Spring surely can’t come fast enough for Kate Middleton, whose wedding to Britain’s Prince William, planned for April 29, has made her the most sought-after woman in the world.
But the paparazzi aren’t the only ones zeroing in on the striking 28-year-old brunette. Within three days of her engagement, “Kate Middleton” Google searches escalated from 83,000 to nearly 3 billion. At press time, that figure was 4.5 billion and climbing. The cobalt blue Issa dress she wore for last month’s big announcement swiftly sold out and spawned knockoffs, including a $25 version from British supermarket chain Tesco. The ring, an 18-carat oval blue sapphire with 14 diamonds by Garrard Jewelers that once belonged to Princess Diana and now graces Middleton’s hand, has also been copied many times over. Bookies are busy waging bets on potential bridal designers, with Bruce Oldfield, who dressed Princess Diana and is a perennial favorite among London society, being a firm favorite.
More than 1 billion people are expected to tune in to see Middleton and her prince exchange their vows in Westminster Abbey, which would be quite a leap from the 750 million who caught his parents’ televised nuptials in 1981. Coverage of the festivities will no doubt be considerably more detailed for the soon-to-be royal couple, given the real-time reporting, live video feeds and other specialized features the Internet, Twitter and other digital media now allow.
Daughter of self-made millionaire parents (although a “commoner” by British standards), Middleton eschews big designer labels in favor of jeans and cowboy boots and decidedly ladylike clothes from brands including Issa, BCBG Max Azria, Collette Dinnigan and Diane von Furstenberg. Not above high-low combos, she also sports Jigsaw, Whistles and Kew — labels that specialize in watered-down versions of seasonal trends. Given that, it is anyone’s guess if she will go grand with her wedding gown as Princess Diana did with a 25-foot train.
The spotlight moved to Kate rapidly, but hers wasn’t the only bridal news this year. In August, thousands of media, well-wishers and curious gawkers descended on the quaint hamlet of Rhinebeck, N.Y., hoping to get a glimpse of Chelsea Clinton, who, in a Vera Wang creation, married Marc Mezvinsky. Even though secrecy about all the details was high, the public clamored for anything and everything they could get about the closest thing to a royal wedding that the U.S. can muster.
But now as royal watchers and new-found admirers prepare for the big day in April, there remains one question: Chelsea who?