Modern Monarch: Is The New Royal Couple The Last? As the anticipated royal wedding approaches, Tina Brown, author of The Diana Chronicles and editor of Newsweek and The Daily Beast, looks back on how much has changed in Britain since the last must-see royal wedding — the 1981 nuptials of Prince Charles and Diana.
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Modern Monarch: Is The New Royal Couple The Last?

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Modern Monarch: Is The New Royal Couple The Last?

Modern Monarch: Is The New Royal Couple The Last?

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Now, let's talk about this week's royal wedding now with Tina Brown. She is the editor of The Daily Beast and Newsweek, which have been giving extensive coverage to the royal wedding of William and Kate Middleton. And of course she's also author of "The Diana Chronicles," about Princess Diana. Tina, welcome back to the program.

Ms. TINA BROWN (The Daily Beast, Newsweek): Good to be here, Steve.

INSKEEP: I don't know if you count as a royal watcher. Do you count as a royal watcher?

Ms. BROWN: Well, I'm kind of an in-and-out royal watcher. You know, I did spent two years with Diana. I interviewed about 300 people, so I feel pretty imbued with royal stuff.

INSKEEP: And how does Kate Middleton compare to Diana, which is the question that so many people have been asking?

Ms. BROWN: Well, just radically compares actually, I mean in every conceivable way. In fact, in some ways, you know, William chose her as being the un-Diana. Much though he loved his mother, she did provide a great deal of drama as well as love in his life, and so he was really looking for stability.

So here's Kate, who is this middle-class girl who comes not from a pedigreed family, as Diana did, who is very solid. She is as firm and calm and un-drama-like as you could possibly imagine. And of course she's a woman now of nearly 30, so there's been this long, long trial period where he's really put her to the test of can you stick this out. I mean, he did not want to have what happened to his father, which was a bride that hardly knew what she was getting into and then a huge letdown as she realized how disastrous this was going to be for her.

INSKEEP: How long have they known each other, William and Kate?

Ms. BROWN: They've known each other since they were at St. Andrews University, when they were students when they were 20. You know, this is a long romance.

INSKEEP: You know, one of the things that fascinates me about comparing these two brides, actually, is the timeframe that each represents. One wedding was in 1981 - 30 years ago - the other is in 2011. You have a writer in Newsweek this week talking about the way that Britain has changed in those 30 years.

Ms. BROWN: Well, indeed. It's really quite dramatic when you look at it. I mean, actually, there are some things that are similar. You know, 2.5 million are out of work right now, with the austerity cuts and, you know, the budget slashes and all the economic austerity that's happening in England. There were actually the same amount of people exactly out of work at the time of Charles and Diana when Mrs. Thatcher came in and began her draconian moves.

INSKEEP: Oh, there was a big recession then as well, right?

Ms. BROWN: There was a big recession then. The difference then, of course, is that they had North Sea oil to bail them out and Mrs. Thatcher hadn't yet kind of deregulated the financial institutions, and so there was about to be a boom. That is not going to happen again. There is - you know, the North Sea oil thing has really - that's peaked.

And I don't think anybody thinks that deregulated banks are going to exactly help when they've been bailed out by, you know, everybody in sight. So that's a big difference between these two eras.

But there's also incredible just little details. Like that the fact that, you know, when Charles and Diana left for their honeymoon, they left on the royal yacht, which is now in fact a museum. And it had 220 seamen and 20 officers and just them as it crisscrossed the ocean, the Mediterranean. The royal yacht is now a museum. The royal train, which they traveled on together, hardly ever leaves the sighting.

You know, so much of British industry now is owned by foreigners. You know, oil, as I say, is finite. Credit's finite. There's a big difference now in the Britain that you're seeing of Kate and William. And the great question is, will they be in a way the last royal couple, I think, and that's on some people's minds too.

INSKEEP: What do you mean the last royal couple? You're talking about abolishing the monarchy here?

Ms. BROWN: Well, I think, you know, by the time - it really depends on the next sort of 20 years. I mean, I think that if William and Kate could come in faster, it'll be way better for the monarchy. But Charles is not going to abdicate in any way. He has waited for this for so long. And he's also, I am told, really determined that Camilla will be queen. It's very interesting. The nation does not want Camilla to be queen. They don't dislike her but they don't want her to be queen. They would like to skip to William and Kate. It's not going to happen. I mean, that requires a whole constitutional reorganization and it would require Prince Charles to really want to make himself scarce, and he does not want to do that.

INSKEEP: Meaning that there's going to be resistance here but you think it's going to happen. I mean, the crown is going to be passed on here.

Ms. BROWN: The crown will be passed on to Charles and the great question is, is how patient the British people are going to be when he's king and the expense and the lack of popularity of Charles, you know, meet a head-on collision.

INSKEEP: So Will and Kate here have got perhaps decades, certainly many years, before they're ever going to be king and queen. What are they supposed to do for that time and what does the public expect of them?

Ms. BROWN: Well, Kate, primarily, has to do one thing, which is breed, produce a whole bunch of heirs. An heir and a spare and maybe a couple more. So she's going to be very focused, I think, on trying to have kids and doing charity work. William, of course, is still in the air force. He wants to, I think, very much continue with his life in that area. And you know, I think that they're just going to try to lead a life that's worthy, that's increasing in its charitable, you know, presence, and show that they are people who care as much as anything else, because that's really a very important thing for the monarchy right now, to show it cares. In that sense, that is Diana's legacy.

INSKEEP: Tina Brown of The Daily Beast and Newsweek. Always a pleasure to speak with you.

Ms. BROWN: Thank you.

INSKEEP: And she's also the author of "The Diana Chronicles."

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