Priceless Details Of The Royal Wedding

Just when you think you've heard about as much as you could possibly want about the royal wedding, our friend A.J. Jacobs comes along. Jacobs is Esquire Magazine's editor at large, and he joins host Scott Simon to share some little-known nuggets of royal wedding history.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

Just when you think you've heard about as much as you could possibly want to about the royal wedding, our friend A.J. Jacobs comes along. A.J. is Esquire magazine's editor-at-large, famous know-it-all journalist. He's with us to share some little known doubt aspects of Royal wedding history.

A.J., thanks for coming back.

Mr. A.J. JACOBS (Editor-At-Large, Esquire Magazine): Thank you for having me.

SIMON: This wedding has been described as modest for royal standards, just about $18 million.

Mr. JACOBS: Yeah.

SIMON: So what's a real blowout of a royal wedding?

Mr. JACOBS: The most expensive royal wedding was $100 million and this was the sheikh of Dubai back in 1981. And he had a stadium built for 20,000 guests and he had gifts brought in by bejeweled camels. So yeah, Prince William and Kate Middleton very, very restrained.

SIMON: Bejeweled camels?

Mr. JACOBS: Bejeweled camels, that's right.

SIMON: Tackiest wedding.

Mr. JACOBS: I would go with the wedding arranged by Peter the Great of Russia for his niece. And in the middle of the wedding, two dwarves popped out of the centerpiece and started dancing the minuet on the table. And Peter the Great had an odd obsession with dwarves. And he actually threw another wedding simultaneously...

SIMON: When you save dwarves, we mean little people these days. Right?

Mr. JACOBS: That is true. Right, little people.

SIMON: Yeah, okay.

Mr. JACOBS: He held a simultaneous wedding for the court little person and 70 little people brought in on Shetland ponies. So this was an odd thing that he had going.

SIMON: We don't have royal weddings in the United States, although we obviously have some elaborate and elaborately tacky ones as well. But one president of the United States did get married in the White House.

Mr. JACOBS: That's right. That was Grover Cleveland. And I have to say there was just a tinge of creepiness to the whole affair, because Grover Cleveland had been friends with the bride's father and knew her since birth. He was basically her guardian since from when the time when her father died, when she was 10.

When they got married she was 21 and he was 49.

SIMON: On the other hand, this kind of creates a clear precedent for Woody Allen to be president one day, doesn't it?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. JACOBS: I was going to mentioned them, but I'm glad you did.

SIMON: Note of caution to the newlyweds, and they do seem like very nice people: Attila the Hun met an untimely demise on his wedding night.

Mr. JACOBS: That's right. And there are several theories about what happened. Some say that it was alcohol poisoning. Others say that it was just exhaustion. So, as you say, a good cautionary tale, you know, for Prince William - just take it easy.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. JACOBS: It's a marathon, not a sprint.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Well, we can always rely on you to elevate it - add a note of class to our discussion on anything.

A.J. Jacobs, Esquire magazine's editor-at-large. Thanks for being with us.

Mr. JACOBS: Thank you for having me.

SIMON: This is NPR News.

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