This Sunday, April 29, marks the one-year wedding anniversary of Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The couple have successfully reinvigorated public interest in the British monarchy, all the while managing to remain surprisingly relatable to us average folk. They order take-out pizza! And walk their dog! And grocery shop! And wear jeans!
Rather than simply reflecting on the past year of their lives together and all they've accomplished, wouldn't it be even more interesting to see how their first year as newlyweds compares to that of Prince Charles and Lady Diana -- and more specifically, how Kate's and Diana's transitions to royalty compare? We think so.
Charles and Diana were wed in St. Paul's Cathedral, as it offered more seating than Westminster Abbey, where Will and Kate were wed. In both cases, crowds of well-wishers filled the streets in hopes of catching a glimpse of the royal couple-- an estimated one million for Will and Kate's wedding and 600,000 for Charles and Diana's. The global television viewership broke records, with Charles and Diana's wedding reaching an estimated 750 million people worldwide and Will and Kate's ceremony upping the ante significantly with approximately two billion.
Both brides married in ivory and lace dresses made by young British designers -- Kate's long-sleeved, much-copied dress by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen and Diana's voluminous gown by David and Elizabeth Emmanuel.
As for the ceremonies, 1,900 guests attended Will and Kate's, which went off without a hitch. Charles and Diana's ceremony was a much larger affair, with a 3,500-person congregation and a double case of the nerves. Both man and wife flubbed different parts of their vows that day -- Diana accidentally called Charles, "Philip Charles Arthur George", rather than "Charles Philip Arthur George", and Charles took it upon himself to say "thy goods" instead of "my worldly goods". With an audience of close to one billion, can you really blame them?
Both wedding ceremonies were followed by the traditional first public kiss as husband and wife on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, only Will and Kate weren't satisfied with just one. They pleased the crowd of onlookers with a second kiss a few minutes later.
Diana and Charles wasted no time before starting a family, with their first child William born a mere 11 months after the couple's wedding. Will and Kate, on the other hand, have yet to announce a pregnancy, despite much public speculation. In fact, a charity event last week where Will held a newborn baby boy and Kate stroked his head adoringly fueled the fire and got the Brits talking.
Kate and Diana are both style icons in their own right, both with a classic, feminine look, and a love for British designers that's influenced generations of women on a global scale. The best part: they know when to dress up and they're not afraid to kick back in jeans and a t-shirt.
While Diana was known for auctioning off many of her dresses in support of her favourite charities, the rise of the Internet and online shopping has given way to a different kind of money-making, but not for charities: a relentless craze of "copy-Kates", who insist on owning every item of clothing the Duchess of Cambridge wears, if not a reasonable facsimile that's produced to meet the expected demand. Let's call it an economic stimulus for the fashion industry.
Last May, the newlywed wore a £175 nude bandage dress from British retailer Reiss to meet the Obamas, reports the UK Mirror. Sure enough, the Reiss website crashed as soon as the news got out. Her favourite LK Bennett pumps have become one of the brand's top sellers. Coral jeans, wrap dress, trench coat -- literally, she wears something and it's sold out the next day. And it's only been a year!
Among the things Diana, the "People's Princess", was best known for, including her tumultuous marriage, kindness and beauty, her philanthropic efforts are where she really made her mark on the world. She truly used her high profile as a means to speak out about issues of importance to her, while raising awareness and funds for a variety of charitable causes, including cancer, child illnesses, homelessness, HIV/AIDS and Leprosy, to name only a few. The month following her wedding, she had already set up a trust in her name so she could donate her money to others. After having her children, she began a long string of humanitarian trips abroad, and was famously photographed holding the hand of an AIDS patient and crossing an Angolan minefield.
During Kate's first year as part of the royal family, there hasn't been enough time for the newlywed to really get her feet wet in the charitable arena, but she's definitely acknowledged the importance of it and made a concerted effort to figure out which charities to focus on. Her spokesperson told the Huffington Post back in September that she'd like "to get to know a number of charitable and other causes better, so she can make well-informed decisions about her future role. The duchess plans to meet a wide range of people and make private visits."
Kate has been mindful of Diana's causes and has taken some steps in the charitable regard, reports the Washington Post. She's been snapped hugging cancer patients and doing crafts with children, and she's already been recognized for her exceptional dedication to her work, her friendliness and approachability.
First Public Address
Both Diana and Kate made their first public address within year one of marriage -- Kate's, just last month at the East Anglias' Children's Hospices in Ipswich, England. Diana's short speech was conducted in a Grand Chamber in Wales, and to make it even more nerve-wracking, Diana spoke partially in Welsh, reports MSNBC. She spoke quickly and seemed quite nervous.
Kate's speech, in a more relaxed setting, was spoken slowly, confidently and thoughtfully. She stumbled with her words only once, but it was clear that she had practiced for this and was mentored well.
Royal Family Transition
It is common knowledge that Princess Diana had a very difficult transition into the royal family, feeling isolated and unsupported much of the time. In contrast, Kate seems to have been fully embraced by the royals and given sufficient guidance and mentoring to help her navigate her new role, reports the Vancouver Sun. Since the marriage of Diana and Charles didn't last, it is believed that the royal family really wants William and Kate's marriage to work, which is why everyone is doing their part to ensure Kate is happy and supported, especially while William is away.
There's also something to be said for the fact that Diana was only 20 years old when she married Prince Charles, and Kate was 29. Perhaps the extra life experience helped better prepare Kate for this tremendous responsibility.
Thus far, she appears to be comfortable and enthused about her new life, but only time will tell if she can handle it long-term.