Today marks the 30 year anniversary of one of the most celebrated and ultimately disastrous marriages in recent memory. On July 29, 1981, Prince Charles of Wales wed the young Lady Diana Spencer, soon to become the world’s darling as the public eye watched her come into her own. She become a fashion plate, charity patroness, devoted mother, and errant bride, all while the media documented her struggle with the crown that tied her to a secretive and stiffly traditional family.
Recently, the world witnessed another of the royal family’s unions, and one that has hopefully been set up for greater success. It’s almost unnecessary to restate that this past April’s nuptials were between Prince William and Catherine Middleton, or to say that all the fairytale pomp and grandeur made many young women want to ask where they could get a fairy godmother as skilled as Kate’s.
While both weddings were highly anticipated and joyfully celebrated by anglophiles worldwide, I think there are a few factors about this most recent marriage that lend it a greater chance of succeeding where that of William’s parents did not.
William and Catherine are significantly closer in age.
Charles was advised by a family friend that “for a wife he should choose a suitable, attractive, and sweet-charactered girl before she has met anyone else she might fall for... It is disturbing for women to have experiences if they have to remain on a pedestal after marriage.” It’s no surprise then that at the time of their wedding, Charles was about 30, and Diana a very young 20.
Conversely, William and Catherine are only a few months apart in age, 28 and 29 respectively at the time of their wedding.
The newlyweds had a much longer courtship.
The wooing of Diana took Prince Charles all of a year, whereas William and Catherine have been together for nearly 10 years. They’ve had the time to get to know one another and for Kate to get to know the royal family.
Catherine seems more willing to mix with the royal family.
Despite having been raised in a noble family, Diana seemed to chafe under the watchful eye and strict expectations of the royal family, particularly that of the Queen. Catherine, on the other hand, has voluntarily attended several royal events that William could not, allowing her time to get to know her in-laws and, perhaps most importantly, vice versa.
Wills and Kate appear to actually love each other.
This is clearly the most essential factor - Charles was accused by family and friends of choosing Diana as his bride simply because she fit a list of qualifications. Catherine, on the other hand, might fit fewer of those criteria, but time has shown that she and William are not only compatible but care for each other very much.
Regardless, while no one could ever replace her, the new Di has been cast, and now we’ll just have to wait and hope for the best.