With the wedding of Britain’s Prince William to Kate Middleton just around the corner, the pop culture world is abuzz with comparisons between the princess-to-be and William’s mother, the ever-popular, late Princess Diana. But Kate is no Diana. And for that she can thank her lucky stars. For as beautiful, as caring, and as popular as Diana was, her path was always a challenging one – one that eventually came to an early and most tragic end.
Born into British nobility, Diana was the third daughter of the 8th Earl Spencer. Spencer was a descendent of Charles II, and he himself served as equerry to King George VI and to Queen Elizabeth II. Diana’s maternal grandmother was lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. But it was a family that was tragically dysfunctional. Her parents divorced when Diana was seven, and Diana’s mother, Frances Shand Kydd, lost custody of the children, when her own mother testified that she was an unfit mother. Diana would grow up to be a poor student and prior to her engagement to Prince Charles, at the age of 19, she worked as a nanny.
Kate Middleton on the other hand, comes from decidedly common stock - working class laborers, miners, and the like. Her parents worked for British Airways, her mom - a flight attendant, dad - an airline officer. The Middletons rose to affluence when the online party supplies business they founded, in 1987, became very successful. In secondary school, Kate was a great athlete and an excellent student and went on to the University of St. Andrews to earn an Honors degree in the History of Art. It was here that she would meet William.
Diana may have come from nobility, but it was a nobility fraught with pain, neuroses, and dysfunction. And Diana embodied much of what she came from. It was in spite of her DNA that she became an icon of philanthropy and a force for change within the stagnant, British royal family.
Kate comes from self made people. She is grounded in good, English common sense. She is a strong, young woman who seems, in every way, on equal footing with William. Same age, similar education, true, long-term friendship, looks like everything they need to deeply respect each other. Unlike the situation with Diana, where Charles always had Camilla (Parker Bowles), his soul-mate, in the wings, for William, Kate is the soul mate. And she looks ready to take on whatever the journey brings. I have a feeling she won’t battle away with the Queen, like Diana did. No, Kate would probably get her way with the House of Windsor with far more skill and savvy. After all she is nearly 10 years older than Diana was when she entered the royal family. And a well educated Kate is probably less inclined to be driven by her feelings than the very emotional Diana.
Kate is no Diana, and she can thank her lucky stars for that!
So the million dollar question is: Will things work out for Kate and William? I think they have a much better chance than Diana and Charles ever did. But much remains to be seen.