PRINCESS WEDDING FEVER!
I can see it coming on the horizon, and I want it to stop before it even starts.
When Prince Charles of Wales became engaged to Lady Diana Spencer, the world swooned. The crown prince, marrying a might-as-well-be commoner! And wasn’t she just so beautiful and gracious? What a kind heart! She became a media darling, and their wedding–a lavish affair by any standard–was watched by 750 million people worldwide. It was a fairy tale come true.
Well, we all know how that turned out. It was essentially a marriage built on rocky ground that went against Charles’ prior affection for another woman, and the marriage ended in divorce–SCANDAL! The world was so terribly sad–but they did so love Diana! That adoration didn’t do much to help Diana herself, though. And it all ended in tragedy, the princess dying in a car crash in France. (Conspiracy theories abound, but it was probably just alcohol.)
Everyone loves a good story, and we love to romanticize anything with a hint of fairy tale. We turned Diana into Cinderella though true love evaded her. What will we do with Kate Middleton, who has had eight years of love and friendship to solidify her match with William and decide for herself whether or not she is ready to take on the role of princess–perhaps someday queen.
The wedding will be this coming spring or summer and already people are speculating. What will Kate wear? Where will it be held? How big will it be? What flowers? How much will it all cost? Will her shoes be a gift from a designer? Will she wear jewels from the royal collection? (Her engagement ring was Diana’s engagement ring and jewelers are already inundated with orders.)
You know what? I DON’T CARE (that much). I’m interested, I admit. I will look for the wedding photos after the event and ooh and aah with everyone else. But I DO NOT CARE enough(!) to spend the next 6+ months daydreaming, obsessing, and hunting down every tidbit of rumor the internet has to offer.
And you know the internet and the mainstream media will provide.
I am dreading the magazines, especially. Every wedding for the next two years, at least, will be influenced by this one. Brides will clamor for a piece of the fairy tale and the the Wedding Industrial Complex will work like the dickens to fill that need. Every minute facet of this wedding will be in vogue, and then the designers will replicate it ‘with a twist.’ Then it will be shifted three steps to the left. Then back to the right. Some aspects may become cemented in the new wedding lexicon, like Queen Victoria‘s white dress.
Dear Powers That Be, can’t we just skip all that?
Here’s what I’m interested in:
What made Kate finally agree to this? Today’s royalty live in a media bubble. Crown Princess Masako of Japan also took years to contemplate a marriage to the Crown Prince Naruhito. Like Kate, she was an educated, working woman, with international experience. It has been well documented that she resisted joining Japan’s royal family, which is even more strictly regulated than its English counterpart. She was put under intense pressure to stop working and traveling alone, and to have a child–a male child. Masako stopped making any sort of public appearance for several years and still goes out very rarely, leading many to speculate that she has something akin to depression.
Could something similar happen to Kate? Diana and her sons set a new standard for ‘active’ British royals, flying across the world doing good deeds. Kate is clearly in a similar mold, having accompanied William on many, many trips. But what if she wants something else in her life? How much freedom will she have to pursue it? Will it even be feasible, practically, for her to attempt anything else?
Will William and Kate ultimately rework the British monarchy? Queen Elizabeth is a holdover from a very different era, and she has governed the family by those rules. It was absolutely unthinkable, prior to Charles and Diana, for a royal couple to divorce–which would not have been necessary if Charles had been given the freedom to marry Camilla Parker-Bowles, his enduring love. He was forbidden from marrying a commoner. Even after Diana’s death, many years later, it was shocking when Charles and Camilla finally wed.
My impressions of the young couple are positive ones. I don’t think Kate enters into this union lightly. I think that the royal aspect was a deterrent, not a bonus. Their eight years together haVE cemented them–they even survived a breakup in 2007. Kate strikes me as a down to earth sort of woman who doesn’t feel the need to splash her life across the headlines, and intends to use what power she has for good causes. It’s clear that William loves her deeply, and that they respect one another. Honestly, after eight years, you pretty much are married, emotionally.
I suppose you could define my interests as more ‘gossipy’, but they’re also important in the larger scheme of things. Kate and William are part of a long, long-standing tradition, and their actions will change it. The way they conduct themselves may even alter the way other monarchies behave. It also says a lot about how the British royal family treats its women, which sets an example for the rest of the nation.
Just please, please don’t try to distract us with frippery. Parties are great and all, but reality keeps calm and carries on.