We hate to break it to the American media, but none of you has the "inside story" on Prince William's engagement. And no one really cares.
It should be the perfect story for an audience raised on The Princess Diaries: "commoner" marrying prince; "fairy-tale wedding." The media's certainly carrying on like everyone's salivating on the edge of their seats waiting to see what gown Kate Middleton wears or how the Queen acts during the ceremony. And yet, for all the hype and hoopla, it's really hard to care. Yes, we're talking about the woman who ostensibly will be the next Queen of England, and I'm not dismissing that. However, the story here is remarkably average, royal factor aside: the two met in college, carried on and off for years, and now seem ready to settle down. And if that's the inside scoop, I really can't muster the interest to finish one of the purported blockbusters, or really be bothered about when he puts a ring on it.
Why? Well, partially because we don't actually know anything, and there's probably not a lot to know here anyhow. Check out Vanity Fair's exhaustive story about Kate Middleton and the Prince: it's like 6 pages of nothing, about two people who've done nothing terribly interesting. Says one royal-watcher in the piece, "We know very little about Kate Middleton and probably never will, providing they do their job right. Historically a degree of mystery about royalty has been an advantage." Yeah, but historically, people had a different relationship to royalty: what might have once been intriguing is now just further reason to ignore a story that's both wholly unrelated to our lives, and too commonplace to be exotic or exciting.
We Americans have always had a ridiculous relationship with the British monarchy, which has basically consisted of knowing little about it but remaining fascinated with Princess Diana. (As opposed to the genuinely jaded eye the vast majority of my British acquaintances bring to the subject.) But in the years since Di's demise, things have changed for the casual cross-pond royal-watcher: the drama observers enjoyed broke down and, while we like soap operas, I suspect we collectively find the mix of withholding and dull domestic protocol unsatisfying to palates that have come to expect either action, glamour or spectacular meltdowns. Not even Sarah Ferguson's scandals are really all that scandalous by American standards.
And yet the media keeps trying to make this story happen. Case in point: Bonnie Fuller, who in one article represents the very worst of the kind of recent reporting on the story, marrying a callow lack of understanding with a half-baked attempt to make the saga relatable. It includes some fantastic analysis:
"It was only because Prince Charles roped in the gorgeous, savvy and warm-hearted Lady Diana Spencer that he ended up with such tall good-lookers as sons.
"Anyway, Kate should run for the hills while she still has a chance. I believe she does love William and that's why she's waited, but she's also no doubt in love with the fairytale that she'll be carried away by her real life prince."
First of all, consider the source — and thanks, Bonnie, for the insights. Second, does anyone believe in that "Fairytale" thing at this point? Post-Diana, we're all more inclined, if we think about it at all, to see protocol, scrutiny, and low-energy family dysfunction.
Look, if and when the two get married, yes, it'll be an interesting, rarely-seen bit of anachronistic pageantry. Everyone likes a wedding! But until then: please. Give it a rest. Filler and fluff is all very well, but at least respect the law of supply and demand.
Wills And The Real Girl [Vanity Fair]
Kate Middleton, If You Love William, Don't Let Him Put A Ring On Your Finger! [Huffington Post]