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The Thing About Princesses

April 29th, 2011 | 3 min read

By Cate MacDonald

I looked through a blog today called “Kate Middleton for the Win,” which was basically a bunch of pictures of Miss Middleton leading her glamorous post-engagement life, captioned with what the author imagines she might be thinking about her own fabulousness, or about the particular scene she finds herself in, whether it be christening a boat with champagne, wearing large hats, or accepting flowers from the huddled masses. It sounds mean-spirited, but it isn’t really, it’s merely observing the strange phenomenon that happens when a young lady is suddenly declared “Royal.”

Kate has been paparazzi fodder for years, and yet now her movements are even more closely tracked, watched, and adored. As a future princess of England, her presence at events is an honor, her face is on a stamp, her ring represents a former princess loved and lost, and her new life as a figurehead, her ability to continue to exist and wave and smile at her people, is of national importance.

Tomorrow morning (or, by the time this posts, this morning), she will be married in front of Kings and Queens from across the world, into a family line people get doctoral degrees studying about. She will occupy the place of honor down a center aisle at one of the most famous churches in the world, while the western world watches her marry her Prince.

I was surprised by my interest in The Royal Wedding (and by interest I mean I thought about it while sitting on the couch and then decided to write this). As I pondered the wedding in my internet-less, TV-less cocoon of a home, I couldn’t feed my wonderings with new information, so I was left to think about how it effects me personally. And of course the answer is it doesn’t. So why do I care? Because I do care, that much is unavoidable. There is something about a royal wedding that captures my imagination.

When my parents first got cable in their home (which happened about a year ago), I got into the habit of watching terrible bridal reality television with my sisters when I’d visit on weekends. The shows were inevitably chock full of bitching bratty brides wanting to look “perfect” on “their” day. They would whine about cake, flowers, hair, venues, and, most important of all the things to complain about, THEIR DRESS, the perfect dress that would make them feel like a perfect princess.

I’ve never related to the brides on these sorts of shows. It is very easy to lord it over them and their terrible priorities (and manners), and though it always seemed that they were focusing on all the wrong things, I am starting to wonder if maybe we are captured by the same idea, an idea that they’re just really bad at identifying and pursuing.

Because I think there really is something especially beautiful about a princess on her wedding day, something that I hope would be imbued to any bride, but it isn’t the fancy dress, the incredible flowers, or the lovely church.

Despite the crumbling of much of the English Royal family’s influence and importance, in this case, their traditions have remained grand. Kate has been declared worthy of marriage to a Prince by an official declaration by the Queen. She will be married by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who says he’s been meeting the couple privately and will stand as a life long protector and guide to their marriage. She will declare in front of the entire world life-long fidelity and faithfulness to Prince William, and therefore to the country he will someday head. She has sacrificed any chance at a private life in order to be a part of something much bigger.

There are very few times in an average women’s life when she gets to be that important, but her wedding day is a rare exception. With the decision to be married, every women gets the opportunity to make a declaration of great importance, a swearing of life-long loyalty to the one she loves, committing to a new family, and new way of life. On her wedding day she and her new husband are the guests of honor whose presence is the reason everyone is gathered. She is, for the day, like a princess, not because she’s been dressed up to look pretty and gets to have her every whim, but because she is making a covenantal commitment at the center of her community’s eye. She will be bestowed with flowers and gifts because she has done what less and less are willing to do; she has given her life to another for the sake of her God, herself, her community, and him. This is regal behavior if ever there was such a thing, even if it doesn’t come with a good hat or the ability to christen boats. And this, I think (though I could certainly be wrong), is why princesses still matter. They still represent the power, sacrifice, and place of honor a young woman can hold when she gives her life away.

And they’re so pretty too.