After eight long years wandering in the 'will he or won't he' wilderness the wait is finally over for Kate and indeed for all of us. Prince William and Kate Middleton are engaged and will marry in London in the spring or summer of next year, Clarence House announced yesterday. It will be bang on thirty years, interestingly enough, since William's parents Charles and Diana were world famously wed in 1981 and his and Kate's already furiously hyped wedding is guaranteed to be the biggest royal event since, generating the same sort of global fixation.
Yes, now that Wills has finally seen fit to pop the question - surprisingly stylishly whilst on a luxury safari holiday in Kenya last month after carrying the very large ring that once belonged to his mother in his rucksack for three weeks - Waity Katy is instantly transformed from a mere girlfriend in mortal danger of becoming a ridiculous figure into a proper princess in waiting. Just in the nick of time too. Presumably this means that we, their loyal subjects, should try and forget the awful nickname at the same time as looking forward to a moratorium on the plethora of Waity Katy articles that have plagued our national press what seemed like every five minutes for, um, EVER and prepare ourselves, watch this space, for a new moniker and infinitely more flattering perception.
It's about time too, on both fronts: hers and ours. Everyone loves a wedding after all and if you can manage to combine this with loving the Royals then s/s 2011 promises to be off the chart in the excitement stakes. It's fair to say that wedding-loving Royalists are in for a massive treat, huge. Imagine the bunting, the commemorative tea towels, the mugs, the pomp, the ceremony, the street parties, the patriotism and general bonhomie, the eyes of the world fixed upon us Brits and our celebrations, not to mention shed loads of opportunities to make boozy toasts to the happy couple.
Not only will it apparently help lift the nation out of our post-recession gloom and increase tourism (they are good at that, the Royals), this lovely news will also shine like a beacon of hope for all those girls who have been with their boyfriends a similarly long time and are busy playing waiting games of their very own, albeit not in the pages of Grazia et al. I've known a few of them and I bet you know a lot more, at the tail ends of long relationships still holding out for a proposal after far too many years spent casually 'going out' with the significant men in their lives whilst simultaneously pretending that the lack of any concrete commitment from him didn't bother them in the slightest.
Actually, ironically, in my experience it is often a wedding (someone else's) that causes the eventual demise of such relationships. The girl in question freaks out at being invited to yet another friend's wedding, friends who may have got together at the same time as our now not-so-happy couple or (much, much worse) years afterwards, and then the boy digs his heels in ever further, the resultant nagging, nudging, prodding and poking therefore signing the death warrant of the proposal, maybe before he's even really had a chance to consider it. Ho hum. Not everyone's like this of course, sometimes good things do come to those who wait. Just look at Kate. She's been photographed attending loads of weddings this year and now she's got her own to look forward to. Dreams do come true, evidently.
The couple, both 28, met when they were twenty and studying history of art at St Andrews University. A 2004 skiing holiday in Klosters exposed their relationship and generated endless speculation about where it was going but William famously, and rather un-chivalrously I always thought, stated, 'I don't want to marry until I'm at least 28 – or maybe 30.' In June this year, just before his 28th birthday, William took this statement a step further, polishing it up with: 'I was young, I'd had a few drinks. What can I say? I wish I'd kept my big mouth shut.'
I suppose the charitable way to read these comments is to look at them, particularly the latest one, as a super impressive double bluff, especially considering that ramping up the surprise factor can't be easy when photographers are onto your every move and you're trying to plan a proposal. But I remember wincing when I read them at the time. It's just not that sensitive, is it? Combined with the endless negative press, awful comments about her family and relentless analysis of her reticence I do wonder why William didn't just get on with it a hell of a lot earlier. Like maybe four years ago would have been good. Because when you know you know, right? A proposal was the only sure fire obvious way of turning the patronising tide, halting the snide remarks and bitchy asides in their tracks, allowing Kate to be known for something other than her extraordinary queuing powers, even if she was at the head of it.
David Cameron appeared outside No.10 yesterday and said this: 'I spoke to Prince William a few moments ago and passed on my congratulations. He was obviously extremely excited about the news and thrilled about what lies in store. It was wonderful to have that word with him and pass on my best wishes.' It is, of course, very exciting news but would it have been more exciting if it had happened a few years ago? I can't help but think so.
Maybe William's reticence stems from a fear of rushing into things like his father and mother did, with historically disastrous results. Either way, thirty years down the line, one thing's for sure: no one could possibly accuse him of being the fool who rushed into anything, quite the reverse. They both looked gorgeous in their interview last night and with Diana's rock glistening on Kate's finger it struck me that Kate is well on her way to becoming the People's Princess Mark II. This is, of course, a much nicer title than 'Waity Katy' but has some seriously scary connotations. Here's hoping it works out a hell of a lot better second time around and that William's cautiousness pays off – congrats!
By: Sara Lawrence