Jacqueline Oud - Culture

Royal weddings: strategy, love and fairy tales?

Infants and Roturières

Since some time we can notice that the Royal weddings are all following a new trend, where non royal partners from the common people are allowed to marry the oficial princes or even heirs to the throne. It may be because there is an overload of single princes to be married currently but the fact is that the situation occurs only to princes marrying a non royal «future princess».

We have seen this trend not only in Europe but also in Japan where already for 10 years Masako Owado - from non royal blood - has married with the Japanese heir to the throne, Naruhito. In Europe there are plenty exemples: Norway, Denmark, The Netherlands (even 2 non royal weddings) France (though no heir to the throne, but Prince of the Savoy, so Prince all the same) and recently Spain. For the moment, only Belgium seems to perpetuate the purety of royal blood by marrying the aristocrat Matilde d’Udekem.

Maybe nowadays this trend seems to be accepted - or more or less - by the Royal family itself as well as by the population, but it was not the case some time ago. In 1936, Eduard the VIII from England was to be the successor to the throne of England but had to resign due to his love for Mrs Simpson. Mrs Simpson being only a «commoner» was not allowed in the Royal family and, moreover, her way of live did thus not correspond to the Royal way of living. Late Princess Diana was accepted in for marriage with Prince Charles, the current their to the English throne, but still nowadays it leaves place to the question on the way of how she was accepted.

The end of a fairy tale?

So since then, things have changed. But what has really made this changment? All these young princes have been brought up in a modern way of live, having more contact with the population, going to normal schools, integrating todays’ society. The aim of the monarchies was to increase the image of being close to its citizens. Have they come too close or are these marriages part of their strategy?

Have those promising young princes put the monarchies into danger by showing in some «ordinary people» and make the monarchy become to accessible and less a fairy tale? Was falling in love with a Roturière, as the french call it, included in the possible scenari? Well maybe the nowadays monarchies were already bound to lose ground? Or is it the other way around? Since nowadays monarchies have become less special and thus might loose their existance - and their priveleges not to forget - is this being part of a sophisticated modern strategy of survival of the Kings and Queens?

The link between a modern princess and a businesswoman

Maybe it is only time that will tell. Or at least the time will tell if this possible strategy might work out. It is quite akward though that those successful modern women have accepted to becoming a princess and with that, have accepted of letting go of all their status and success. Maxima and Letizia were promising business women, not really the types to be in need of dreaming of becoming a princess.

What made these modern women decide to accept marrying a heir to the throne? Really it cannot be only love?! Is it the money? That surprises a bit too, because there would have been easier ways to obtain that, with less constraints. And on the other way, what made the Royal families accept these modern women, used to speak as they want, independant and with a strong personality? Nevertheless, all these women seem to have something that interests the Royal family.

The strategy of Monarchies

Let’s be honest, if the monarchies are in need of the consolidation of their position they would think of any strategy. Many European countries don’t really need a monarchie or the monarchie has even been reduced to some official fonctions. Their role and status has been changed over time. Their place in society costs a lot and discussions have been ongoing in various countries whether the monarchie should be dissocieted from the government. For the moment, the royal families do not seem too keen on doing so, if not they would have proposed so themselves, and who can blame them. They thus need to increase their popularity which can only be done by the support of the population. The common people want to dream, want to idolate stars and are currently preoccupied with TV-reality shows. For the royal families, showing - more or less - common people in, is maybe a new form of reality show and for the moment seems to be in their advantage.

Queen of Hearts or ... the Joker

So for Maxíma, Letizia and the others, what is there to loose in the end? Life within the Chateau is maybe less a fairy tale than they hoped it to be at the age of seven, but they have managed to enter anyway. They can maybe even play an interesting role from within: strategy and personal ambition is probably part of what have taken them this far. And if it might not work out for them, or if the monarchy falls apart in the end, they can probably get another interesting job afterwards.

Well, let’s wish them all the best, and maybe we can discuss the issue of this in about twenty years again.

[8 June 2004]

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