by Hamish Bowles
Photographed by Mario Testino
Mario Testino captures the modern romance of Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton, joining an illustrious lineup of Vogue photographers and artists who have documented the classical elegance and iconic style of a century of royal brides and fiancées.
by Hamish Bowles
Photo: (Clockwise from left to right) Hussein Anwar/ Sipa; Photographed by Cecil Beaton; Norman Parkinson/Corbis; Popperfoto/Getty Images
“The Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince William to Miss Catherine Middleton.”
The message, on the official Web site of the British monarchy, is so discreet as to be almost subliminal, tucked between news of the U.K. Rural Communities Reception, and the announcement that the queen has appointed Mr. Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, to be a member of the Order of Merit. (Even the 1923 announcement of the engagement of the Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon to H.R.H. the Duke of York was more effusive: “It is with the greatest pleasure that the king and queen announce the betrothal of their beloved son … ” as Vogue reported in the caption for a portrait by Maurice Beck and Helen Macgregor that revealed Lady Elizabeth’s soft beauty, and the penchant for feather-sprigged hats that would become an element of her iconic identity as the dearly beloved Queen Mother.)
But what an electric thrill it sends up and down the spine, how it sets the heart racing: A Royal Romance! A Royal Wedding! The pomp and the pageantry!
Of course, we have had a very recent British royal wedding; that of Prince William’s father, Prince Charles, and Camilla Parker Bowles in 2005, an event clearly some decades in the brewing. In the full bloom of dynamic middle age, Prince Charles and Camilla had clearly found happiness, and the newly anointed duchess of Cornwall looked very handsome indeed in Robinson Valentine’s stately taffeta coat dress and Philip Treacy’s whimsical ears-of-wheat tiara.
But in the promised nuptials of Charles and Kate (as the world knows her) we have the glamour of youth. In William we have the unmatchable glamour of the heir to the throne of Great Britain, the future King William V, a soldier-sportsman possessed of the clear-cut Nordic good looks of his grandfather Prince Philip as a young man, and the perfect old-fashioned English coloring of his mother, Diana, the Princess of Wales.
In Miss Catherine Middleton we have the faintest, intoxicating glimmer of a New Age Cinderella story.