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Prince William's wedding is no time for austerity

By Autumn Brewington

Yes, Britain just passed an austerity budget with deep, painful cuts in spending and jobs. And, yes, politicians everywhere ought to be thinking about economic plans that are actually within their means.

But, no, the economic downturn should not have any effect on the size or scale of Prince William's wedding to Kate Middleton.

Call my fascination with this couple and their long-awaited engagement indulging my inner wannabe princess. I don't care.

Sure, there's no such thing as a perfect fairy-tale romance. But this is the wedding of Britain's future king. And this is a couple whose courtship in the public eye extends to their convenience-store purchases being scrutinized (he didn't have cash to cover the frozen pizzas this summer, so she paid by credit card).

We've known for years how they met at St. Andrews University -- site of Kate's scantily clad strut down a runway in a charity fashion show -- and shared a house with friends, shielding their romance from the press until William pecked Kate on a 2004 ski holiday and the cat was out of the bag. After graduation he joined the military and she joined the ranks of well-off girls populating London, shopping a lot and then working part-time as an accessories buyer and later for her parents' mail-order Web site. Kate (or Catherine, as the engagement announcement called her) has long fascinated the British media, which first celebrated her ordinariness and then, when the couple split in 2007, speculated that her middle-class background (her father used to be a pilot; her mother, a flight attendant) made her too low-class for the second in line to the throne.

Throughout the will-they-or-won't-they engagement hysteria -- the photographers chronically loitering outside her London flat prompted Kate to move back into her parents' home -- Middleton has stayed silent. She has spoken through her lawyers (the same firm retained by Prince William's father) when she felt her privacy was being invaded, such as when she was photographed playing tennis last Christmas. But she weathered speculation on her jobless status, which earned her the nickname Waity Katie, and scrutiny of her family with a stiff upper lip.

Her girl-next-door-ness and fashion sense used to invite comparisons with William's late mother, whose presence in this engagement was underscored by William's decision to give Kate Diana's engagement ring. But Kate's grace under media pressure over their long relationship suggests that Kate is very different from Diana -- and well understands the gilded fishbowl she'll be committing to living in when she says "I do" next year.

This couple has been dating for eight years. They have been together not just through college but such events as the inquest into Princess Diana's death. They have in key ways grown up together, and they have learned how to withstand intense speculation. There's no reason to worry that Kate will be left to find her own way in royal life.

There will be plenty of time for discussion of the proper role of the aristocracy in the 21st century and, yes, the effects of the wedding on an economically strapped Britain. But this is the time for thinking about the other things that are inherent in the prospect of a royal wedding: the tiaras and other jewels Middleton will don, the horse-drawn coach that will carry her to some fabulous church, and the crowds that will line the streets to see an ordinary girl marry a prince.

By Autumn Brewington  | November 16, 2010; 12:16 PM ET
Categories:  Brewington  | Tags:  Autumn Brewington  
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Ms. Brewington, if you are still single, please remain so, as any husband will face the impossible task of filling your void of "princessness."

Posted by: elgrunir | November 16, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

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