In three days, Prince William and Kate Middleton will marry in the most celebrated royal event in decades. The wedding is but a day, but will their marriage march right into the crossroads of the monarchy’s future?
Dynasties rise and fall and the Windsors are no less vulnerable. In a time of austerity, rising living costs and unemployment, there’s something grating about a birthright that exercises its monied sense of entitlement with deep dips into the U.K.’s public trough.
The monarchy’s popularity has been declining in recent decades with many of the younger generation questioning its relevance in a rapidly changing world. While scrapping it is not currently a pressing issue, its value could come down to a cost-effective analysis, especially after the passing of Queen Elizabeth who still commands the respect and loyalty of the majority of the people. But will her heir Prince Charles have the same magnetism?
In a recent poll taken by YouGov for Prosperity magazine, just 13 per cent want the monarchy scrapped compared to 19 per cent five years ago. And 65 per cent want 86-year-old Queen Elizabeth to continue as monarch rather than step down. Generally, opinion polls say that republicans make up one-fifth of the population.
The division is greater in commonwealth countries. In a May 2010 poll by Angus Reid, 69 per cent of Canadians would like to see a Canadian serving as the nation’s head of state and 52 per cent support reopening the constitutional debate to replace the monarchy.
The immense public affection for Wills and Kate seems to have softened the British attitude but then we’re all suckers for a great romance. Wills and Kate’s relationship has been an ongoing fascination since their university days. After two weary decades of royal scandals, disappointments, blue-blooded meltdowns and the tragedy of Diana’s death, folks are allowing themselves to be cautiously optimistic once more. On Twitter, Facebook and in street talk, the Brits are embracing this wedding as a royal event to enjoy.
Truth is, while Brits grumble about royal privileges at the local watering hole, when push comes to shove they’re protective of the royal factor when it comes to tooting the U.K.’s unique brand and equating it in tourist dollars. The Will and Kate factor is in high economic play right now.
Wills, so much like his mom Diana, is a personality centrepiece for the royal clan and Kate coming from hard-working middle class stock has won the hearts of millions. That could be what people love – the idea of a prince marrying a girl whose parents actually work for a living. In that harsh British social hierarchy, she’s known less flatteringly as a ‘commoner’. But that social stigma is being squashed as Kate defines herself with dignity, style and fashion sense.
This Middletonia magic is good for the Queen. Of all the royals she alone has never been known to take a misstep. It’s in her DNA to recognize change and embrace it. Having her grandson marry into the working class and to a girl the public clearly loves is a coup.
Keeping with popular movements for change, the British government is considering a review of the ancient and discriminatory rules of royal succession bringing firstborn girls into the line up.
It’s been floated that the future of the royal family is wrapped up in this marriage. Failure is not an option. Given how badly three of the Queen’s own children have bombed in their relationships, it illustrates more harshly why this marriage must succeed. Even the pit-bullish tabloids are cautious in the tattling fodder offered the public.
This marriage just might be a very healthy dose of royal Viagra.