Royal Wedding: Will Kate Middleton Always Live In Diana's Shadow?

Kate Middleton

Princess Di and Kate Middleton: What do you do when your mother-in-law is a saint?

While William and Kate would like their wedding day to be their own, comparisons between William's bride and his mother—and their respective walks down the aisle—are inevitable.

Diana and Charles had notoriously elaborate nuptials. The couple's 1981 wedding took place in front of 3,500 invited guests at St. Paul's Cathedral. Diana's dress featured a 25-foot train and had 18-carat gold horseshoes sewn into its petticoats for good luck. The wedding was broadcast to an estimated global television audience of 750 million, making it the most-watched program ever of its kind, while more than 600,000 admirers lined the streets in an attempt to get a peek at the fairytale bride.

In contrast, William and Kate are to be married in Westminster Abbey, and their guest list is roughly half the size of Charles and Diana's. The two will have to walk a tightrope to ensure that the wedding is carried out in royal fashion: celebratory but not ostentatious. As Spira notes: "With the current financial crisis, an over-the-top wedding is not in style at the moment." The British grassroots organization The TaxPayers' Alliance issued a statement requesting frugality from William and Kate within days of their engagement announcement.

Thankfully, the two seem to realize all of this, and instead of trying to discourage comparisons, they seem to be embracing the chance to honor Diana's legacy. William offered Kate Diana's ring when they became engaged, saying that he wanted his mother to be a part of the joyous occasion, and Kate is rumored to be having one of Diana's favorite dressmakers create her wedding gown.

Despite the couple's embrace of Diana's role in the proceedings, Kate is still going to face unprecedented scrutiny and comparison to her mother-in-law. And with today's technology the chatter will happen at an alarmingly fast. If Kate does something clumsy or misses a bit of protocol, the gaffe will be broadcast to millions of people instantly. If she is caught stifling a yawn or making an awkward face in the presence of other Royals, someone will snap the image on a smartphone and the blogosphere will light up. And, of course, her march down the aisle will be compared, frame-by-frame, to the photos from Diana's ceremony and other royals before her. While we can't know how much Kate heeds the media attention, it's impossible that she's oblivious to it. Is Kate Middleton Already Fighting With Her In-Laws?

Next: What Kate can expect from marrying a motherless son...