When Prince William and Kate Middleton get married in 2011, it’s only natural that many will compare their wedding to the last great royal wedding – that of his parents Charles and Diana. That was called “the wedding of the century” as 750 million people worldwide watched on television, spellbound by the fairytale. Will William and Kate’s wedding be just as spectacular and just as watched?
The Prince and The Commoner
It’s fun to dream that someday a prince will come to sweep you off your feet, and suddenly you’ll be a princess. That was one reason the Charles and Diana fairy tale was so captivating. Though Princess Diana was a descendent of King Charles II, she was technically a commoner – that is, not part of the royal family. In fact, she was the first British citizen to marry an heir to the British throne in more than 300 years. But, Diana was part of the aristocracy; her father was a Viscount and later an Earl, and Diana had the title Lady Diana Spencer.
On the other hand, Kate Middleton is definitely middle class! Her mother is a former airline stewardess, her father a former pilot. They now own a multi-million dollar party supply business, but have no titles or royal lineage. She will be Britain’s first middle-class Queen-in-waiting. At 29, she’ll also be the oldest woman ever to marry a future King of England.
The Pomp and Circumstance of a Royal Wedding
Charles and Diana were married in St. Paul’s Cathedral in front of 3500 guests. Two million people lined the streets of London to see her procession from Charles House to the Cathedral in a glass coach, and over a billion people either watched the ceremony on television or listened via radio. Her meringue-like taffeta wedding dress sported a 25-foot-long train and was decorated with 10,000 pearls.
Though Kate may be a commoner, she has seamlessly fit in during royal functions. It seems likely that she will understand her role to the British people, and give them a royal wedding worthy of a Princess. She’s known for her elegant but simple style sense, much like Princess Diana. But she’s been known to wear some spectacular hats during appropriate occasions, such as the wedding of Nicholas van Cutsem and Alice Hadden-Paton. She will almost certainly choose a British designer for her wedding dress, and have a team of young attendants as is British custom.
A Tarnished Royal Reputation
When Charles and Diana married, the monarchy was more revered and had a dignified mystique. But a combination of the scandals surrounding their divorce, and an ever-more-invasive press corps has tarnished that reputation. So the question now is, will the public be as enamored with Kate and Wills as they were with his parents? It could be that the dissolution of that once-charmed relationship means that the public will be more reluctanct to buy into the fairytale. Or, it could make the people even more hungry for a great romantic story, and a new couple to believe in. Only time will tell.
Lavish Weddings and The Economy
In the United States, couples have been more reluctant to have expensive weddings because of the poor economy. William and Kate may also be sensitive to the plight of the people and avoid ostentatious details and conspicuous consumption. But there is some leeway given to the monarchy for pomp and circumstance and it’s unlikely that they’ll have an inexpensive event. Though the Middletons don’t have the wealth of the Spencers, Prince William has a considerable fortune of his own, and they should be able to afford an elaborate wedding.
Kate’s Engagement Ring
If the engagement ring is any indication, the couple won’t shy away from comparisons to Charles and Diana; William proposed with Diana’s engagement ring.
The couple have announced that they will marry in spring or summer of 2011, and that more wedding details will be forthcoming. Certainly the world will be watching, and inevitably wondering if it will be the new ‘wedding of the century.’