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Monday, November 1, 2010

William's Quest for a Bride

Ever since he was a young boy Prince William's love life has always been the subject of so much debate and scrutiny in the media. As a potential British King, the Prince is not accorded with a life of an ordinary man who is free to make his own choices. During the bachelorhood years of his father, Prince Charles, he was quoted as saying "I am not a normal person, I can't afford to be, I've been trained in a certain way for the benefit of the throne of England".

Just like his father, Prince William's only responsibility in life is to get married to provide the throne with heirs, but the decision is not an easy one. He has a role to consider and duty to fulfill as he is expected to uphold the protestant succession of the throne and the continuation of the House of Windsor, thus, marrying well is the first job a future King must do. When Prince William was still a teenager every young girl spotted in his company was heavily pounced by the press, "Is she worthy to be our Queen?" would be the underlying question.

In 1970s his father, Prince Charles, bitterly complained that he could not go out for a date without the entire nation analyzing his choice, his favorite uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten, the Earl of Burma, admitted that being the future King of England, Prince Charles couldn't freely make his own choice for a wife, Mountbatten added "Love is not an option for the man who would be King of England", this fact reinforces the idea that in choosing for a wife, a future British King must remember that "Love is a consideration in marriage but not a guiding force". 

One King already cost his throne all because of an inappropriate choice. King Edward VIII, the paternal uncle of Queen Elizabeth II, was voluntarily abdicated in 1936 when he realized his choice for a wife would provoke a constitutional crisis. The British Prime Minister at that time, Stanley Baldwin, threatened to resign if Edward would proceed in marriage. Wallis Simpson was everything a royal family detested - divorced, an American and a commoner. The commonwealth ministers and palace officials cringed on the idea of having a Queen Consort who is not only a commoner but a twice divorced woman, such a disgrace to the highest throne on Earth.

Edward's mother, Queen Mary, dismissively called Simpson as "Edward's unholy lover". The ministers who were aghast with the King's irresponsible choice, conducted a poll to know the pulse of the public and the result was unanimous: either abdicate or abandon Simpson. Edward made his voluntary abdication on the snowy morning of December 1936 announcing that it is impossible for him to discharge his duty to the country without the support of the woman he loved.

Edward was forced to live in exile with his lover and was ostracized from the British court forever, his wife was deprived with the HRH status. The king who was known as Prince David before his accession, was created Duke of Windsor by his brother and successor, King George VI, the father of Queen Elizabeth. The animosity of the royal family towards Wallis Simpson lasted for a lifetime.

Now the question of who is suitable for Prince William is being raised again. Although he had been dating Kate Middleton for several years now and recently lived together in the Northern part of Wales, it is still uncertain if she will be approved by the Queen and the Council. Middleton's background is hardly appropriate, she comes from a working class family (and not middle class because her parents are not wealthy by birth but full time employees and only put up a business later in their marriage) with social climbing tendencies, a commoner without an aristocratic background on either side of her parents, she has a party goer image who was reportedly seen drunk on several occasions in a night club which alarmed the palace.

A sight of her drinking alcohol in public, gracing endless night out parties are simply inconceivable for a dignified future Queen Consort. Middleton has been badly criticized in public for being too eager to become a Princess. So far in the history of British monarchy, no future King married a commoner without noble or royal background. Andrew Morton, the biographer of William's mother, Diana, once wrote: "Grafting commoners into the Hanoverian tree proved to be disastrous".  Diana, and the late Queen Mother (wife of George VI), though regarded as commoners because they were not born Princesses, they were aristocrats and daughters of British Earls with large fortune.

So who will be an ideal Queen Consort? Traditionally, a future royal bride must come from a suitable background with noble or royal lineage, socially inexperience, free from any sort of scandal and most of all, innocent without a past ( a virgin Queen Consort is always preferred by the monarchy to rightfully produce royal children). The Royal Marriages Act of 1772 requires all descendants of King George III to ask permission from a ruling sovereign before they can proceed to marriage, through this act, Prince William is not free to marry just anyone else without the approval of his grandmother, the Queen.

The press published numerous (suitable) choices for William's future bride, both descendants of Queen Victoria of England and King Christian IX of Denmark.  Princess Madelaine of Sweden, youngest daughter of King Carl XVI Gustav, Princess Alexandra, only daughter of Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, the Honourable Alexandra Knatchbull, daughter of Lord Romsey, Lady Edwina Grosvenor, daughter of the 6th Duke of Westminster (the richest aristocrat in Britain) and Princess Theodora of Greece and Denmark, youngest daughter of Constantine II, the deposed King of Greece. Giving the constant pressure and trappings of royalty, scrutiny of the public and the weight of burden of a Queen Consort's role, Prince William must choose a woman within his circle and who is more attuned to the lifestyle of royalty.

The Prince made it clear not to think about marriage until he is 30 years old, with his busy schedule in the military and his new role as Search-and-Rescue Operation Pilot of the British Armed Forces, the Prince has plenty of time to decide and roam in the realm for a possible royal match, he must remember what Lord Mountbatten told Prince Charles in the early part of 1970s "A wise shopper must have a hundred eyes"

Arranged marriages between royalty was a common practice before 1940, but with the collapse of most royal houses in Europe after World War II, supplies of royal bride diminished, but William can count on the few left.

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