The engagement of Prince William to Kate Middleton was officially announced today, and the media is having a field day. This comes as no surprise considering the Royal Family’s celebrity status both in England and the Commonwealth. Yet, for a Canadian citizen whose royal knowledge is almost non-existent, I was curious to know exactly what it is that makes this event so noteworthy.
So what do we know? We know they are engaged. We know they are to be married sometime next year. And we know that her engagement ring was Princess Diana’s. We are also well aware of the legacy left behind by Diana, and that her divorce may have been one of the factors leading to Prince William waiting so long to propose. He also said in an interview that he wanted to give Kate plenty of time to “back out”. Although it was said partly in jest, William is no stranger to the attention of the media, and is genuinely concerned for the well-being of his future wife. After all, the constant media attention was one of the things Diana found so difficult about being part of the royal family.
Canadian news sources seem to be focusing on the “Royal Romance” aspect of the engagement, noting that instead of the traditional courtship that precedes royal marriages, William and Kate met conventionally, having gone to university together. It is a modern relationship that took over eight years and a few bumps in the road to reach the engagement. For the first time, the royal couple feels within close reach of the public; they appear to have gone through what many couples go through before they tie the knot. Furthermore, Kate comes from a middle-class family who became self-made millionaires rather than being of royal descent. She is the girl next door and she is on her way to becoming not only a princess, but the Queen of England.
For many people, particularly the British, this wedding celebration will be an opportunity for national unity and a way of bringing people together. It is joyous occasion that will be shared in a very public fashion, unlike most celebrity weddings that are done more clandestinely. It is expected that more than 3 billion will watch the event worldwide. Although I never gave the royal family much thought, the media attention speaks to their popularity, and I look forward to learning more about William and Kate, who promise to be a power-couple like we’ve never seen before from the royal family tree.
Source for photo: http://www.mirror.co.uk
For more information on the royal family and the British monarchy, visit: http://www.royal.gov.uk