Lindy McDowell: Sorry Kate, it's celebs who are the new Royals
Newspaper headlines breathlessly inform us this week that speculation about an impending wedding between Kate and Prince William "has now reached fever pitch".
Maybe round where they live ...
Here in the real world there's been more speculation this week about the Katie on the X Factor than the Kate who could be on the throne.
In her own way Kate (Middleton) seems to have become the TreyC of royal girlfriends.
She looks the part, does everything right and yet, as Simon would say, she has somehow failed to connect with the public.
Kate needs what the reality shows would call a good back story.
Or bad back story, maybe that should be, given that the more challenging your past, the more likely the public are to have sympathy with you.
A well-behaved girl from a privileged background who dresses in the impeccable but uninspiring style of the 45-year-old wife of a Manhattan banker will always have her work cut out here.
But it's not just about Kate.
How relevant is the Royal Family to any of us any more?
Who really cares who William marries?
The Queen, who has secured and, granted, deserves her place in the nation's affections, has the potential (given the family genes) to remain in situ for another 20 years.
But after her? Charles and Camilla? Is that really the dream team to secure the future of the monarchy in a world that has changed out of all recognition? (Even since the days when Diana loose-cannoned through the House of Windsor.)
By the time Kate (if she does marry her prince) gets anywhere near the throne she's likely to be as middle-aged as she currently dresses.
Waity Katie the tabloids have already dubbed her on account of her lengthy courtship (sans engagement ring) with the heir to the heir.
And perhaps the girl who would be Queen is destined forever to be a lady-in-waiting.
Seemingly pleasant, a good sort, pretty, dignified, content to bide her time, Kate has many attributes. The problem is that there's just nothing there that makes her seem exciting. Or even all that interesting.
It's all solid, dutiful stuff.
And those pictures of her mother and father getting lessons in deer hunting during a weekend with the future Royal in-laws don't help.
This may be the Royals' idea of an ideal pre-wedding stag party. But the Windsor penchant for bonding over a spot of wildlife butchery is hardly shared with the masses.
It all seems so out of touch. So very 1958.
Some commentators have suggested that (God help us) such is the bleakery induced by recession, bad weather and all-round swingeing cutbacks that a Royal wedding is just the thing we need to cheer us up.
Picking up the tab for the nuptials of a spoilt prince to his long- term girlfriend is somehow supposed to take our mind of our own financial woes?
Maybe if William was marrying Cheryl Cole.
Maybe if he was marrying Katie Price.
Maybe even if he was marrying Kat Slater.
The thing is that fairytale wedding-wise we've had all the excess and excitement we can take (Jordan in her pink pumpkin carriage, Posh and Becks on their thrones, Russell and Katy Perry hiring out India for the week and exchanging endangered mammals as love tokens.)
The truth is, the House of Windsor has in recent years been elbowed aside in the public's affections by celebrity royalty.
William and Kate had their "fever pitch" moment - round about the time Woolworths (remember them?) featured the couple on the commemorative crockery that was never issued.
These days national "fever pitch" is reserved for the people's princess Cheryl Cole and the question of whether Ann Widdecombe might take the Strictly crown.
All silly, vacuous stuff, of course.
But if you were looking for an omen for the future of the monarchy, there might be one there, somewhere ...