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Prince William and Kate Middleton royal wedding: Do monarchies still matter?

Prince William and Kate Middleton's royal wedding may have tinges of the turreted-castle fairy tale. But from romantic to ruthless, more than 40 modern monarchies, including Prince William's family, still influence global realities for better or worse.

By Bill Glauber/ Correspondent / February 16, 2011

This is the Monitor's cover story for the Monitor's weekly newsmagazine Feb. 21, 2011 edition. Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton will marry April 29.

AP Photo/John Kehe illustration


Theirs is a thoroughly modern royal love story.

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They met as students at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and love bloomed amid the mist and timeless splendor of a historic city of worn cobblestones, wind-swept beaches, and the Old Course, golf's ancestral home.

They dated for several years, broke up, got back together, and finally, much to the relief of a nation, issued a long-awaited engagement announcement.

The April 29 wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey in London will be an international event, a reminder of the power that royalty still packs in the early 21st century.

In a democratic age, monarchy still matters. More than 40 countries still have some form of monarchy: From Britain's constitutional monarchy headed by Prince William's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, to sheikhs, emirs, and kings who preside over oil-rich states in the Middle East, the sun has never managed to fully set on royal reign.

Is monarchy anachronistic? You bet.

Is it necessary? That depends on the culture and the country.

Yet monarchy remains relevant, whether as fodder for tabloid stories and fairy-tale dreams for those in Britain and the United States, or for wielding real power over peoples and nations like the absolute monarchs who preside in Brunei and Saudi Arabia.

The British, at least, even when they're indifferent to the goings-on in the royal family, would probably have it no other way.

"It's easy just to say, 'tear it all down,' isn't it? But what are you going to replace it with?" asks Mary Thomas, a newspaper vendor who sells royal souvenirs near Green Park in London. "I think most people would say that they trust the queen a lot more than [they do] the politicians who run this country."


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