What Exactly Is A Lady-In-Waiting?

Today in obligatory royal wedding news, we give you a strange creature somewhere between a bridesmaid and a historical relic: the lady-in-waiting.

Summarizes Slate,

The job certainly has evolved over the years. Many of the tasks that used to be allotted to ladies-in-waiting (helping her mistress dress, for example) have been assigned to other, paid members of the royal household. Today the ladies function more like social auxiliaries, helping the royal entertain dignitaries and manage her correspondence. Yet their true purpose has remained the same across the centuries: to provide appropriate companionship and wise counsel for a woman who can't exactly make friends by joining a book club and can't unwind with those friends over pints at a local pub.

In other words, exactly what a regular bridesmaid does — if a regular bridesmaid had signed a confidentiality agreement. Some of the historical titles persist: the ladies of the bedchamber and the mistress of the robes, who nowadays don't have to do anything of the kind (although the latter is still de facto social director of the crew.) As to who the bride's attendant will be? Maybe sis Pippa, but on the other hand it could be someone who can actually instruct her in protocol. Says the HuffPo,


"Diana didn't use her sisters until years into the job," royal watcher and author Judy Wade tells PEOPLE. "Up until then she had someone who was steeped in the royal background, and Kate might do the same. If Pippa does do it, it will likely be on a part-time basis."

As with most things royal wedding, it's all speculation until the day of (T-11, but who's counting) but for now everyone can content themselves with a mix of history, gratuitous Diana references and nonsense.

Who Will Be Kate Middleton's Lady-In-Waiting? [Huffington Post]
Waity Katy's Ladies [Slate]