More than 2 billion people — that’s right, “Billion” with a “B” — are expected to watch this week’s Royal Wedding as Britain’s heir to the throne Prince William, 28, says “I do” to his college sweetheart Kate Middleton, 29.
The two billion people tuning in represent roughly one-third of the world’s population — or every man, woman and child in the United States, China, Brazil, Russia and Japan combined.
But why do people care so much? At its core, the William and Kate story is a classic fairytale: the future king falls in love with a common girl. Bucking tradition, the handsome prince proposes despite the fact that it’s been almost 350 years since the last time a commoner married a future king.
Kate’s father is a former airline pilot, her mother is a former airline stewardess. Kate, the oldest of three, grew up as a normal child: she majored in art history and played intramural sports. She’s pretty, but not in the exotic, high-cheekbones, unattainable Angelina Jolie sense. Her face resembles the girl-next-door: 5’10” with brunette hair, clear skin and cute dimples. She’s not a supermodel or a genius or an Oscar-nominated star. She’s incredibly human. She reminds us of ourselves. When we see Kate marry the future king, we think to ourselves: “that could be me.”
As E! Online put it:
William and Kate are going to re-enact your favorite childhood fairy tale, Cinderella.
But why did William — who could have his choice of the world’s most beautiful women — fall for Kate? She seems to possess some of the same traits I’ve seen in other friends who have snagged highly-sought-after husbands:
1. She’s Not Pretentious.
Wealthy people can spot a gold digger from a mile away. Most have a keen sense for uncovering who is genuinely interested in them – and who only cares about their wallet. If a potential suitor seems more interested in luxury hotels and designer labels than in truly understanding his or her partner’s fears, hopes and dreams, that person is probably not The One.
Both Will and Kate have been described, again and again, as people who don’t get caught up in the glamor of their lives. They’ve been buying groceries at supermarket Tesco since their college dating days. After they marry they’ll move to the countryside, far removed from the glitz of London, where they’ll do their own cooking and cleaning, according to a report in The Globe and Mail.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, who has spent a great deal of time with the couple leading up to the wedding, described the duo as “deeply unpretentious” and “sensible,” according to the BBC. Kate even plans on wearing flats while she walks down the aisle; a sensible choice, given how much standing she’ll be doing. (She’ll slip into heels for the reception.)
2. She’s Patient.
Many wealthy people are guarded and wary: they’ve been burned a time or two by inauthentic friends who either used them for their fame, money and connections or who tried to knock them down due to jealousy.
Many privileged people have learned to narrow their trusted inner circle to only a select few whom they’re absolutely certain have their best intentions at heart.
Kate understands that trust can’t be won overnight. William’s decision to marry her – or anyone – is fraught with risk. The royal family frowns upon divorce. Any divorce or scandal could jeopardize William’s claim to the throne. (In 1936, King Edward the Eighth’s decision to marry a divorced woman forced him to resign. He ceded his kingship to his younger brother, King George the Sixth, who became Queen Elizabeth’s father and William’s great-grandfather.)
Kate’s understanding of these risks and her patience with William kept her waiting eight years for a proposal. During that time the relationship remained her top priority. She went as far as to negotiate with her employer, fashion house Jigsaw, the right to take a leave of absence “whenever she wanted, for however long she wanted, whenever William called,” according to the New York Post.
In the end she proved that patience is indeed a virtue. First, however, she had to endure years of being mocked by the public, as the British media dubbed her “Waity Kaity.” Which leads to my next point …
3) She’s Thick-Skinned.
Like any public figure, Kate has been criticized for everything you can imagine: detractors say she’s too thin, she’s never developed a career, she’s not from a respectable family. She’s handled every criticism with grace, never retorting back or launching a counterattack.
During the only interview she’s ever given, with Tom Bradby of ITV News, she showed no animosity to her detractors, simply saying, “You can only be true to yourself.”
4) She’s Disciplined.
At university she jogged each morning before meeting William in the dining hall for breakfast, she avoided the party lifestyle, and she graduated with Honors.
When she and William briefly broke up, she drowned her sorrows not with food or booze but with exercise and charitable work. She stays lighthearted and fun — William said he loves her “naughty sense of humor,” and she enjoys an occasional pina colada — but she’s always polished, composed, and in control.
As the New York Post puts it:
(She) refreshes her makeup before leaving a nightclub at 3 a.m., and has never been photographed stumbling out of a bar.
Discipline, patience, down-to-earth sensibility and refusal to cave to criticism are sharp skills that can earn you anything: an Olympic medal, a bestselling novel, a sold-out concert tour. This is exactly the mix of skills you would need to excel at sports or music, succeed in business, build a millionaire portfolio — or in Kate’s case, marry the handsome prince and make her Cinderella fairytale come true.