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Prince William and Kate Middleton are 'last chance' for royals to keep Britain's affection

Many British are tired of the pomp, circumstance, and scandal of Britain's royal family, but Prince William and Kate Middleton's understated courtship could restore the royal family's image.

By Paul WoottonContributor / April 25, 2011

In this image taken from video, Kate Middleton waves as she arrives at Westminster Abbey for the Royal Wedding in London on Friday, April 29.

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Prince William and Catherine Middleton are a royalist’s dream. Glamorous and popular, they exhibit a normality that plays well with a nation weary of Britain’s more wayward royals.

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The young couple’s wedding, in this age of austerity, will also provide a much-needed boost both to the economy and to the mood of a country still feeling the pinch in the wake of a vicious recession.

But beyond the celebrations, slightly toned down to reflect hard times, there is much more at stake than the feel-good factor generated by a jolly good party. Many Britons believe it’s essential that William and Catherine restore some of the dignity that has been chiseled from the monarchy in the past 20 years. And their union – its success or failure – may have profound implications for the future of the royal institution.

“It’s vital that their marriage works,” says David Carpenter, professor of medieval history at King’s College London. “The failure of Charles and Diana’s marriage, in particularly ... unpleasant circumstances, destroyed the role of monarchy as iconic family unit. That role must be restored.”

The fate of the monarchy seems a mighty burden for a young couple to bear. Yet unlike Charles and Diana, William and Kate appear a much better fit. As Lawrence Goldman, fellow in modern history at St. Peter’s College, Oxford, points out, their marriage has not been manufactured. “It feels more natural,” he says. “It looks to the public that it has the basis of success to it because of that.”

Royalists everywhere will hope so. Stefano Bozzi was born and bred in Windsor, a stone’s throw from the castle, an official residence of the queen. He describes his mother and grandmother as staunch royalists and is a monarchist himself. But he sees this marriage as the “last chance” for the royals. “The relevance of the royal family is being diluted by the day,” he says. “It hasn’t ever recovered since Diana and Charles broke up.”

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