Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Reasonably Content Ever After

The morning news was all atwitter with the announcement of Prince William's engagement to Kate, aka Miss Catherine, Middleton. (Quick question: I get Kate for Katherine, but why not Cate--a la Blanchett--for Catherine? It's like she's a completely different person now that we know she's been a "C," not a "K," all along.) Far be it from me to tell Meredith Vieira how to conduct her interviews with professional royal watchers, but neither she nor any of her competitors asked the question on every viewers' mind, at least the female ones--what does the ring look like, how many carats, and when will we get to see it?

Diana sported a big honking sapphire sparkler that probably was worth a ton of money but wasn't nearly as pretty as a diamond--in fact it was kind of dark and ominous, which in retrospect was fitting for the marriage. Fergie got a ruby and I guess by default, Prince Edward gave his wife (named Sophie, but nobody cares about the 7th in line to the throne) an emerald. That covers the major gems--will Cate have to make do with a garnet? Or topaz? C'mon NBC, sick "Dateline" on this mystery.

Somewhere at my parents' house is a box of memorabilia from my childhood that contains my baby teeth, a rabbit's foot and a sheaf of magazine covers and newspaper clippings chronicling the wedding and early married life of Lady/Princess Diana. I was the perfect age to completely buy into this fairytale. She was like the ultimate glamorous older sister--so tall and leggy, so blushing and blond. Who didn't want to be her? It was as if by marrying Charles she'd managed the trifecta of head cheerleader, homecoming queen and prom queen all at once.

I lapped up stories of her bopping around the palace, listening to Duran Duran on her Walkman. Telling Charles to stop with the comb over. Falling asleep during stodgy old symphonies. If I were a princess, that's exactly what I'd do. Never mind that I was a junior high student and she was behaving like one too.

What I didn't realize at the time, because I was a kid and kids have absolutely no concept of how a marriage works, is that all the things that made Diana such a hoot of a princess made her a horrible wife. She had nothing in common with her husband. Well, what 19 year old does with a 30something prince? It was a recipe for disaster, but I, along with a billion other people, was too blinded by sapphires and tiaras to see the catastrophe ahead.

So I guess it doesn't matter what K/Cate's ring looks like. Don't get me wrong, I'm as psyched for the spectacle of this royal wedding as anyone. I actually said to my husband the other day, "If this wedding isn't on broadcast [Edward's wasn't, see above note about 7th in line] we're going to have to get cable." I'll be up at 3 in the morning, waiting to see what the dress looks like and hanging on every moment of horse-drawn carriage hoopla. But I'll also be watching with a wiser eye, rooting not for the beautiful princess and her dashing groom, but for a young couple and the success of their marriage. Already it bodes well that they're the same age, have equivalent educations and seem to genuinely like each other--this relationship seems less "Cinderella," more Jim and Pam of "The Office." I'll settle for a little less fairytale this time around, and a little more happily, or reasonably content, ever after.

Update: Oh no he didn't. William gifted K/Cate with his mother's engagement ring. Ugh. Maybe it's just me, but I'd want my own ring, not one associated with the most disastrous marriage in modern history. William sweetly claimed the gesture was his way of making sure Diana didn't miss out on the festivities, but I can vouch that no woman wants her mother-in-law being part of her marriage proposal. Good luck, K/Cate, you'll need it.


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