Did Kate and Wills swap passion for happy ever after?
Although their body language shows they're very much a team, Chrissie Russell asks where's the fireworks?
Published 20/04/2011 | 05:00
Ah young love. The passion, the fireworks, the thunderbolts and raw sexual magnetism, there's nothing like a young couple in the first flush of romance -- and Prince William and his bride-to-be are nothing like a couple in the first flush of romance.
As historian David Starkey pointed out this week, the happy couple has displayed no traces of the Mills and Boon-style passion the public would love to see in their pre-wedding courtship, prompting the academic to brand the union a pragmatic rather than passionate bond.
In an era where we're so used to public displays of affection, it's easy to see where he's coming from. Russell Brand and Katy Perry now seem incapable of walking independently of each other and since getting wed never forego an opportunity to show the world just how very much in love they are with a kiss or cuddle.
By contrast, Wills and Kate's lukewarm, side-by-side stance, awkward embraces for photos and chaste pecks on the cheek are something of a damp squib.
The failure to perform for the cameras has set more than just David Starkey's tongue wagging. William is, after all, losing his looks and under pressure to choose a bride that complies with his family's standards. Kate has hung in for eight years and isn't a quitter -- could it be that, rather than fairytale romance, this is a modern marriage of convenience?
Relationship counsellor Lisa O'Hara from MCRS (mcrs.ie) thinks we could be letting our fascination with high-drama love stories get in the way of what makes for a lasting marriage.
She says: "The passion that couples often display when they first meet can be very intense, but it's impossible to sustain. It's exhausting and once it's gone it's what you're left with that matters."
Having been denied access to Wills and Kate's early days we'll never know if they got on like Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton behind closed doors, but the fact is they've weathered eight years and are still together.
This has undoubtedly made them a little more realistic about each other, tolerant and content to accept that companionship and comfort are what's important to them.
Lisa says: "People can go into marriages with unrealistic expectations but if they have been friends for a while then they know the person better and know better what to expect."
She adds: "Change is one of the biggest challenges to a relationship but after eight years together Kate and William have been through change and been able to handle it.
"The fact that they appreciate time with each other, feel comfortable with each other and are able to weather change together as a team is a strong foundation for marriage."
Moreover, public displays of passion can't always be trusted. Not a year has gone by without Jordan grabbing her husband's crotch on the red carpet (husband number one, Peter Andre), canoodling in a park (husband number two Alex Reid) or leaning backwards into a Hollywood kiss (man du jour Leandro Penna). But time has proved that often the greater the display of togetherness, the less likely it is to last.
"Anyone can put on a masquerade of passion with big gestures and shows of intimacy," says body language expert and author of Get The Edge -- How Simple Changes Will Transform Your Life, Geoff Beattie.
"But the unconscious rapport between Prince William and Kate is impossible to fake."
The untrained eye might think the couple look stilted but, according to Geoff, it's the almost imperceptible physical cues that suggest the pair's marriage will prove lasting.
He says: "They have an unconscious natural synchronicity, which is a nice sign that they are happy together. When she moves he instinctively moves soon after and vice versa in a very co-ordinated but unforced manner.
"There's also a lot of eye gazing, whereby they both look to each other for sup port while talking and show togetherness through nodding and not competing for attention."
They may not be passionate but the couple are certainly a team, more akin to Prince Charles and Camilla than Charles and Diana, and as the prince's first wedding showed, the romantic fairytale beginning didn't magic itself into a perfect marriage.
"Charles and Di used to always compete for attention," says Geoff. "They weren't happy to share the limelight as equals. She would use non-verbal means, like head cocking to attract attention away from Charles when he was speaking -- the pair were always in competition with each other."
Mirrored body language and comfortable teamwork may not get the paparazzi all hot under the collar but perhaps it's unfair to suggest that Kate and Wills' muted displays of affection suggest a calculated view towards entering into a life together.
It may not be the stuff that Hollywood movies are made of, but is a slow-burning functional marriage not better than a passionately dysfunctional one that more often than not ends up in no marriage at all?