India Hicks was just 13 years old when she served as a junior bridesmaid for Princess Diana’s historic wedding to Prince Charles back in 1981. Hicks, who is now the founder of her eponymous lifestyle brand, recently recounted her memorable experiences serving as part of the royal bridal party.
“I hadn’t slept very much,” she told E! News of the night before the big day, during which she stayed over at that Palace at Princess Margaret’s urging. “I was nervous because I’m not home, and where are my pajamas?!”
“Of course, Princess Margaret was entirely practical and saw a 13-year-old, grubby little schoolgirl and thought, ‘I’ll put her in the nanny’s room,’ which was a tiny little single bed—so not quite the luxury my mother had been anticipating,” Hicks added. “But, nevertheless, she was very nice and I do remember the moment Princess Margaret came, very sweetly, to the door in her dressing gown and offered to lend me her toothbrush.”
Hicks was originally asked to be a part of the wedding party by Prince Charles, who personally called her while she was in the Bahamas on vacation with her parents. At the time, she said, she didn’t have any real gauge of how big a deal the ask was.
“That wedding is so weighted in history for all sorts of reasons, the enormity of it, the fairy tale-ness of it, nobody knew what was going on underneath, and an heir to the throne just like William and Kate,” she said. “It was so much bigger than I imagined it to be. When I look back, and I think, ‘Oh my God,’ my head [is on] a piece of a jigsaw puzzle now.’ That’s kind of weird.”
It wasn’t until Hicks began to attend the first fittings and rehearsals that she started to understand the enormity of the wedding she was about to take part in. She recalled arriving on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the press being “just barmy, trying to get photographs; the pushing, the shoving and all of that was slightly unnerving.”
Hick’s mother, who had served as a bridesmaid in The Queen’s wedding in 1947, gave her just one word of advice: “You must wave.”
She elaborated: “… Her point was people have come and they have slept out in the streets in order to witness a wonderful occasion, they want to be as acknowledged or as involved as they possibly can and to have someone waving at them means they’ve been seen.”
On the day of, Hicks recalled, there were several poignant moments wrapped up in the hecticness of the big day, including when wedding gown designer David Emmanuel introduced himself to Princess Margaret and the Queen after crawling out from under Diana’s huge ball skirt. There was also a moment when everyone was getting ready and stopped to sing along to a Cornetto ice cream advertisement that came on the TV.
When it came to the bride, Hicks said that the princess-to-be only revealed her nerves in one particular moment: “I remember Diana getting to the bottom of this huge sweeping staircase in Clarence House and she paused and said, ‘I’d like a glass of water.’ People always say, ‘Do you thin she was nervous?’ And that was the moment … she hadn’t seemed nervous before then, she had been really relaxed upstairs as she got ready.”
As part of her duties, Hicks remembered having to help sort out Diana’s iconic 25-foot train and later accompanying the bride to a chamber upstairs for her to help her change from the wedding gown into a blue dress for the reception.
At the end of the day going into the evening festivities, however, Hicks said her 13-year-old self had had enough.
“I was tired when I got back [from the ceremony] and I took my dress off, and my mom was like, ‘Why don’t you lie down for a little bit?’” she recalled. “And I woke up and it was midnight, and everyone was gone. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe I’d missed my first big ball. I was so annoyed at my mother.”
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s highly anticipated, televised nuptials will take place on May 19 at Windsor Castle.