Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wills And Kate: A Very Public Love Story

Story originally published on Click2Houston.com

LONDON -- Few moments in Prince William of Wales' life have not been recorded for posterity. Where he went to school, how he dresses, what he eats, where he goes, who he associates with, what he says and even the amount of hair on his head are a matter of public record -- noted, dissected and discussed endlessly in the tabloid newspapers of the country he will most likely reign.

It has always been this way. His birth, on June 21, 1982, was international front-page news. When his parents -- Prince Charles and Princess Diana -- divorced, it was fodder for stand-up comics all around the world. When he was 15 years old, his mother famously died in a car crash. Books were written about the event, films and television programs made. For William, the deep tragedy of losing one's mother became a historical event.

Considering this media glare, it is perhaps surprising William has maintained a sense of "normalcy." To most in Britain, it appears that William, more often than not, manages to behave in daily life as other Britons would -- visiting the local pub and even doing his own shopping.

Or, maybe William acts as Britons would like to think they would. Following his mother and father's lead, he is deeply involved in charitable organizations. He and his roguish younger brother, Harry, use their inescapable fame to draw attention to and support for a long list of good causes. William alone is patron to some 21 charities and organizations, many focusing on children's issues and support for military men and women.

By contrast, Catherine Elizabeth Middleton was born and raised in relative obscurity. The eldest of three children, the 29-year-old was brought up in an upper middle class home in the county of Berkshire, in southeast England. She was a popular and talented student, and captain of her school's field hockey team.

She and William first met in 2001 at University of St. Andrew's, in Scotland, where the two studied art history. Kate became a confidante of William and is credited with encouraging him to continue his studies despite doing poorly in his first year. That closeness, however, resulted in her almost instantly becoming a household name.

Naturally beautiful and charming, and now linked to the son of one of the most famous figures in royal family history, Kate found herself at the center of media frenzy. Thanks to an agreement made between the royal family and members of the press, media attention was toned down slightly during the couple's university years. But upon their graduation in 2005, tabloid speculation instantly turned to talk of when the two would marry.

Over the past years there have been a number of false alarms. In 2006, rumors of an impending royal wedding were so fevered that department store chain Woolworths commissioned a line of souvenirs to be made.

Media scrutiny became so intense that in April 2007 the couple split temporarily. Both William and his father, Prince Charles, appealed for press restraint, drawing allusions to the paparazzi scrums that are often named as a contributing factor in Princess Diana's death. Within a few months, however, William and Kate were back together, though coy about their exact status as a couple.

On Nov. 16, 2010, the couple announced they were engaged. The news was met by all-day coverage from the BBC. Within the week, half-hour television specials had been produced to air during prime time. Shortly afterward, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that William and Kate's wedding, to take place April 29, 2011, will be a national public holiday in the United Kingdom.

Since the wedding announcement, souvenirs ranging from the ridiculously expensive (such as a $700 porcelain figurine) to the outrageously tacky (royal wedding condoms, for example) have flooded main street stores and Internet shops. Tens of thousands of people are expected to turn up in London to cheer the couple on the day, and thousands more are planning street parties throughout the country. Worldwide, millions upon millions are expected to watch live coverage. One tabloid has gone so far as to suggest that 1 billion people will be glued to their TV sets.

In the meantime, William and Kate have already begun settling into their royal duties. The two have appeared together at a number of official functions and overall crowd response has been incredibly positive. Wills and Kate, as they are simply known, are a hit. As Queen Elizabeth II nears the 60th year of her reign she can take comfort that interest in the royal family is unlikely to wane any time soon.


Anonymous said...

All very deferential this Chris............


Dani said...

I wonder if they registered at Target.