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The art of a successful marriage

Will Gompertz | 11:09 UK time, Friday, 15 April 2011

I understand William and Kate - aka Catherine - are getting married. Why? I mean why is such a beautiful girl marrying a balding bloke with a plummy accent and a dodgy educational record. To be honest - and I don't want to be disrespectful - I suspect it's for the money.

This photograph was taken by Mario Testino as one of the official portrait photographs for the engagement of Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton

Photo by Mario Testino, one of the official portraits for the engagement of Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton

That's an example of the sort of speculation and tittle-tattle I had to put up with from observers when I got married nearly 18 years ago to Kate (Catherine) Anderson. Well, I lost the money but not the missus, so her motives must have lain elsewhere, although, to be frank, I too have never been able to fathom what they were.

But it's worked out (I'm away a lot); we have an understanding: I choose the music in the car; she chooses the destination. I say the house looks a bit tired; she redecorates it. She has style; I don't. There are a billion similar marriages (aren't there?).

Just imagine though, if you were called William and Kate, and were marrying at the end of this month in front of billions of people. And that every single comment, choice, idiosyncrasy and opinion you proffered was publicly scrutinised. It would be a strain, wouldn't it? But what might make the pressure almost unbearable for Prince William and Catherine Middleton, his bride-to-be, is the knowledge that many of those choices and opinions have global ramifications.

Kate's wedding dress will make its designer's career, regardless of what he/she conjures up. Even a take on Gaga's meat dress would work (caveat: key elements would have to be organic to placate Charles). Already Kate is proving to be just as potent a clotheshorse as Michelle Obama - whose sartorial selections have provided a big boast for her chosen brands.

The Issa dress Kate wore for her engagement announcement sold out, as did Primark's cheaper version. The white Reiss dress she wore for the Mario Testino's official engagement photograph was, for a while, selling at one-per-minute. Commentators say that she has yet to find her fashion mojo, but once she moves from off-the-peg (she'll have to apparently) to bespoke, her true colours will be revealed.

And the British fashion industry - currently worth nearly £21bn according to the British Fashion Council (BFC) - will be keeping an eye on her choices. According to Harold Tillman, Chair of the BFC, her commercial impact on the sector will be huge - as long as she buys British...

She will set trends, the royals always have. Was it irony or ignorance that led to Malcolm McLaren dressing the Sex Pistols up in tartan, a fabric made famous by the Royal Family? Even Prince Charles's dogged commitment to double-breasted suits appears to be catching on, a bit.

But the influence of the newly-weds will go beyond fashion. Their voices and choices across the arts will be heard and felt. Kate for example is keen on photography. What I wonder would she have made of this week's shortlist for the BP Portrait Award? Perhaps she'll commission the £25K prize-winner to produce the first portrait of the happy couple?

I'm fairly certain the creators of the TV film William and Kate: The Movie; won't win the contract to make their wedding video. The film depicts their St Andrews dating days, and has been described as "the naffest royal film ever made". Channel 5 will be screening it in the run-up to the wedding.

And what would their view be on the new David Chipperfield-designed Turner Contemporary in Margate: a modern masterpiece or colossal carbuncle? We know where his dad stood on modern architecture, but what about William?

Actually, what about William? If you look at his list of interests on the Prince of Wales's official website you'll discover he only has one: sport. Isn't that a bit narrow for a future King and current President of Bafta?

But right now, their thoughts will be turning to their honeymoon and what to read on holiday. Perhaps they can take their pick from the shortlists of two literary prizes announced this week. Maybe Kate could sample the Orange Prize's shortlist and William could go for the one provided by the Wodehouse Prize.

I'm off on holiday, and by the time I return William and Kate will be married. Their life will be exciting, weird, frustrating and challenging, as I hope, will their impact on the arts. Bonne chance.



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