the sort of attention that Princess Kensington Lance truly loved.
People watched her, both adoringly and jealously, as she made her entrance and waited by the large wooden doors for her cue to walk down the aisle.
There were so many things she was nervous about, but she pushed them to the side, focusing instead on the beauty and opulence of the day.
Yes, there were many negative sides to being a princess—many stupid rituals. But this—being the people’s darling as she walked down the aisle—this was a dream come true.
As the music began, two flower girls—some distant relatives of Douglas’s—walked down the aisle, throwing rose petals and smiling adorably.
The audience cooed over them, but Kensington knew they were waiting for the main event.
She was the main event.
And then it was her turn. There was no one to walk with her, but she held her head high, and remembered how she must walk.
The weight of her train behind her helped her to keep pace with the music. She blushed as she heard so many members of the audience gasp at her majesty.
She did not focus on the fact that Douglas was at the end of the aisle. Instead, she lapped up the attention, knowing this was the part she loved about being a young princess.
She did not make eye contact with anyone and instead focused on a red pane in the stained glass window, just above Douglas’s head.
And then she was at the altar.
She put her hand into Douglas’s—which was a fraction warmer than the last time they did this—and focused on the ceremony that millions of people across the globe were watching this very moment.
Douglas’s wedding suit was very fine, and she remembered that beneath it, his body was surprisingly toned.
He looked nervous. She wondered if he’d been told about the ritual they would be following that night.
She presumed so, but she would have to think about that later. If she thought about it now, this would all be too difficult to go through with.
“Marriage is a time-honored event that joins those in love,” he began.
“And as this prince and princess come before us to be joined in holy matrimony, I am reminded of how humbling it is to be joined before God, no matter one’s station in life.”
Kensington struggled to follow along with the words that the Archbishop spoke, but they seemed weighty and serious, and the gravity of what she was entering into began to sink in.
The ring exchanging ceremony, complete with a beautiful satin cushion, and a special prayer that blessed the rings, was performed in full view of the cameras.
As Douglas slipped the ring onto Kensington’s finger, although she felt a sense of dread, she also felt that she was part of something important.
“You may now kiss the bride,” the Archbishop said.
Kensington watched as Douglas shivered as he moved towards her, before pressing his lips to hers.
He was definitely more enthusiastic than before—perhaps he was following the instruction to inject a little more passion.
But she was disappointed that there was no flutter of excitement in her stomach at the contact.
The crowd stood and cheered wildly. Kensington basked in it.
Then Douglas linked her arm with his, and led her from the cathedral.
So much was going on around her, and she was very aware of the fact that the cameras—and the press—were watching her every move.
In the corner, as they proceeded back down the aisle, she saw Doreen Duncan, whom she’d briefly met on the night she first arrived in Marovia.
There had been so many names and faces that night, but she’d remembered the petite, dark-haired woman with haunting eyes.
The woman was crying. Although Kensington could not outwardly react, she found it odd.
She knew Doreen was a close friend of the Nielsens. In fact, she remembered someone mentioning that they adopted Doreen as a youngster because of some sort of tragedy.
Of course, she was an adult of twenty-one now, and Kensington wondered why on earth she would be crying at Prince Douglas’s wedding.
Surely—other than possibly for Kensington herself—it was not a sad occasion?
It was also odd to Kensington that Douglas’s brother, Prince Patrick, was not in attendance at their wedding.
The history between Kensington and Patrick was unimportant; a fleeting flirtation many years before. But Kensington still remembered him fondly.
She was surprised that he’d not returned for the wedding. And that he wasn’t forced to return, either—for this was an event with the eyes of the whole world upon it.
She had heard he was in Britain, celebrating his engagement to some minor British royal.
But surely their engagement could have been timed a little better, in order to not take the focus from his brother’s—the heir to the throne—wedding?
In a world where everything was carefully planned and executed, it seemed strange that Patrick could get away with not only taking the spotlight but also not attending his own brother’s wedding.
Surely the press would be filled with gossip about why he’d not been there.
The newlyweds exited to beautiful sunshine and an even larger crowd, who cheered and called for them to kiss.
Once more Douglas pressed his lips to hers, and she could not help but think about how they would be doing something so much more intimate later—and still observed by an audience.
It made her shudder, but she managed to control the expression on her face.
Years of media training taught her to never show her real emotions.
The crowd threw confetti over them. She made sure she was smiling, even though inside panic had set in.
She would have to learn to love Douglas, she told herself—that was the only way she was going to have the future she desired.
It was no good feeling miserable for the rest of her life, unhappy with her lot. This was what she agreed to, and Douglas wasn’t such a bad person, surely?
The footmen helped the newlyweds into the horse-drawn carriage, which would take them to their wedding reception.
Kensington waved at the assembled crowds and took heart from the fact that they had all come out to see her.
“Are you all right?” Douglas asked as the horses set off along the cobbled path.
“I suppose so,” she said.
“It’s a shame your parents had to leave,” he said. “And I suppose the royal manager came to speak with you this morning?”
She blushed and nodded.
If she was embarrassed to even talk about this with him, how on earth was the night going to go successfully?
“It will be nice,” he said. “Don’t panic. I’m sure it will go to plan.”
He sounded so cold and clinical about the whole thing. It did not set her mind to rest.
Cameras flashed wildly as they climbed down from the carriage.
Kensington quickly entwined her arm with Douglas’s, cognizant of the need to portray happy newlyweds, and they smiled and waved in the directions they were called.
She could feel Douglas’s body stiffening beside her. How odd that he found all of this so uncomfortable. Surely, as a prince—and next in line to the throne—he had grown up being in the public eye?
It was something you just accepted after a while. And Kensington always quite enjoyed it.
Yet another way she and Douglas seemed to be poles apart.
“Where will you be going on your honeymoon?”
“Was the proposal romantic?”
“Will you wear the crown of Marovia now?”
Members of the press threw questions at them from all angles as they walked towards the gazebo, set up for the “intimate” wedding reception of almost a thousand guests.
As they would be talking exclusively to a national newspaper about their marriage, they did not answer any of them.
Instead, they walked side by side, a fake smile on Kensington’s face—and one she believed was also fake on Douglas’s.
Now she simply had to get through a few hours of smiling, and cutting cake, and even more photos.
...Then the dreaded filmed consummation would be upon her...