The XX Factor

A Working Princess?

Now that the Kate and William have tied the royal knot (Cheers! Here, here!) and are embarking on what news anchors and professional wedding watchers have repeatedly called “a modern marriage” of equals, I’m wondering if Kate will work outside the home, er palace, like many modern married women.

This recent N.Y. Times /CBS News poll found that American women were divided on whether the newly minted princess should work after the marriage (only 47 percent said it would be acceptable) and that the majority of American men said she shouldn’t work at all. Since it’s safe to assume that 99.9 percent of American women are unlikely to marry a rich prince whose entire family is supported by taxpayers, I wonder how many of those men polled are fathers who would advise their educated and capable daughters not to work and to instead rely on the sole support of their spouses. Never mind that for most couples this is getting financially harder and harder to do, why shouldn’t even women with the good fortune to have snagged a rich prince charming work if they so choose? Princess Kate got a top tier education and she should put it to good use. That’s not to say that she can’t use her brains and education in a non-paying capacity, much as Princess Diana did with her charity work. But Princess Di’s celebrity often overshadowed the charity and people were frequently more interested in who she was and what she wore than the causes she promoted. She was so overexposed in the media that it eventually made her, and what she had to say, seem less serious and worthy of attention.

As princess, Kate has the rare opportunity to help shape the media narrative about her and to push it in a direction that is more about substance that style.  She can probably learn a lot from the mistakes of her husband’s late mother who alternately courted and shunned the media when it suited her and let reporters and photographers define her image as a fashion icon and scorned wife.

It will be hard, but hopefully Princess Kate’s handlers can help keep the paparazzi at bay and prevent her from appearing on magazine covers and in the tabloids with the same frequency as Jennifer Aniston. If she wants articles about her to be substantive and not just about her latest hairstyle and other trivial subjects, she should follow the model of Cherie Blair, wife of former British PM Tony Blair, and get a real job that she finds fulfilling and serves a public good. This way when she has something important to say, people might actually listen.