It's been less than six months since our last Wedding of the Century, but don't worry, romance-lovers, we'll only have to wait six more for the next one: Prince William has asked longtime girlfriend Kate Middleton to marry him. The royal nuptials will take place next summer.
Naturally, British people are freaking out. Prime Minister David Cameron said there were cheers and "a great banging of the table" when he told the cabinet of the engagement. More than 1,400 people "liked" the news on the royal Facebook page 25 minutes after the story broke. The Queen says she's "absolutely delighted." So are the tabloids: the British press dubbed Middleton "Waity Katie" because she's held on for a whole nine years since the pair met at St. Andrews University in 2001.
- First Commoner to Marry Heir to Throne in 350 Years, Stephen Bates explains at the Guardian. The last lucky proletarian lady was Anne Hyde, who married the man who became King James II in 1660. But Anne was the daughter of Charles II's lord chancellor. Middleton's parents are nouveau riche, having made their money selling kids' party favors. "Her mother, Carole, was formerly a British Airways flight attendant – hence the snobbish jibes of some royal hangers-on about 'doors to manual' – and her father, Michael, also once worked for BA as a dispatcher... But it is the family business Party Pieces... which founded the family's wealth and gave their daughter entry into higher social circles."
- British Ladies Not Heartbroken, according to a Guardian poll of readers. Only 13.6 percent said they were sad the prince is now off the market.
- 'Waity Katie' Is Creepy, Melissa McEwan writes at Shakesville. Middleton "has never done a press interview or been caught on camera talking about their relationship. 'She's never spoken a word in public,' is the phrase I keep seeing. ... An article I read about a week ago noted breathlessly that the British public does not even know what her voice sounds like. This, I have heard and read over and over, is a most impressive thing. And, more than that, it is evidence of her suitability to be William's Wife. I must make clear that this admiration for Ms. Middleton's silence is not being framed as the sensible choice of a young woman who is evidently press-savvy and prefers her privacy." People aren't impressed that she's independent and clever enough to evade the celebrity press, McEwan writes. They think she's making all the right moves to get William to marry her. The message is: "Good Girls are civil and deferential and they don't make a fuss."
- Bad Move, Kate, Bonnie Fuller writes at The Huffington Post. As engagement rumors circulated this summer, Fuller advised Middleton not to say yes if William popped the question. "William and the royals should be begging Kate to marry into their gene pool. They NEED her non-royal genes to add some genetic diversity and brains into their too-tight family. It was only because Prince Charles roped in the gorgeous, savvy and warm-hearted Lady Diana Spencer that he ended up with such tall good-lookers as sons." But, "Kate should run for the hills while she still has a chance. I believe she does love William and that's why she's waited, but she's also no doubt in love with the fairytale that she'll be carried away by her real life prince."
- Class Warfare, the Guardian's Barbara Ellen notes. Middleton has gotten brutal treatment--and that awful nickname--by the press because her family "must be a bunch of commoner upstarts. Ergo, Kate should be made to wait or even fail completely. The middle-class girl from Berkshire must atone for her social-climbing sins. This attitude also abounds in the ordinary world. When it comes to whom they choose to love, it's as if women have to stay within precise, class-based cum financial boundaries or they'll be instantly lumbered with the gold-digger tag. With the royals, this attitude is deafening, but why? These days, it's a farce if Waity Katie, or anyone, should be made to feel "not good enough" for one of the most dysfunctional families in Britain. Indeed, what kind of marital hell awaits Middleton chez Windsor?"
- Middleton Is the Best William Can Do, Nadine Jolie argues at Taki's Magazine. To be a royal means great parties, sure, but also crushing 24-hour duties. "During his infamous break from Kate in 2007, Prince William saw a succession of other women, but quickly found that those outside his social circle (the good-time gals he met at bars and clubs) would not only never fit in, but were often all too eager to sell their stories to tabloids... Those within his circle, meanwhile—well-bred, moneyed English beauties like Arabella Musgrave, Isabella Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe and Olivia Hunt—have learned from Princess Diana’s legacy... give up an already-abundant life for stifling duty, no privacy and the chance to briefly wear a heavy crown in Westminster Abbey? No, thanks." Middleton, however, has proven to be both loyal and willing to play the game.