Will he or won’t he? Should he or shouldn’t he? The world continues to speculate if Prince William, age 28 and second in line to the British throne, will pop the question to his long time love, commoner Kate Middleton, after a 7 year relationship. Meanwhile, across the channel, his older counterpart, Prince Albert of Monaco, age 52, is finally settling down with another commoner, South African Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock, age 32, after a courtship of 4 years.
The two princes could not be more different in social temperament. Prince William is thoughtful and steady, for the most part dating only Middleton for years. Prince Albert, on the other hand, has lived the life of an international playboy, dating some of the most beautiful women in the world (Angie Everhart, Brooke Shields, Claudia Schiffer) and fathering at least two children out of wedlock. His need to settle down appears driven by the requirement that he produce an heir to the throne within the institution of marriage.
What Prince William and Prince Albert do have in common, however, is that each is deeply involved with an untitled “commoner.” In the case of Prince William, Kate Middleton would be the first non blue-blooded person to marry an heir to the British throne since the 1600s. (She is also the first prospective queen to have graduated college, lived out of wedlock with a future king, and modeled lingerie!) Her lack of a pedigree is not considered a problem in the royal family, given their need to demonstrate modernity and openness in today’s society.
In Prince Albert’s case, Monaco has been waiting – and waiting – for his royal wedding for 30 years. However, the precedent for marrying a commoner was set by his parents, when the late Prince Ranier married the 26 year old actress Grace Kelly in a fairytale wedding in 1956.
It seems that Prince William and Prince Albert are setting a trend, too. Prince Frederik of Denmark recently wed Mary Donaldson, an Australian advertising executive; Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands married Máxima Zorreguieta, an Argentine investment banker; and, in somewhat of a role reversal, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden recently married her trainer, Daniel Westling, also a commoner.
Apparently, for some lucky, ordinary folks, fairy tales do come true. While Prince Albert has made the commitment to take the plunge, all eyes are on Prince William and Kate Middleton in anticipation of their engagement – and a rumored August 2011 wedding. Will he or won’t he? Should he or shouldn’t he? We will know soon enough – and everyone loves a royal wedding.