Kate and Wills home after glittering American tour
The world's favourite royals are back from their travels in Canada and the USA. But are the adoring fans and designer dresses a step in the wrong direction?
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, or as we more fondly know them 'Kate 'n' Wills', returned from their 11 day tour of North America on Monday. They took in Canada and California, winning huge crowds as well as international press adoration for their down-to-earth, relaxed manners.
The couple's first overseas tour featured many informal events. Catherine and William competed against each other in a dragon boat race, Prince William tried his hand at street hockey, and the young royals donned cowboy hats and jeans to attend the Calgary rodeo.
Their image as 'the people's royals' was boosted by two very important displays of affection. Six-year-old cancer sufferer Diamond Marshall initiated the first; so excited was she to meet a real-life princess, the little girl reached up and hugged Kate. The second tender moment was a brief embrace by Kate and Wills themselves. Whilst it was normal behaviour for a young couple, it is out of step with traditional royal reserve.
Perhaps the only thing more commented on by the world's media was Kate's clothes. Her 37 outfits were examined in detail for their style, size and symbolism. The pair's glamour was most obvious when, at an event filled with Hollywood's glitterati, from J-Lo to Tom Hanks, it was the newlyweds who were the star attraction.
All this glitz is a far cry from the dutiful world of Prince William's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, who treads a more discreet line. Still working in her ninth decade, the monarch of 16 states and patron of over 600 charities spent her early years of marriage, before her coronation, living quietly in Malta, where her husband Prince Philip was based as a Royal Navy officer. Perhaps they have studied 'grannie's' example – the Duke and Duchess announced yesterday that they plan to keep a lower profile from now on, and that the Queen 'should be in the spotlight' in the lead up to her Diamond Jubilee next year.
Media versus mystique
The Queen was widely criticised for withdrawing from view after Princess Diana's death. So is a media-friendly monarchy with the 'common touch' what this country wants? The public enthusiasm for these young lovers who met at university and later became flatmates shows the thirst for royals who have experiences we can relate to.
But in courting public approval, has something been lost? There is a certain mystique that surrounds the Queen, a woman so often described as wise and graceful, adjectives that don't abound in modern celebrity. Is a little distance desirable in order to preserve a feeling of hierarchy, maintaining the world's greatest monarchy as a truly majestic institution?
- Should we get rid of the monarchy?
- Do you think that Kate and Wills' popularity is tarnishing the elite image of the monarchy? Do you think this had already happened?
- Create a poster comparing pictures of the Queen, and Kate and Wills at the same ages. Label it with the differences you notice.
- Kate and Wills are back from tour. You are their press relations adviser, responsible for managing their public image. Write a page-long memo recommending how they should act now and why.
Some People Say...
“Royalty is outdated, nothing Wills and Kate do can change that.”
What do you think?
Q & A
- So are they the UK's first popular royals?
- Princess Diana was the original 'People's Princess'. Heavily involved in charitable causes, she was loved the world over for her perceived humanity and generosity as well as her youth and beauty.
- How did that work out?
- Arguably her adoration contributed to her death. Pursued by the media, she died in a car crash in Paris in 1997. Questions remain as to whether the cause was the paparazzi chasing her car, or the driver being drunk.
- And why was the Queen criticised?
- The Queen remained in her country house in order to protect Diana's sons Princes William and Harry from the media and to grieve privately. She initially gave no public statement, and sticking to protocol, would not fly the Royal Standard (flag) at half-mast. This was seen as a lack of compassion.
- Dragon boat
- A long, narrow, canoe-style boat traditional in China, paddled by large groups of people, which often has a dragon head carved on the front, and a tail at the back. Racing dragon boats has been practised in China for over 20 centuries, and is now an international sport.
- A competition where cowboys show their skill at activities such as riding bucking broncos or lassoing cows.
- Diamond Jubilee
- A 60-year anniversary. The Queen will be celebrating 60 years on the throne in 2012.
- Princess Diana's death
- On 31st August 1991, Princess Diana died in a car crash along with her boyfriend Dodi Fayed. The public expression of grief was unprecedented: over a million bouquets were laid outside her home, Kensington Palace, and over three million lined the route of her funeral precession. Like the death of Beatle John Lenon, most adults can tell you where they were when they heard that Princess Diana died.