The Daily Mirror, one of London’s more entertaining tabloids, recently reported that the Palace has issued a corporate dictum literally begging UK companies to stop sending free samples of everything from linens and decorations to footwear and fashion accessories in the hope of having their product incorporated into the royal wedding plans. A Palace spokesperson said they were being “deluged” and simply cannot keep up with the amount of swag pouring through their gates.
This is very much in keeping with Kate and William’s reported intentions to make theirs an “austerity wedding” in keeping the frugal economic reality of contemporary Britain.
More evidence of the growing royal aversion to freebies: According to the Times of London, a jacket sent to Kate by the designer Matthew Williamson (considered to be among to top contenders for the sought-after dress contract) was rejected by Palace courtiers on the grounds that she was “not accepting gifts.”
While Kate may be wearing Princess Diana’s engagement ring, her behaviour stands in stark contrast. Diana happily accepted dresses and jewelry as presents from the world’s greatest designers, but her successor has made her position clear: Thank you ever so much, but a true princess doesn’t do swag.
This is not to say Kate eschews luxury or is adverse to parting with family cash. She was at one time nicknamed the “Queen of Mustique” by the press, for her penchant for jetting off with her family to the private Caribbean island whenever the whim suited (the previous holder of that title was the Queen’s sister, the late Princess Margaret, who led a somewhat decadent and notoriously unhappy royal life).
And as far as wedding preparations go, she has reportedly had £6000 (roughly $9000 CAD) worth of dental treatment to straighten and whiten her teeth and retained the counsel of one of William’s private secretaries to assist her in fashion choices.
But in an era when the public is well-acquainted with the common celebrity practice of Lindsay Lohan-style swag-hoarding in exchange for publicity (send me your $10,000 handbag and in exchange I’ll make sure the paparazzi snaps me wearing it), Kate’s refusal is more than principled: It’s positively regal.
Unlike Princess Diana who alternately reveled in and reviled her own celebrity status, Kate (and the courtiers who no doubt monitor her every decision) are taking a markedly old-fashioned stance on public life: She is a Princess-in-waiting, not a label-flogging celebrity and seems determined to behave as such. Besides, when you’re about to marry a prince from one of the richest families in the world, who needs a handout?