News / Europe

Privilege and Pressure: A Profile of the Royal Romance

Britain's Prince William and his fiancee Kate Middleton, leave the New Zealand High Commission, in London, on February 25, 2011 (file photo)
Britain's Prince William and his fiancee Kate Middleton, leave the New Zealand High Commission, in London, on February 25, 2011 (file photo)
Henry Ridgwell

There are just days to go until British royal Prince William weds Catherine Middleton on April 29, in a ceremony that is expected to be watched by billions around the world. Observers have praised the future princess as a glamorous new face for the royal family. While Catherine’s journey to the palace has not always been smooth, she now faces a life of extraordinary privilege played out in the world’s spotlight.



In November last year, Prince William and Catherine Middleton appeared in front of the cameras to announce their engagement. The bride-to-be answered one reporter’s question on why it had taken so long.

"Obviously we have been going out a long time, and we had spoken about our future, and it just seemed a natural step for both of us," Middleton explained.

How they met

The history of the royal couple goes back nearly 10 years - to the Scottish town of St. Andrews, where the prince began university in 2001.  It was there, protected from media intrusion, that he met fellow student Kate Middleton.

Observers speculate that Cupid’s arrow struck when William saw Kate modeling a see-through dress at a fashion show. They became friends and shared a house with other students. Exactly when they began dating is unclear, but Linda Cunningham, the owner of a local café who claims William wooed his future bride over coffee and cake, says she had early suspicions.

"She used to come in with his friends, and he would be here with his friends," recalled Cunningham. "So they would be in the building together, but not necessarily sitting together. And then when we heard there was something going on between them, we kind of put two-and-two together."

Post-graduation life

After graduation, the couple once again entered the glare of the world’s media. That reached a peak in 2007 when William broke off the relationship for several months.

The royal family has long had a fractious relationship with the press. William’s mother, Princess Diana was killed in a car crash in 1997 while being pursued by photographers on motorbikes. He was determined to protect Kate from the media scrutiny his mother endured.
Royal lawyers warned off paparazzi who got too close.

The engagement

The couple got back together, and in October 2010, William proposed while on holiday in Kenya - with the engagement ring of his late mother.

Kate - or Princess Catherine as she will be known after the wedding - is about to enter a world known only to a privileged few.

"Could she have predicted it 10 years ago I wonder? I would guess not," said Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty, a magazine devoted to the royal family. "Yes, there were break-ups in the royal romance but they got back together again and they are clearly stronger than ever. I would imagine that Kate has many surreal moments and will continue to have for many years."

Future challenges

Kate’s biggest challenge will be the inevitable comparisons with Princess Diana.
She was just 20 when she married Prince Charles. The nation and much of the world were captivated.

Middleton was raised in a wealthy family. Her parents are self-made millionaires who run a party accessories website from their home west of London. Kate’s mother used to be an air hostess and traces her family back to coal miners and butchers.

In a country obsessed with class, much has been made of the fact that a commoner is marrying royalty.

Little of Majesty magazine says that will benefit the royal family.

"Kate’s a breath of fresh air. You could say that there hasn’t been any glamour, dare I say it, in the British royal family for a while and we’re just getting a huge injection of that," Little said.

William has long been used to the so-called ‘goldfish bowl’ of life as a royal prince.
For Middleton, a journey of rarefied privilege and pressure lies ahead - starting with the wedding itself.

* For more information about the Royal Wedding, visit our Special Report page

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces a Chaotic World and the Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid