Wednesday 17 November 2010
Julie Burchill: For Kate's sake, let's hope her prince is nothing like his dad
Whatever "in love" means. Was I the only loyal subject who wanted Prince William to answer with this, if the interviewer, Tom Bradby, had been brave/bolshy enough to ask him if he was in love with Kate Middleton, on the occasion of their engagement interview?
It's a measure of how entirely bored I am with the Windsors that I, formerly the Princess of Wales' greatest cheerleader (The People's Princess – that was mine, years before Blair used it at Campbell's behest!), could only imagine my interest being piqued this time around if Diana's son repeated the creepy line which his worthless, hypocritical father came out with all those years ago when asked if he was in love with his radiant young fiancée, Diana Spencer.
No such luck. Instead we got the verbal equivalent of treading water from a pair of attractive youngsters who came across as the best of the bunch from Blind Date. Waity Katie's nine-year war of attrition has finally been won; ever since her parents proved themselves willing and able to slaughter a beautiful animal in cold blood, it was only a matter of time till the Munsters asked them to join forces.
They seemed genuinely to be "mates", in that particularly British way young lovers often are here, and which other nationalities just don't get, which no one could have said about the prince's parents. And to be fair, they came across as far less loathsome than all the politicians queueing up to send their congrats so that we'll think we were mistaken to believe that they're cruel, cold-hearted, power-mad automatons. David Cameron was said to have banged the Cabinet table in sheer molten joy, which made me want to assassinate him, and Ed Miliband – who's such a romantic that he couldn't be arsed to put his name on his son's birth certificate – sounded as though he was trying out for a cushy billet at Mills & Boon. Mills & Band, he could call his political sub-genre.
Unlike the cute but dorky teenage Diana, Kate is fantastically well-groomed and gorgeously put-together; if only she'd aimed a little higher, she'd have made a top-flight air stewardess. Interestingly, considering her reputation for passivity, she appears to be an equal, at least, in the relationship. He said they had "a really good laugh"; when asked if she had really had a poster of the Prince on her bedroom wall at university, she answered: "He wishes! No, it was the Levi's guy."
The Prince started to tell a rambling anecdote about his poor cooking skills when he and Kate had first been housemates at St Andrews. "Slightly awkward for the other flatmates?" Tom Bradby interrupted. William somewhat charmingly took this as a reference to his cooking skills – "No, they were quite used to me catching things on fire" – before Bradby smarmed in to point out that he'd been talking about how the other housemates must have felt like a regular bunch of Looky-Lous perving over their blossoming affair.
They are without doubt a deeply modern couple: none of the grim Gothic virginity vows that Diana's family saw fit to make public so shockingly back in the bad old days – and there was something profoundly cleansing, considering the Wales's tradition of public virtue and private vice, about their casual references to their long-term cohabitation. You can't tell which one is The Prize, and in a romantic relationship, that's always a good sign.
So for the sake of this beautiful young woman with her whole life before her (and who, with her chav blood and her Jewish blood, I just can't help believing is essentially marrying beneath her by throwing in her lot with the weirdest clan this side of the Addams Family), let us hope that her Prince has more of his mother than his father in him. If he does, they may well live happily ever after. If he doesn't, we may be witnessing the opening act of yet another doomed fairytale. Diana, the bride at every royal funeral and the mourner at every royal wedding, was present in more than just the engagement ring which sat so heavily on the hand of this young woman who must now walk a mile in her bloodied shoes, on a road leading who knows where.
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