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Very little happens these days in Britain that attracts worldwide attention. However, on April 29, Prince William of Wales married his long-time girlfriend, Kate Middleton, as the whole world watched. British Prime Minister David Cameron said that this was “a day of great national celebration.”
Kate Middleton has been in the British consciousness for the last several years, and has generally been very popular. Her popularity is most likely due to the fact that she is from the ‘middle class’; she is not someone from the highest social class with whom the Royal Family usually associates.
Prince William and Middleton met in Scotland at St. Andrews University and started dating in 2003. Ever since then, there has been speculation as to whether or not Middleton would eventually marry the Prince. They moved in together as flatmates, and rumors continued to grow in March 2004 when they were pictured skiing together in Switzerland. However, midway through 2007, the couple broke up. Speculation was that their breakup was caused by the negative light in which the Royal Family viewed the Middleton family at that time.
In an incident that occurred a few years ago, the Royal Family reacted snobbishly to Middleton’s mother, Carole, when Carole used the word ‘toilet’ rather than ‘loo.’ English ‘Toff’ society (a derogatory term for the upper class in England) looks down upon those who use words such as toilet. Many people in the UK do not think highly of the Royal Family, and this sort of incident does not help foster greater public appreciation.
Fortunately, Kate and William eventually resumed their relationship and became engaged after Prince William proposed to Middleton on a safari holiday in Kenya.
The Royal Family certainly seems to have accepted Middleton. She has joined the Church of England, the official religion of the Royal Family, and a coat of arms has been made for her as well.
Despite the negative attitude that exists towards the Royal Family, there is a general sense of goodwill about this wedding in the UK. There are several reasons that may explain this level of approval. First, the couple is seen as the future of the Royal Family – as a family that will be more open and less reminiscent of the old, negative image of the Royal Family. There is also great respect for the Royal Family’s sense of duty, especially the Queen’s. Lastly, Britons recognize the importance of the large amount of global tourism that the Royal Family helps bring to the country.
Many English citizens looked forward to celebrating the wedding. The street parties that occurred nationwide on April 29 in celebration of the wedding caused some controversy in weeks leading up to the wedding. Prime Minister Cameron said that some street parties had been refused or that hosts had been charged extortionate amounts. He responded simply, stating that, “If you want to have a street party you go ahead and have one.”
Even though many people were excited to celebrate the marriage, there are always cynics of this type of event who consider it a waste of time. They believe that public money, particularly in this current economic climate, could be better spent on other things. After all, the Royal Family receives a small portion of every Briton’s income tax.
There are also many people who will do anything to try to detract from the joy of the day. Two weeks ago, groups who wanted to hold Republican street parties were denied permission by local councils. Furthermore, an extremist Islamic group was also denied approval in its request to protest outside Westminster Abbey on the day of the wedding.
There were many questions surrounding this wedding, from how the day would unfold to what the future will hold for this couple. One thing, however, is certain: the Royals are the subject of great global interest, and it does not appear that this attraction will ever wane.