Monday, July 11, 2011

Will & Kate: Fairy Tale vs. Fairly Normal

At LAX (Photo by Bauer Griffin)
Royal newlyweds William and Kate visited Southern California recently, if you hadn't heard.  Among other things, they attended a gala held by the British Academy of Television Film and Arts and a polo match in Santa Barbara.  They also took time to visit Inner City Youth Arts Project in downtown Los Angeles and make some handcrafts with the kids.

I do not know if they were allowed many authentic L.A. experiences.  I doubt they dined at a taco truck.  I doubt they were allowed to get stuck in traffic on the 101.

Did they order a mochachino at Starbucks from a handsome young man who played College Student #2 in a recent episode of Criminal Minds?  Did they drop by Venice Beach to sample our fine medical marijuana dispensaries?  Were they tailgated and then flipped off by some dude on a cellphone in a BMW?  Did they take a yoga class from a tattooed woman named Star Child?

Youth Arts Project (Photo by Bauer Griffin)
The television stations were abuzz with their visit, and in all that chatter I heard those words again: "fairy tale" and "storybook."

Cinderella is stuck in the minds of the journalists and bloggers covering Will and Kate.  They are determined to describe the young couple's romance and wedding as a "fairy tale" or a children's "storybook."

Perhaps if Prince Charming had met Cinderella in a college classroom instead of at the ball.  (They attended the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.) 

Perhaps if Prince Charming had known Cinderella for nearly a decade before marrying her.  (They even were roommates for awhile before they started dating.)

God Save the Queen
Perhaps if instead of seeing a beautifully transformed Cinderella on the dance floor he had seen her on a fashion runway in a see-through dress.  (Prince William was on the front row of a charity fashion show in 2002.)

Perhaps if Prince Charming and Cinderella had broken up for awhile before getting back together and then getting married.

The reporting of their story is an example of how humans often times make sense of their world with the narratives they have in their heads, even when the two things -- reality and the narrative -- do not match up that closely.  The Cinderella story in the minds of journalists and the public overpowers the actual details of the couple's lives.

In many ways, their romance sounds decidedly NORMAL.  A fairy tale requires the presence of magic -- hence, the fairy in the title.  Their story sounds more like a Sandra Bullock movie than a fairy tale.

And they are better off for that.

Yes, Kate Middleton had no royal connections before the wedding, so that makes her a "commoner."  And, yes, William is a prince, so it becomes easy to call him Prince Charming.  And we cannot deny that neither of them will have a normal life from now on.  But their relationship sounds so much more healthy and human than the usual storybook relationship.

No magical transformations.  No beasts turned into men.  No peasants turned into princesses.

Just two young people who got to know each other pretty well before getting married.

1 comment:

  1. I've never seen that see-through picture of her! I'm sure he fell in love with her on the runway!

    At first, I was expecting her to have a much darker past; I imagined it like the "Once Upon A Mattress" movie based on the story "The Princess and the Pea" by Hans Christian Andersen - but you're right; they're a fairly normal and typical couple.