with the woman who wears her ring.

(CNN) -- For anyone around 30 or older, this week's royal engagement left one wi th an uneasy feeling of déjà vu. The photographs of Prince William and Kate Middleton, facing the flashing camera s of the world's press, were uncannily like those of William's parents, the Prin ce of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer, when they announced their plans to marry in 1981. The color of the dress, the pose, the linked arms, the looks -- they were almost identical. Kate was even wearing Diana's ring. The rapturous response from the media was a rerun of 1981, too -- the special su pplements, the pages and pages of photographs, the speculation about who will de sign the dress, where they will honeymoon, where and how they first met, who the ir friends are and from whom their families are descended. Television channels were saturated with more of the same, the only difference be ing that this time around we have nonstop rolling news broadcasts so there was e ven more on which viewers could feast. Bad news took a back seat. The British people, struggling with job losses, cuts and economic hardship just as they were 30 years ago, were lifted out of the glo om for a day. Royals: Life in the public eye Who is Kate Middleton? Marry me, finally Royal historian gives royal details RELATED TOPICS * * * * * Prince William of Wales Kate Middleton Diana Spencer Prince Charles Celebrity News

When it comes, the wedding will be another great boost to the country's morale, an excuse for a giant party, for people to take to the streets, embrace stranger s and celebrate, just as it was in 1981. The nation fell in love with Diana, and the nation has once again fallen in love So where does the comparison end? The first wedding was dubbed a fairy tale, but the story didn't play out as it s hould have. Looking back, it is all too easy to see why and to see why this marr iage between William and Kate has every chance of being the real thing. Charles and Diana scarcely knew each other when they became engaged. He had played the field during his 20s. He had a string of pretty girls who ador ned his arm, each one exciting speculation in the press, but by 32, the pressure to find a suitable bride had become intense. Once the press identified Diana Spencer as a possible candidate, they hounded he r mercilessly until Charles was told by his father that he must make his mind up and either marry this girl or let her go. He asked her to marry him.

" William and Kate met at university in St. When asked on the day of their engagement whether they were in love. but she comes fr stable. His overriding desire is to be seen as relevant in his public life. And he is Diana's son. analyzed and criticized. loyal and trustworthy. No one who has seen them together can question that their lov e is genuine. a lif e that is as bizarre as it is unreal. loving and happy family. and her humble origins have been chewed over in the press. The failure of Charles and Diana's marriage almost destroyed the monarchy. She has held down a responsible job. She is well-educated and has traveled and the world. They have known each other for eight years and appear to have become soul mates. and he was seen as rather staid and serious. "Whatever love is. the Prince of Wales famously replied. She may be middle-class. and crucially. The press may not have been tamed but they have certainly been given boundaries that never existed in Diana's day. and with someone who is so grounded and so normal by his side. She w as poorly educated and had little experience of the world. she will complement him. they got to each other away from the public gaze. Kate won't eclipse him. albeit an aristocratic one. It wasn't good for their relationship. glamorous and fun. . She was quite unprepa red and emotionally ill equipped for life as a member of the royal family. I have a hunch they will become a formidable team. glamorous and fun. She's been follo wed and photographed. Kate is going into this marriage and this bizarre life with her eyes wide open. She has had a taste of what life in the gold-fish bowl is like. The monarchy learned a lot during the Diana years and is infinitely better armed today to protect the privacy of its members. he is young. Andrew's and were friends before they were ever lovers. She was from a broken home. She has proved herself to be made of strong stuff and to be discreet. Kate om a seen know is 10 years older than Diana was. Diana became a superstar and at times she eclipsed Charles because she was young . William is a superstar himself. This union has every chance of securing its future.Diana was just 19.

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