Pippa Middleton’s engagement to wildly wealthy hedge manager James Matthews is no doubt a source of great delight to the rest of the socially mobile Middleton clan, but will it leave poor Kate wondering just how sweet life could be outside of the royal family’s gilded cage?
Kate Middleton may be married to the future King of England and live a life of great privilege, with an existence cushioned by the velvet cushions of excessive luxury, but the trappings of such a life come at a cost.
And that cost is being the property of the Great British public. The Duchess of Cambridge is often torn like an immaculately attired rag doll between the savage dogs of public opinion and regal duty.
When not residing like a nervous recluse in the sleepy and staid environs of Anmer Hall, wondering what shade of outfit to wear next, Kate can be seen prancing, preening, and posturing in the fierce fluorescent glare of the spotlight, tense, taut, and wondering what harsh criticism will be thrown her way next from the ever-watchful eye of the tax-paying public.
The price of Kate’s every outfit is discussed in endless articles. As is her impressively splendid habit of wearing the same dress more than once. It may sound like applause, but really it’s a gentle warning from the baying mob that, “If you even dare to wear nothing but Gucci and Versace and get ideas above your station, your days are numbered, Katie dearest.”
Kate’s every holiday, every outing, every kitchen refurbishment, has to be justified and recorded for the public to lazily scrutinize. Because lest we forget, Kate was once one of their own — a lowly commoner.
The Duchess may now be a royal, but the status, inherited wealth, and privileged position which that entails, mean one has to live by an exemplary code of conduct which the “bundled and botched” can point at and go, “What a lady! Such class!”
The myth that the royals are noble creatures whom we should all aspire to be like is pure masquerade, but it’s an illusion that the Great British public and large swathes of the rest of the world buy into.
The royals’ true function in a more ‘civilized’ age where might doesn’t always make right is purely a symbolic one. In a sense, they are not required to be individuals in their own right, but flesh and blood embodiments of all that is great and good and enlightened and elevated in the eyes of the flag-waving hordes.
Is it any wonder, then, that like a bird who has had its wings clipped, Kate must sometimes peer out of her Norfolk cage with big sorrowful eyes at the life of unbounded freedom that her perpetually gleeful little sister, Pippa, appears to lead.
Now that her wild days of photobombing royal weddings with her butt, hanging about with a gang of gun-toting French playboys, gorging on whale flesh, and writing books about how to iron the perfect Autumn leaf for a table decoration are behind us, Pippa Middleton has announced she’s getting hitched to City financier James Matthews, who is so rich he could buy a country and still have a little left over to purchase a diamond mine or two.
Five star luxury is the name of the game for Pippa and James as they jet off into an existence free of responsibility, duty, and the weight of public expectation. Above all, neither of them will have to face the indignity of being paraded in public and being forced to shake hands with poor people.
No matter how rare the species or exotic the plumage, a bird in a cage is still a bird in a cage.
(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)