Britain's royal wedding set to lift economic gloom (News Feature)
By Anna Tomforde Nov 16, 2010, 16:08 GMT
London - It is the sort of news that brings a smile to everyone's face and lifts spirits at a time of economic gloom.
Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton - or Wills and Kate, as they are known - are to seal their long courtship with a wedding spectacular in London next year.
It will take place 10 years after Kate, now 28, first bewitched the young prince at a fashion show at St Andrew's university in Scotland, from which both graduated in 2005.
During the long courtship that followed, William - who lost his mother, the late Princess Diana, when he was 15 years old - displayed a remarkable seriousness and determination in holding on to Kate, while pursuing his career in the armed forces.
'She will bring the touch of normality to his life that he did not have as a child,' one royal commentator said Tuesday, alluding to Diana's tragic death, which followed her ill-fated, turbulent marriage to Prince Charles, the current heir to the throne.
'Kate is a completely normal, humble person. They will be a very modern couple,' the commentator predicted, as Middleton, a 'commoner' from a wealthy middle-class family, is launched on the path to become - one day - Queen Catherine.
Sightseers at the gates of Buckingham Palace were excited.
'It's really good news. It means that the monarchy does not die out. We are really proud of that in Britain,' said Ellie Dawson, 19, from Newcastle in north-east England.
Anne and Mary, two ladies in their upper 70s, agreed: 'The monarchy is very important. We are excited about the English tradition going on.'
However, Susan, a visitor from Australia, and her daughter, Elena, said: 'It's lovely for the couple, but we are not interested in the royal family.'
When the wedding bells ring in London - more likely to be in the spring than in the summer of 2011 - most Britons will be feeling the effects of stringent austerity cuts made by the government.
For many, the royal wedding will be an opportunity to forget their troubles, while critics are likely to attack the display of pomp and circumstance at a time of economic belt-tightening.
To reflect their public image as two serious young people well in tune with modern life, the wedding of Kate and Wills will not seek to emulate the 'fairytale' style of Charles and Diana's wedding in July 1981, observers said.
It will, nonetheless, bring hundreds of thousands to the streets of London for a day of national celebration, expected to be joined by royalty from across the world, presidents and prime ministers, pop stars and school friends.
If Westminster Abbey is chosen as the venue for the 2011 royal wedding, it will be a place that reverberates not just with royal tradition, but also with memories of the 1997 funeral service for Princess Diana.
It will be a place of sad personal poignancy for William, but will also bring memories of a nation deeply critical of the royal family's allegedly distant response to the tragic death of a much-loved princess.
As Middleton, the oldest of three children, is thrust into the public limelight, she will seek to avoid the pitfalls of becoming the press magnet that Diana was.
If her patience and extremely discreet public conduct over the last decade is anything to go by, Kate could succeed in being the new 'people's princess' - without at the same time becoming a victim of her own exposure, commentators said.
It is often remarked that Kate, a pretty brunette with a natural smile and a keen fashion sense, hails from a family background that is more stable than Diana's, perhaps equipping her better for the new role in the limelight.
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