Kate steps into a life less ordinary
There is something refreshingly ordinary about Prince William and Kate Middleton as a couple. Perhaps it is because their romance has been of long standing that they appeared so comfortable with each other and with the public as they made their first visit to Northern Ireland yesterday. Kate certainly seemed to take to the public engagements with relish which bodes well for her future life when they will take up so much of her time.
So far she does not seem to be burdened by the weight of expectation which the public and commentators are keen to put on her shoulders. After all she is not just marrying into the Royal Family, but she is following in perhaps the biggest footsteps of all, those of Princess Diana. And she is wearing that engagement ring. We all know how what began as a fairytale romance ended up in tears and then in tragedy.
But Kate does not share the naivety nor, seemingly, the fragility of Diana. She is much more mature and her relationship with William does seem to be much better grounded than was subsequently shown to be the case with Charles and Diana. It could hardly fail to be.
Nevertheless when the couple marry in a few weeks' time, life will change immeasurably for Kate. She will then be part of the Royal Family and all that entails - the sense of duty; the position within the family; the palace intrigues and the huge public interest in every minutiae of her life.
She may feel that she is living in a goldfish bowl at present, but the attention from the media and public will only intensify. It is to be hoped that she will be given all the support, personal and professional, that she will need to cope with the demands.
For no-one except those born into royalty can truly understand just what life in the shadow of the throne really means. And the experiences of Diana and Sarah Ferguson show that it can be an intolerable life. Perhaps Kate will find it different.