William & Catherine: A Royal Wedding Souvenir, by Annie Bullen
The mere existence of this book is evidence of the fact that the British royal family is particularly interesting to a wide group of people, and that people can make a decent living portraying the royals in a tasteful and thoughtful way to those who are fond of royal watching. The fact that I am reviewing this book is evidence of my own Anglophilia  and my own interest in the royal family of the United Kingdom despite being a patriotic American with fairly strong egalitarian tendencies. Of particular interest is the way that the author attempts to demonstrate that the wedding between Prince William and Duchess Catherine Middleton is itself a pivot towards a more egalitarian royal family that combines the common touch and considerable popular appeal with traditional Windsor values like loyalty and discretion. The result is a book that manages to combine the appeal of Great Britain’s royals with a look at what it means to be a successful contemporary monarchy and to combine different kinds of class together. Prince William and his wife, who are doing a good job adding to their family as we speak, have certainly managed to show a model of monarchy for today’s generation with a great deal of savvy.
The contents of this book are a lot of glossy photos and plenty of very shrewdly written explanatory text. The book opens with a family tree of both of the royal partners and closes with their coats of arms, showing that even a marriage with a commoner involves issues of family and class for the Windsors. The slightly more than 50 pages of this book are divided into chapters that alternate attention between William and Catherine and give an idea of a context that many readers would want to be better aware of. Opening with a discussion of a royal love story, the author then sets a chronology to show that this was not a wedding that was hurried into. The author then spends a considerable amount of time showing many photographs of the royal wedding in 2011 and the various guests and the wedding party. After this the author goes back to the announcement of their engagement, their path from students together to sweethearts, a look at the prince’s more contemporary upbringing than previous generations of the royal family, a look at Catherine as a modern duchess as well as an icon of style and class before the author closes with a look at their life together in public service.
Beyond the glossy photos of a gallant and charismatic prince and a gorgeous duchess with more than a little bit of elegance and polish, this book is written with a great deal of class. Although it is a short book and may seem slight to many people, this is a book that rewards those who are able to read between the lines, as we see a writer who knows what it takes to be approved by the royal family as a chronicler, and that is a combination of honesty with a great deal of tact. This book provides the antidote to a lot of accounts of the way to win the heart of an prince in its praise both of Catherine’s beauty, her trustworthiness and wisdom as a friend, her naughty sense of humor, and her immense tact and discretion. That is a rare set of qualities to possess, and it bodes well for her ability to build with Prince William a successful family life together. Other royal families would do well to pay attention to what makes this couple work and how to balance the lure of tradition with the need to relate to commonfolk.
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