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Prince William and Kate Middleton: Bringing the Monarchy into the 21st Century

Updated on April 4, 2011
Prince William and Kate Middleton
Prince William and Kate Middleton

With the royal wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton on April 29, there's a renewed interest in the monarchy and the royal family. With the media coverage that the young couple has received since they first started dating, it's no surprise that the pair are appearing nearly everywhere since the announcement of their engagement on November 16th, 2010.

I recently watched something on TV about how people are cashing in on the royal engagement by selling everything from products that have been authorized and approved by Wills and Kate themselves, such as collector's plates and commemorative coins, to cheap, kitschy souvenirs like knock-offs of Kate's $65,000 sapphire engagement ring, shot glasses, playing cards and basically anything that you can put a picture on.  It's estimated that people will spend over $1 billion buying royal wedding memorabilia.

Princess Diana with Prince William and Prince Harry
Princess Diana with Prince William and Prince Harry

There's always been a fascination with the royal family, but modern fascination began with Princess Diana. She was young, innocent-looking, pretty and vibrant, and people loved her. There was a reason she was called the People's Princess and was so well-loved by people all over the world - she had a good heart and a deep desire to help people and connect with them. She was accessible in a way that monarchs hadn't been before, and she brought new perspective to the image of royalty.

With Princess Di's rise to popularity and the fact that people watched her so closely, the royal family had to pay more attention to the image they put forth, and how they wanted to be seen in the media. Of course, the media pounced on any scandal - perceived or reality - and the royal family has had its fair share, but as bad as North American tabloids are, British tabloids are brutal and unforgiving, especially when it comes to the image of the royal family.  But those same highly-publicized scandals have helped the royal family to seem more human - they make mistakes just like the rest of us, despite lineage and breeding and all the other things associated with aristocracy.

Prince Harry and Prince William
Prince Harry and Prince William

Those tabloids, along with the rest of the world, have watched closely as Prince William and Prince Harry have grown up. Their successes and failures, achievements and mistakes have been broadcast for the world to see. Unlike celebrities who choose the limelight and know what they're getting into, William and Harry have no choice - they were born into the royal family, and that means whether they like it or not, everything they do their entire lives will be put under a microscope, picked at and pulled apart. They've handled their 'fame' remarkably well, and have grown into strong, successful men that I think their mother would be very proud of.

Both of the Princes have helped to give the monarchy a fresh, youthful, and modern appearance.  Of course, Queen Elizabeth is still at the helm, and plans to be for many years to come, but the more youthful members of the royal family, especially Princes William and Harry are helping to rejuvenate the way the monarchy is seen.  For many years, it's been said that the monarchy is antiquated and pointless - that's a debate for another time - but with the young Princes, one of whom will eventually become King, it's helping to give the monarchy a 21st century image and not something archaic and practically defunct.

Part of the appeal of William and Kate specifically is that they met in such a normal way - at school - and had a fairly regular courtship (as regular as you can get when you're second in line for the throne). And part of Kate's attraction is that she's a commoner - she's got no royal blood, no title, she's just a regular, everyday girl who works in a normal job, and happened to fall in love with a prince. Most little girls dream of meeting and falling in love with a prince - we are, after all, a Disney generation, where it's possible for those regular, everyday girls to be swept off their feet by princes, get married and live happily ever after.

The buzz that's being created about William and Kate's upcoming nuptials is shining a new spotlight and creating a renewed interest in the royal family. With the marriage of the future king to his longtime sweetheart, it gives people hope for the future of the monarchy. To know that Prince William and Kate Middleton - young and fresh, hardworking and determined - will eventually rule, gives new hope to the people of the commonwealth who have become discouraged with the sometimes backward and old-fashioned workings of the sovereignty.

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