Keeping Tabs

Hail, Britney

Someday, her prince may come—and the tabloids will be waiting. 

Regular readers may recall that at the end of last year, Keeping Tabs awarded its “Most hyperbolic story” award to the Star for a gem of a piece on the “surprising hush-hush romance” between teen pop star Britney Spears and Britain’s Prince William. The romance, as she noted at the time, was so hush-hush that the two had actually never met, but a Star source nonetheless speculated that Britney still might consider a marriage proposal from the dashing young royal.

No doubt propelled by the specious tabloid speculation, the Britney and William story has taken on a life of its own. Recent cover stories on Britney in USA Weekend and People made it clear that the two have shared nothing more than some e-mails and an autographed photo. “He’s very cute and so sweet,” Britney told People. “But people blow things out of proportion.”

And how. In fact, when it comes to Britney and William, the tabloids have written a new book on blowing things out of proportion. Since this non-story first appeared late last year, the purported romance has percolated, blossomed, sprouted more permutations than a hydra and, if last week’s Globe is to be believed, ended—all without ever having really begun.

The Star continues to beat the drums loudest. Last week’s 35-page “bonus section” on the prince included all the details of his “passion for Britney.” (The section is touted as a “book-length biography of the boy born to be king,” which left Keeping Tabs wondering just what sorts of books they’re accustomed to reading over at the Star.) In any case, the two have still never been in the same room, but that doesn’t stop the Star from making perplexing statements like “the pop princess, 18, and the heir to the British throne, 17, have quietly become the new millennium’s hottest duo, and they hope to get together later this year.”

Chapter 7 of William’s “biography” is also home to the “picture the whole world wants to see”: a photo simulation of “how the stunning couple’s royal wedding might look.” In addition to an apparent misconception of just what is on the collective mind of the “whole world,” apparently no one at the Star is aware that the royals tend to shy away from those groom-scooping-up-the-bride-in-his-arms poses and that future queens of England usually eschew crystal-bedecked headpieces. “There’s no wedding registry yet, but don’t bet against it,” warns the Star. Are you kidding? Keeping Tabs has a Waring blender already wrapped and ready to go.

This week’s National Enquirer gives a classic twist to the story with the addition of a romantic rival: none other than teen pop star Christina Aguilera, who just beat out Britney for the Best New Artist Grammy. Having heard about a planned date between the non-couple, Christina is reportedly “hoping to beat Britney to the punch and be the first to date Wills the next time she visits England,” explains the Enquirer. But she has a tough row to hoe: The Enquirer maintains that “Britney and Wills’ long-kisstance lust affair is going strong over the Internet.” “There’ll be fireworks when these two meet!” a royal insider insists.

Alas, all good tabloid arcs must come to an end, as evidenced by this week’s Globe story “Sorry Britney! Prince William Taking a Bride” (“Prince William Breaks Britney’s Heart” screams the cover.) Even though it “showed great promise in the beginning,” the Globe solemnly announces, Spears’ “long distance romance with Prince William is history.” According to the story, William has “lost his heart” to “stunning” 19-year-old Isabella Anstruther-Gough-Calthope. Although it appears from the story that William and Isabella have merely been introduced (the only evidence of their dating is that “it now appears certain that Isabella—not Britney—will be the gal partying the night away with the dashing prince on his birthday”), Isabella is already dubbed the “girl who would be queen.” Never ones to waste time, both Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles are said to have already given “the royal stamp of approval” to the match.

Britney, needless to say, is reportedly “devastated,” having been “reduced to tears” by the news. “Britney was heartbroken to find out that the prince had been seeing another girl for several months—even while Britney was hoping SHE and Wills would be a twosome,” explains an insider. “Her dream of marrying a prince has been shattered.” Not to mention the crystal headpiece.

Luckily for the Globe, there are other fish in Spears’ sea. In fact, just last week the National Enquirer had Britney on its cover, receiving a stern warning from actress Jennifer Aniston to stay away from her boyfriend, Brad Pitt. The singer, it was reported, has “launched a public campaign to win [Pitt’s] heart.” The evidence speaks for itself. In one recent interview, she acknowledged that she has a photo of Pitt on her refrigerator and kisses it every morning. Pitt is “like, the ultimate,” she was quoted as saying. And according to one well-placed source, “Britney has even done TV interviews saying that she really, really likes Brad.”

The Enquirer says that the teen-ager’s “brazen pursuit ” of Pitt has left Aniston “livid.” “Naturally, Jennifer feels threatened,” explains an insider. Naturally. Thank God she’s not dating one of the Backstreet Boys.

Anyway, Aniston isn’t going to take this assault on her 36-year-old beau lying down. She’s “fighting back” against Britney’s “attention-grabbing public ‘striptease’ ” with a plan of her own: According to a Friends insider, “Jennifer’s said that if she ever comes face-to-face with Britney”—are you ready for this?—”she’ll tell her to stop pursuing Brad—once and for all!” Meow! Now there’s a confrontation Keeping Tabs would pay good money to see.