Why William and Kate are already off to a good start
As the happy couple announce their engagement, Joe O'Shea asks if they will fare better than Charles and Diana
Published 17/11/2010 | 05:00
After decades of heartbreak, scandal and marital dysfunction, will William and Kate be the Royal couple who finally get it right and save the Windsors?
There is certainly a lot more riding on this wedding than just the happiness of two people.
British Prime Minister David Cameron is already talking about a "great day of national celebration" to lift his country in difficult times.
The British Royal family will be hoping the feelgood factor strikes closer to home with the next generation of Royals atoning, in the public eye at least, for the failures and fiascos that have gone before.
And the Queen and Prince Philip can be optimistic that their grandchild and second-in-line to the throne will succeed where his father failed before him.
Where Charles was prodded into finding a suitable young girl with the right aristocratic background, his son William has enjoyed a long and stable relationship with the "commoner" he first met at university.
Smart, worldly and with at least eight years experience in being in the public eye, Kate Middleton has very little in common with Diana, the shy pre-school assistant who was barely out of her teens when she became engaged to Prince Charles in February 1981.
While Diana was thrust, alone, and with virtually no mentoring, before the world's media, Kate Middleton is, at 28, an intelligent, independent young woman who understands the fame game.
And unlike the young Diana, Middleton has shown herself to be an equal partner in a royal relationship.
When the couple split up in April 2007, her friends said that Kate had become exasperated with William's playboy lifestyle and the amount of time he was devoting to his career in the military.
The final straw for Kate had been the stories of riotous nights in the Officers' Mess at Bovington Camp in Dorset, where William was training to be a troop commander with the Blues and Royals regiment, while she was alone in London.
Kate proved herself to be a modern girl who was not prepared to put up with being neglected, even if it was at the hands of a handsome prince.
The couple did reunite later in 2007 but Kate, whose father made a large personal fortune in mail-order sales and whose mother was once an air stewardess, had to put up with some snide remarks about her commoner background (some of which were rumoured to have come from Buckingham Palace).
Royal watchers say she has never apologised for or disowned her 'ordinary' background.
And Kate has refused to be slighted or bullied by the Royal family and their flunkies, a fate which befell Diana almost from the start of her doomed marriage to Prince Charles.
Kate has also handled herself almost perfectly with the British media, resorting to the lawyers when she feels they are getting too close but preferring to use charm and common sense where possible.
Both Kate and William and the Royal family have learned from the PR disasters that occurred during the failed marriages of Charles and Diana and Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew.
Nobody can guarantee that this Royal wedding will be long, happy and fruitful. But there should be little talk of "fairytales" as we had with Charles and Diana and more emphasis on a thoroughly modern Royal partnership between two intelligent and worldly adults who have already been together for almost a decade.
William and Kate could provide the Windsors with the X-factor that has been so absent from the institution for far too long.
And if the palace flunkies can just keep Prince Harry away from the champagne and the Royal bridesmaids, it should all go off swimmingly well.