How to become an aristocrat

Forget the car that wants servicing, the lock that needs fixing, and the fact that your piano expertise has never exceeded 'House of the Rising Sun'. Tear yourself away from your own concerns for a moment to consider the predicament of someone you will never be -- thankfully or not.  Consider Prince William, knowing that he must sooner or later choose a wife -- most of us consider this optional -- and once that is done, he must sooner rather than later reproduce (most of us also consider this optional).  Furthermore, his marriage must not end -- and, preferably, given the foregoing, his love must not die.  His bride must not give him, and the Queen, and the nation, Diana Mark II. For a man that has every advantage in life, which is to say an eye-goggling mind-boggling fathomless privilege, that is sure a lot of albatross around his neck.

When you're a prince with everything, how do you get someone to fall in love with you?  For preference, you'd like an aristocrat, or someone rich, or both.  But a rich aristocrat, let's call her Isabella, does not need your wealth -- she could marry anybody, and probably will -- nor does she need the cachet you bring. Yes, it's nice to be in the select group of females known in history as 'princess', and possibly 'queen', but at what price? Nothing the woman may do can be in the least bit controversial, or spicy, or pathbreaking, or experimental, or racy. Everything must reflect well on the royal house. Everything must have the approval of the Queen. To be a princess, one has to be faultless. So there goes the bellydance career, the edgy photography, the political novel, the whimsical and fruity puppet show (should a princess ever be interested in that sort of thing). Everything must be tailored and straightlaced and impeccable from now on. There are very few genuine aristocrats, I believe, that given a choice would actually stand for that.  And then there is the tiny, itsy bitsy little fact, curled up in the very corner of this picture, that a prince should be fanciable, too. He should have not only the dash of the nobility but the come-hither look, style, smell of the sexually desirable male. He should be a little bit rakish, and his laugh in private should be dirty. From what I can tell at this plebeian distance, I don't think that Prince William is a prince with a dirty laugh. (Harry is; but Harry has his own drawbacks as a lover: a topic for another time or maybe never.)

To join the royal family is in some ways to enter a gilded cage. Who could relish such a prospect? A genuine aristocrat, who already has the world as her octopus and doesn't want unrewarding constraint? Perhaps not. But a well set-up middle-class girl, rich enough to play with the playboys but ordinary enough for social elevation to be a major goal in life: there you have a real possibility. In the case of Kate, you have someone from a greatly aspiring, socially climbing family -- and I am told, by someone that knows about these things, that the deepest hope of a true bourgeois is to imitate or better yet join the upper class. Well, Princess William has achieved that with bells on, has she not? Even if the Queen, for reasons known best to herself, chooses to give her family titles that make them all sound less than what they actually are. Only a blueblood, entitled to be called 'prince' and 'princess', would agree to slum it for the sake of a lower profile and a soothing humility by going around as a mere 'duke' and 'duchess'. 

Kate and William have something that I would not wish on most couples, and that is finality.  Love relationships need the oxygen of doubt, of open-endedness, of the chance that things could end, and of the feeling that every day you choose the marriage, instead of knowing that you have entered the human equivalent of a Venus's flytrap.  There is an understanding, held by the public and also by themselves, that William may never have anyone but Kate, however and if love ever fades, however and if attraction dims, and all the rest of it.  And Kate is stuck with William: her bed is made.

Yet of all couples, I'm not worried for them. Not only do they have every salve and smoothing that money and status can buy -- there will be no arguing over the children's education, over whether they buy the leather or the feather sofa, over whether it is a good idea or not a good idea to build a conservatory -- because they can each have what they want beyond the dreams of Nero, who said when his ostentiously luxurious palace was built, 'now I can live like a human being'.

Kate and Will are likely to succeed precisely because she is not a native-born princess, but an immigrant to the royal tribe. She will always be some way in awe of William as the blueblood that elevated her beyond anyone's guess or imagining: the ultimate lottery win.  In some primeval way, he is what she will never be, despite the diamonds, gold, and ermine: the real thing.  He, in turn, will always look at her as his beloved because he chose her to be his princess:  she is not an aristocrat that was bound to have that sort of life, anyway, but a girl that deserved to be a princess -- and he made her so.  He chose her not because she was most entitled but because she was best.  And he, through his bigness of heart and generosity of vision, was capable of recognizing that she was best. In marrying her, he demonstrates his judgement. In ennobling her, he thereby also ennobles himself, in the only way left to one born to be king. They will now spend their lives together in this kind of hyper-romantic dynamic, wherein he judges her as best and she confirms that his judgement is right, to the benefit of them both.

But the story doesn't end there. Kate may have to curtsey to her royal cousins when not in William's presence, in accordance with the Queen's protocol, but by giving birth to the royal heir, she has become a princess in a reality beyond mere title or marriage alone. Her blood has mingled with the blood of a royal prince to create a true royal person, the baby George. The ennobling by marriage is raised and completed by the ennobling that motherhood brings, for a prince of the blood now owes his very existence to her. This is a primitive, atavistic ennobling of a woman through motherhood, which has gone on since the time before history was recorded.  Motherhood is the trump card, the final victory. Whatever curtseys are owed, the fact is that Kate is now a princess of greater import than any of the monarch's granddaughters -- or her daughter, come to that.

So now the Queen and The Former Kate Middleton -- and Kate, let's face it, is a prettier, comelier, warmer name than Catherine, however 'regal' she and Will believe the latter to be -- are on a different footing. At the Christmas church service in Sandringham, the Queen was photographed giving Kate a kiss. As well she might: they are the only two women in the English-speaking world that are mothers of future kings. There's a tie to bind them.