Recent reports indicate that Prince William and Kate Middleton are back together. Earlier in the year, speculation was rife that an engagement between the two was imminent and like pre-engagement Diana, Kate was hounded by the media. When the news broke on April 13th, 2007 that they were no longer an item, it sent shock waves through the media and royal message boards. There were many theories on why they broke-up, some of the reasons included: she wasn't aristocratic, the media pressure was too much, or that William wanted to concentrate on his military career and didn't want to settle down. Some even went as far as to theorize that they never broke up at all. That this was a clever ruse on their part to buy some time.
Despite this break-up, the media interest in Kate hasn't ended. And it's becoming increasingly apparent that, regardless of how she feels about it, Kate Middleton isn't going to join the royal-ex files anytime soon. But while Kate is hot now, will this always be the case? Looking at the romantic histories of royalty in the past century, some royal exes have been more famous, in their day, than others: Lilly Langtry, Alice Keppel (great-grandmother of Camilla), the actress Sarah Berhardt, Freda Dudley Ward, Lady Furness, Koo Stark, Roddy Llewellyn, and Peter Townsend. Ultimately, if Kate ends up there, she's in good company.
Included in this group are the ex-girlfriends of Prince Charles. In his heyday, Prince Charles was considered to be one of the most eligible bachelors in the world. He only had to stand beside a woman, or have a woman stand beside him, in order to be linked with her. The names of those he supposedly sowed his wild oats with seemed to go on and on: Sabrina Guinness, Lady Jane Welleslley, Anna Wallace, Camilla Shand (now his second wife), Amanda Knatchbull, Susan George, and Lady Sarah Spencer (sister of Diana, Princess of Wales). But unlike those other women, when Lady Diana Spencer showed up on the scene, the media fell in love with her - and so began our sixteen year love affair with her too. His previous girlfriends were summarily relegated to obscurity. With the exception of Camilla, where are they now?
Also regarded as one of the most eligible bachelors in the world, William doesn't seem to have had as many girlfriends, so Kate may have the advantage or disadvantage of being the first serious one. Ever since pictures of her appeared walking down a runway modelling a diaphanous outfit, she was news. During his university days, William and Kate were able to keep their relationship somewhat private. Certainly there were articles praising her fashion sense, Hello Magazine profiles, and photogenic pictures of her looking demure, yet with a knowing smile, but it was tame in comparison to what happened once they graduated.
So are they back together? What is so special about Kate? Why is she any more remarkable for her ordinariness than we are? Dating/Having dated a prince helps. But trying to pinpoint exactly what makes Kate unique is like trying to define ourselves in one word. Regardless of her future with William, does she have the staying power to become more than a royal footnote?
Time will tell.
© Marilyn Braun 2007
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