One source of discord is the trouble-making minor royal Zara Phillips, who has taken to referring to Kate Middleton as “Barbie”. In the words of a family friend, “Zara’s a feisty, high-achieving girl who doesn’t like coming second. She hates the idea that hers is now a ‘mini-royal wedding’.” Concern has grown that outspoken comments from the royal cousin about “Ken and Barbie” and “Little Miss Bloody Perfect” might find their way into the press.
The increasing popularity of “Princess Ordinary” has caused enough of a personal crisis for Camilla to be talking to an emotional adviser once a week. “It is absolutely not therapy,” a senior courtier has said. “The Duchess has merely been unpacking a few issues with professional help.”
Kate, do yourself a favor: run. As Clara said to Loretta in Coal Miner’s Daughter, maybe it’s not too late to save you from ruining your life. Do you really want to spend the next forty, fifty, sixty years in the bosom of the world’s most famous dysfunctional family?
Don’t get me wrong. I can see how royalty can be a charming anachronism and a symbol of national unity. I don’t really sympathize with people who want to chuck the whole concept, though I do think the Brits might do well to scale back to a more continental-style royalty, with less pomp and bullshit. But the essence of royalty, as of religion, is symbol and mystery. Royals smile and nod, they cut ribbons, christen ships, unveil plaques, make endless small talk, and — on a good day — help draw attention to some worthy cause. If they can be seen to serve in the Navy or ride a horse or a bicycle, so much the better. But you don’t really want to get too close, because knowledge destroys mystery. It does nobody any good if the Symbol of National Unity is known to be a racist, or bulimic, or tortured with low self-esteem, or insufferably filled with a pompous sense of entitlement. At the end of the day, symbols should be seen and not heard.
However, that’s not the way it is. Royals have become celebrities, and celebrities must be endlessly poked and prodded for the entertainment of a starfucking public who want to know everything about them. Every detail of your life will be relentlessly scrutinized. The ridiculous hats you wear to Ascot will be deemed insufficiently royal. Your wardrobe will be compared unfavorably to Diana’s. Your most minor and insignificant lapses will be sniffed at as things the Queen, or Diana, would never have done. Your parents will be endlessly criticized as social climbers and derided for being the sort of people who have jobs, and any attempt they make to remain part of your life will be judged presumptuous and pushy. On the other hand, and no more pleasantly, the press may eventually decide to amuse themselves by documenting your in-laws’ inevitable shoddy treatment of your family.
Your husband, meanwhile, will wake up each day looking more and more like one of those caricatures in the opening credits of “Yes, Prime Minister,” and will eventually succeed to his father’s job of middle-aged king-in-waiting. For now, though, he’ll be away a lot with the air force, and you’ll be left behind in some palace or other to be relentlessly scrutinized and hectored into shape by courtiers. And for the rest of your life you’ll be shoved cheek-to-jowl with psychologically crippled, entitled royal celebrities — Angelina Jolie without the talent — who honestly believe they’re better than you because they’re really royal. Even if, like Zara Phillips, they aren’t royals at all.
So do yourself a favor. Run. Marry a doctor or a lawyer or a cab driver. Be happy.