This was originally published in the Chicago Sun-Times July 30, 1981 and written after Mike Royko had lost his first wife. It was written for Charles and Diana, and although it didn’t seem to take for them maybe it will for William and Kate.
Dear Prince Charles and Lady Diana:
The trumpets have stopped blaring. The incredible crowds have dispersed. Satellite TV has taken a rest. You two have walked up the aisle in the most publicized and widely seen wedding in history.
It’s not really that important that you, Charles, are a prince and king-to-be. And that you, Diana, are a queen-to-be. What I see is something far more important. You are a couple of people who just got married. That gives you something in common with all the young lovers, and older lovers, in a world that sometimes seems loveless. You’re really no different from the kid from the Southwest Side of Chicago who is assistant manager of a pizza joint, and his bride from Oak Lawn who is going to nursing school. They might not have had the trumpets and the audience of millions. But their vows and their commitment are no different from yours.
And now you are what you are: A young married couple.
That gives you something in common with all the young lovers, and older lovers, of a world that sometimes seems loveless.
The experience of marriage is very old. It goes back beyond recorded history. It goes back to some time, before man could write or scratch pictures on walls, when a female and a male found themselves in a cave or in the crook of a tree, surrounded by the dark of the night, giving each other comfort, warmth, and security.
This, somehow, became translated into something called love.
Nobody is really sure what love is. Shrinks mess around with trying to define it, and just make it sound more complicated than it is. Poets, as neurotic as they are, do a much better job.
I’m not sure what it is myself, except that it leaves you breathless, makes everything else seem unimportant, and can cause you ecstasy and misery and drive you crazy. And also drive you happy.
Be warned: There will be times when she’s going to be mad as hell at you. And there will be times when she will drive you up a wall.
When that happens—yell. That’s right, yell. Tell her you’re mad. And tell him you’re mad. Then get it out of your systems, glare out the windows, breathe loudly through your nostrils, mutter under your breath, take a walk around the block, call a close friend and complain about how impossible he or she is. Sit and brood about how you got yourself into such an impossible relationship. Daydream, if you must, about the perfect man or the perfect woman you could have had.
Then call it a day, say you’re sorry, go to bed, hold each other in your arms, do whatever else is called for, and wake up at the first chirp of the birds glad to be alive, and with each other.
You’ll find that to be one of the sweetest moments of your life. Almost as sweet as awakening at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning and seeing the other lying next to you, the moonlight playing on the other’s body, and reaching out and gently putting your hand on the other’s hand.
You are really lucky, you know. You are lucky because, I assume, you are in love and are beginning a life together. And that’s more important than anything else you do, your work, your place in history, or the opinions, approval, or disapproval of others.
Now when you’re down, someone will take your hand and help you up. When you’re crying, someone will dry your tears. When you’re frightened, someone will hold and reassure you. When you’re alone, someone will tell you you’re not.
That, young prince and young lady, matters more than all the ringing of the bells and the blowing of the trumpets. It’s something almost everybody wants, and not everybody has.
So, kids, good luck and don’t blow it.
And remember: Squeeze the toothpaste tube from the bottom.