The announced nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton are a joyous occasion, and will reinvigorate an institution that is central to our public life.
The royal engagement is remarkable because it is so ordinary. Meet at school. Become roommates. Fall in love. Overcome family issues and the occasional separation, and decide to spend a life together. The romance's arc is familiar to many couples.
But it is practically unknown to the royals themselves. Most previous royal marriages were matters of domestic politics and foreign statecraft - not of life and love. Royal Family members were cloistered, and only members of a tiny noble class, or international royalty, were marriageable. A generation ago, a Prince William would have had little occasion to even meet a Ms. Middleton, daughter of a pilot and a flight attendant. That the Royal Family can so easily forsake a centuries-long tradition of essentially arranged marriages is a welcome sign that it is modernizing quickly.
And Prince William and Ms. Middleton will engage a new generation of royal devotees. The wedding will lack the hysteria surrounding the wedding of the Prince's parents: Prince William is not the heir to the throne, but the son of the heir. At the same time, he came of age in the cauldron of the 24-hour celebrity press, and knows the devastating impact those can have if not handled judiciously. The manner of the couple's courtship and engagement has been strikingly mature, and will endear them to younger generations. Prince William seems to have successfully absorbed the strength and discretion of his grandmother and the empathy of his mother. Ms. Middleton will bring new vigour and youth to the institution.
The Royal Family is not an object of interest for Britons alone. For their Royal Family is our Royal Family - not only by tradition or convention, but in our constitutional essence. Prince William stands a good chance of being the British King, yes, but that would also make him the King of Canada. And that prospect should have all Canadians celebrating his engagement.
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