Princess Diana’s death refuses to stop hanging over Britain. But Diana is an unavoidable talking point as the royal wedding approaches this week. While Prince William and Kate Middleton are the stars of this show, almost no one can avoid comparing them to another royal couple from 30 years ago. The bride from that mega-hyped royal wedding didn’t have a fairy tale ending, so all eyes are on whether Middleton will be any different.
Both Kate and Diana were unconventional royal brides, which made their nuptials all the more heartwarming at the time. But after the famed wedding of Diana and Prince Charles in 1981, the rest of the story got uglier by the year. It all culminated in 1997, when the pair divorced. Diana found another man – and both were killed while trying to escape the press.
Days later, Westminster Abbey was at the center of the world, as billions mourned the death of “The People’s Princess.” Diana didn’t get married at the Abbey, however, yet her son William will be wed there Friday, 14 years after he walked behind his mother’s coffin.
For Middleton, the memories of Diana are even more vivid, since she keeps getting brought up throughout the royal wedding coverage. Many brides have to put up with their mother-in-law, or their memory, throughout their married life – but this takes it to the extremes.
Even Camilla Parker-Bowles didn’t have to put up with it that much at her wedding, despite being Prince Charles’ second wife. By then, she had already survived endless comparisons to Diana, particularly since Bowles was “the other woman” for years beforehand.
Middleton has also had years of experience in the spotlight, given her long courtship and relationship with William. In contrast, Diana and Charles were officially together for a shorter time before getting married, and went through most of their difficulties afterward.
Given their example, and Middleton’s proven ability to handle this kind of relationship, there is hope that things will turn out differently for the new royal couple. However, even if William and Kate don’t work out, there are still long odds that one of them will be killed afterward. Yet when it comes to this family, and all those associated with it, anything can happen – and usually does.
Before her death, Diana seemed ready to move beyond the pain of her royal marriage until tragedy and the press intervened. Will such tragedy befall the latest commoner-turned-princess, or will a new legacy be forged? The first chapter in William and Kate’s marriage will come Friday, although the questions will still persist months and years after that.
Mirror- “Sir Elton John: Princess Diana would approve of Kate Middleton”
Sky News Australia- “Charles and Diana: the ruined fairytale”