It sounds like a scene from a romance novel.
Last month, Prince William and Kate Middleton vacationed in Kenya with friends. For three weeks, William carried the blue sapphire and diamond engagement ring of his mom, Princess Diana, in his rucksack, waiting for the moment.
"It felt really right in Africa. Beautiful time. I had done a little bit of planning to show my romantic side," the heir to the British throne said in a London television interview
after the couple's engagement announcement.
How fairy-tale. But William is a prince after all, and sometime next summer, he and Kate, the first commoner
to marry into the royal family in more than 350 years, will exchange vows in what is likely to be an elaborate spectacle.
England, as is custom over such affairs, erupted.
dedicated pages to the engagement on its website. The country's "heritage industry
" also kicked into high gear with souvenir mugs featuring the couple's rosy faces. The travel industry is also giddy over the prospect of a tourist infestation for the wedding of the college sweethearts. There have also been studies in the United Kingdom that suggest a boost in productivity surrounding nationally shared events.
The wedding announcement couldn't come at a better time to boost England out of its doldrums, many of them stemming from Prime Minister David Cameron's attempts to rein in a huge deficit with slash-and-burn budget cuts across the board. The royal family has even had to tighten its belt around the royal robe. Queen Elizabeth's state funding is frozen at 1990 levels and the staff Christmas party is on hold this year.
Cameron said the wedding
would be a "great day of national celebration" when he heard the news. Unlike the prime minister, many people elsewhere in the world probably could not care less about these impending nuptials.
Oh, but I do.
As a child, England fascinated me with its castles, stories of queens beheaded in the Tower of London, and music history. It seemed like a Gothic dreamland where breathtaking magic and forbidding horror occurred simply to add to the country's complex history. (Diana's wedding, divorce and tragic death later underscored that theory
The summer of Diana's wedding, I was 12 and fancied myself as a reporter covering the story or a fashion designer creating the wedding dress instead of wearing it. On July 29, 1981, I got up at an ungodly hour to watch every minute of the wedding of a prince who was hardly a hottie. (But never mind that.) How I longed to be in London in the middle of the pageantry and hoopla.
For Generation X, too young to fully remember the first moon landing, the Charles-Diana wedding was our first shared global television event. It was five years before the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster and three days before the launch of MTV. Who didn't want to be in England that summer?
But what about next summer, when Prince William and Kate walk down the aisle? The story of Kate the Commoner and her knack of wowing a prince at a college fashion show (by wearing a skimpy dress that showed her bra and panties
) is certainly better than anything Hollywood creates these days. England and the United States also need a strong injection of the glitzy
1980s into the depressing and angry 21st
"Prince William and Kate Middleton are allowing the general public a delicious escape from the mundane world," Pierce Mattie, CEO of a New-York based communications firm that specializes in luxury brands, tells Politics Daily. "Like many Americans, Miss Middleton comes from a self-made family. She represents a new breed of royalty, an independent woman living the fairy tale, but maintaining equal footing in her relationship."
Mattie also has a word of advice for the couple. He says that the couple must remain cognizant of these difficult economic times.
"Done with subdued lavishness, this wedding can capture the minds and hearts of people everywhere," he said.
Indeed, it can. But times change.