The United States has no monarchy. We pride ourselves on being a democratic society, and often seem to strive towards meritocracy. But now that there's going to be a royal wedding in the UK, we are all in a tizzy!
So why do we care that Prince William has asked Kate Middleton to be his bride? A theory: It's Walt Disney's fault.
Like many Americans, my introduction to the concept of royalty — specifically princesses — came at an early and impressionable age. I watched movies like Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Cinderella before I ever took a history lesson, and thanks to Robin Hood, it took me a long time to process the fact that King Richard was not actually a lion and Maid Marian was not, in fact, a fox. (A vixen? Perhaps!)
For me, an American pop-culture junkie, Prince William and Kate Middleton's engagement means one thing: She gets to be a Princess. And seriously, some part of me, formed when I was three or four, believes that this means she will be dressed by birds, wear clothes sewn by tiny mice, and have woodland creatures as friends. Oh, sure, there's a handsome Prince, but more important are the jewels! And the singing! And the castles! And the woodland creatures.
See, in my mind, this is rare documentary film footage of Kate Middleton and Prince William on vacation in Kenya, where he proposed:
And this is what the wedding will look like: (Please note the bluebirds and mice).
Right now, it's not about the patriarchy, the monarchy, or some kind of oppressive role for women that involves being shackled to an inbred family and forced to produce heirs. It's not about the heteronormative only-a-man-can-fulfill-you message. For me, a royal romance harkens back to the innocence of childhood, of stories, myths and yes, fairy tales. It speaks of dreams, and daydreams, in which a girl could go from ordinary (yes, I know Kate's parents are millionaires) to royal in the blink of an eye, and suddenly have the world — and a horse-drawn carriage — at her feet. A fantasy where love is all that matters! Where living happily ever after is inevitable. Also: Woodland creatures!
And if you're not on board with that, well, you're really not going to like this Disney Princess tribute video.