Saturday, April 28, 2012


Last year, billions of people around the world tuned in to watch Prince William marry Kate Middleton. Today, the media and reinvigorated royal watchers as well as legions of new fans remain captivated with the lives of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Their aspirational accessibility, canny public relations campaign and, let's face it, sheer star power has renewed interest in the British monarchy and, as many royal watchers believe, saved the institution from obsolescence. While the wedding fervor (which brought out an estimated one million people to line the streets of London) has faded, the couple has managed to tweak their image as stars of a fairy-tale romance into modern royals whose marriage, that while completely different from those of mere mortals, looks (at least on the surface) to be remarkably 'normal.' It's Wills & Kate: They're Just Like Us (when, in fact, they're like no one else). And we can't get enough.

Why is that?

It's simple, really. William and Kate, unlike the last royal couple that fascinated the public, really look like they are in love and are completely at ease with one another. They make us want to root for them. In an age where a steady stream of depressing news stories dominate every outlet, they're like a breath of fresh air. A reminder that, yes, fairy tales do come true or, if you prefer a moderate version, that not every celebrity is white trash. There's something to be said for wholesomeness after all.

The couple's naturalness in their public life seems to have obscured whatever nerves commoner-turned-future-queen Kate may have (She out 'royaled' the royals on her wedding day and has, as the Brits like to say, never put a foot wrong). She seems born to this life. We want her to succeed, to rewrite the terribly unhappy ending that shocked the world when Diana died. Ironically, there would be no Kate if there hadn't been Diana. I wonder if that fact is not lost on William. How could it not be?

For William, who has always had a huge distrust of the media, Kate's talent (and it is a talent) for public life has been something of a relief to him and has made him seem a lot less guarded and happy in the spotlight. I give extremely high marks to their virtually invisible PR campaign (and I'd love to know who is really calling the shots). The couple has struck the perfect balance between a low key private life and just the right amount of public appearances that keeps their star shining just bright enough. She does her own food shopping but still managed to outshine Hollywood's biggest stars at the VIP reception in California when they made their first visit to the states last summer. He had to go back to work right after the wedding because he was not able to take the time off he requested because he was not next in line to do so and there was no grousing about it.

William and Kate are both the most famous couple in the world (Take that, Brangelina!) and 'the couple next door.' They have no servants (I think they're nuts to have passed up on that royal perk), she cooks dinners for her husband and when they're not making an appearance on the Queen's behalf, they're home in Anglesey, Wales watching their favorite DVDs. For her part, Kate has become the new ambassador of British fashion (a title passed down to her by late mother-in-law). Kate selected Sarah Burton who famously took over for Alexander McQueen and made the designer a worldwide sensation that minute she alighted from her Rolls Royce on her wedding day. It was a brilliant move -- pleasing savvy stylistas who applauded her choice of the avant garde label and mass market, fashion-obsessed brides-to-be the world over who showed up at bridal salons everywhere clutching pictures of the elegant, flattering design. Kate has popularized looks that virtually any woman can wear -- nude platform pumps, dark denim, wrap dresses and (gasp!) sheer pantyhose. Best of all, she recycles her clothes. She wore the ivory Reiss dress she selected for her engagement photo during her trip to Canada. A periwinkle sheath from Zara (she's more high street than haute couture) has made several appearances and she's logged plenty of miles in her LK Bennett pumps.

But their style isn't without substance. When the riots broke out in Britain, it was William who insisted that he and Kate visit the affected areas and met with a man whose son had died during the violence. Kate personally selected the charities who would receive her patronage and has worked quietly with all of them while carefully choosing when to let the cameras follow her. William, intent on having the military career he always wanted, continues to work as a rescue helicopter pilot although his request to serve on the front lines will never be honored because of his position as heir to the heir. The perception is that they are 'working' royals. And, most importantly, I'm fairly certain we're never going to hear the secret tape recording of conversations from an illicit love affair involving either of them. William and Kate know the drill and they're not going to screw things up. Too much is riding on them; they know it and have accepted it with grace.

Good for them. Happy Anniversary and many more!

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