David Lauderdale

How the royal wedding is a symbol of Britain's bright future

A Britisher who will be lecturing on Margaret Thatcher this week at the University of South Carolina Beaufort compares the "Iron Lady" to the delicate bride in Friday's royal wedding.

Both Thatcher and Catherine Middleton made it to places they would never have been allowed to go in the past.

"We're a more adaptable lot than we may seem on the surface," said Noel Sloan, a native of Great Britain who now lives in New York and escapes to Beaufort each spring.

With adaptability comes hope.

Thatcher faced two major disadvantages when she became prime minister in 1979. She was not from wealth. She was the daughter of a grocer, living above the store in a small town. And she was a woman -- the first to become prime minister.

Sloan witnessed Great Britain as a depressed place before Thatcher transformed it through courage and perseverance.

"I think her story is so remarkable I want more and more people to understand what she achieved," Sloan said.

Under Thatcher, the country showed it could change after periods of outright failure.

"It became a successful country," Sloan said. "It reinvented itself."

And so it is that Great Britain is enthralled with Prince William's bride-to-be, the commoner he met in college. Kate Middleton's roots on her mother's side include coal miners. Both her parents work for British Airways.

"It shows how much the royal family has changed since the time of Prince Charles and Diana's wedding," Sloan said. "When Charles married, it HAD to be to an English aristocrat, whereas his son has greater freedom."

The greatly anticipated wedding will start at 4 a.m. Friday. Sloan will be glued to a large flat-screen television in Bay Street's Lewis Reeve Sams House, circa 1852.

Bringing the scones and tea to the pre-dawn party will be Jim and Josette Grimsley. They'll be craning to see their son-in-law riding a gray horse. Lt. Col. Charles Antelme, who married their daughter Margaret on the grounds of Brantley Harvey's Marshlands mansion in Beaufort a year ago, commands the Welsh Guards. His troops will be in formation along the parade route after the wedding ceremony at Westminster Abbey.

Sloan believes countries must change and adapt to prosper.

That hope, embodied by Thatcher and Middleton, is why the royal wedding is so inspiring.

Besides, Sloan says in his rumbling voice with British accent, no one does pomp and circumstance as well as the Brits.