Melissa is back from Italy right in time for the Royal Wedding. We stayed up all night, but at 2am, we went over to my neighbor’s house, because they have a huge TV.

Melissa fell asleep. My neighbor, Kathy, stayed up with me. And it was so cozy to sit on the sofa in the early morning darkness watching the wedding unfold.

I’m fascinated by the royal family. I think it started when my mom woke me up at 3am to watch Diana get married. I woke up for Diana’s funeral, and now, I’m so happy to wake up to watch William marry Kate. I love the story of a commoner becoming royal. But what I’m most fascinated with is the idea of work.

How does a member of the royal family find work that matters? Charles floundered for most of his life because he was unable to figure out how to feel significant with his work.

For the most part, Kate put any career aspirations she had on hold in order to follow William throughout the courtship. But when the relationship looked rocky, one of the first things she did was establish a career for herself. Being the future queen of England is, maybe, a job. Capturing the heart of the future king is surely a job.

The Atlantic published results of a study at Boston University about the perils of huge wealth. In general, the very wealthy (those who have more than $10 million) are extremely anxious about money. And much of that anxiety is about work. Because for the super-rich, work is essentially volunteer.

Psychologist Robert Kenny writes about the research: “Work is what fills most people's days, and it provides the context in which they interact with others. A life of worklessness, however financially comfortable, can easily become one of aimlessness, of estrangement from the world. The fact that most people imagine it would be paradise to never have to work does not make the experience any more pleasant in practice.”

Kate and William will have to build a life where they find purpose in work in spite of their wealth.

The other cause of anxiety, according to the study, is love. It’s hard to find real love when there is such a real possibility of someone falling in love with the money, not the person. So often we focus on money over love, like relocating away from the person we love in order to get a big increase in salary.

But if you don’t have that risk because money is not the issue, then what are the issues of love? The issues of love and work seem so stark and unfettered in the context of royalty.

It’s why I was glued to the television for hours, smiling in spite of no sleep.

I want William and Kate to succeed, and I want to watch them. I think I’ll learn something about crafting a life that matters.

 

49 replies
  1. le@thirdontheright
    le@thirdontheright says:

    I watched it here too in Australia :) it was lovely. Kate looked fab – but with folks worth 30M pounds sterling she’s not that common :) Like you I think they will build a life that matters – cheers le

  2. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    My money (the relatively very little compared to the Royals) is on William and Kate. I really think they will have a successful and fulfilling relationship for many years to come.
    I’d like to know what Diana told William and Harry regarding what to look for in their future mates and other life advice. I wonder if William and Kate will consider a blog in their future.

  3. Max Shelley
    Max Shelley says:

    Not sure I agree that Prince Charles floundered for much of his (work/official duties) life. The Princes Trust, started in 1976 has been helping young people in the UK for years and he also qualified as a helicopter pilot just as William has done.

    I’m not a huge fan of the guy (he seems a bit of a douche to be honest), but he does seem to have a sense of his place in the official order of things. He is also apparently keen to get involved in things while Prince that he will no longer be allowed to be part of when King (the monarch has loads of restrictions on what they can do as part of their official duties).

  4. Helen Albini
    Helen Albini says:

    I have to agree with Max. Prince Charles has done trememdous charity work. Prince William and Harry are both active members of the military. Yes, they don’t have to worry about money but they have real jobs with real responsibilities. Caterine Duchess of Cambridge will most likely become heavily involved in charity work which will also be work. There are wealthy people who wander aimlessly with no responsibilites but these two have official jobs and responsibilities.

  5. Harriet May
    Harriet May says:

    I was really happy that they sang Jerusalem at the wedding. It’s by far the best hymn, and so English! It reminds me of attending chapel on cold drizzly English mornings when I was at boarding school in the midlands.

  6. Emily Van Metre
    Emily Van Metre says:

    You should check out the documentary, Born Rich (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0342143/) on the children of some of the world’s wealthiest families. Really interesting, and backs up what the BU study finds. (It’s available on Netflix Instant, so you don’t even have to rent it).
    I think being brought into the royal family, or even marrying into incredible wealth, would be really rough. It would totally change your life and your plans, make your original ambitions seem minor, throw you into a social circle that’s potentially not accepting of your upbringing or values.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Oh, thanks for the movie recommendation. I’m fascinated by this topic. And, also, sidenote: I am so unable to watch a movie that is not a documentary. I get frustrated that it’s not true. To other people have this problem? I think it’s a lack of creative thinking or something — like, most people can extrapolate the storyline into real life.

      But anyway, I’m excited to find out about another movie I’ll like. Thanks, Emily.

      Penelope

  7. Dana
    Dana says:

    I think it’s interesting that no one had brought up the fact that the royal family are basically highly overpaid welfare recipients. There is no honor in living off the backs of the people.

    Also, the idea that the wedding cost 70 million dollars is astounding, as well as despicable. Again, this is the money of the people. Are there no poor/needy/indigent in all of the British empire that could have put those millions of dollars to good use? Certainly a 1 million dollar wedding – as ridiculous as even that would be – would have sufficed.

    We are grown ups, and therefore should be beyond fairytales. It’s lovely in literature but sadly exploitative in reality.

    • Shefaly
      Shefaly says:

      I have taken advice from Derek (who commented below) and consulted Mr Google but I cannot find a reliable (emphasis on reliable, which means “substantiated with sources” and the sources themselves should be reliable) reference to this $70 Million cost figure which you mention a couple of times. I am curious as to where this came from.

      Our media reports suggest that the bride’s family has contributed to the cost of the wedding. The TV rights were sold worldwide for several billion dollars (which should balance the projected economic losses due to an extra holiday – although going by the overpriced champers and food that many establishments served yesterday should count towards the GDP).

      Thanks.

  8. Columbiarose
    Columbiarose says:

    "A princely marriage is the brilliant edition of a universal fact, and as such rivets mankind." ~ Walter Bagehot 1826-1877

    I rather like opportunities to be riveted, willingly take any happiness, consolation and hope where I can get them, and have no trouble taking pleasure in witnessing the joy of a happy couple celebrating their wedding day. With their wealth and position, they have the opportunity to do much good in this world. May they do so. I have hope that they will.

  9. Kathryn
    Kathryn says:

    I have two comments. First, I love the photo of you and your friend on the couch with the dog in lap. My 4 beagles were sacked out right beside me.

    I also got up — well, stayed up because I couldn’t sleep — because I watched Diana’s wedding, too. I was newly married myself, and the excitement was contagious! I remember the announcement of her pregnancy, William’s birth, and all the story that unfolded afterward.

    So far Will has done his mum proud, and I am sure he will be successful at finding his work in this world. In fact, he already has.

    Kenny’s quote even struck home for me, for a different reason, which is that when you retire, even if you’re ready for it, being ready doesn’t just mean having plenty of money. You darn well better have a purpose, or those years when work ends and ‘the rest’ begins can be pretty aimless, too.

  10. Richard
    Richard says:

    As someone who has taken from the state in order to survive I know well what it is like to be on benefits in Britain. Can be quite luxurious, especially if you’re of German descent… But like the rest us on benefits with congenital mental illness, you often work with charities – something commonly known as ‘Meaningful Occupation’ for the disabled…

    I think a greater reference to Morrissey about the German immigrant family in receipt of state welfare benefits would have been more American. The reason the USA broke free of the British Empire was that the first of William’s Hannoverian line, King George III, was an utter tyrant. That they are now powerless baubles, with all executive power given to our Prime Minister, shows that they are a relict and redundant element of our regrettable past. Not unlike keeping Nelson’s HMS Victory (of Trafalgar) in dry dock, only a sight more expensive.

  11. Susan
    Susan says:

    Can’t believe anyone cares about this spectacle by two rather uninteresting people. And it’s even stranger to see this in America, where people are supposedly opposed to inherited wealth and privilege.

    • Denys Yeo
      Denys Yeo says:

      I agree that it seems strange Americans would be interested in this ridiculous over the top wedding. I thought they had got over it when they tossed the British out years ago? Wasn't the idea to become independent of the British (or any) Monarchy? But then I do live at the bottom of the world so I may have it wrong!

  12. Derek
    Derek says:

    Just to correct a few misperceptions re. the British (also Canadian, Australian, etc.) royal family. They receive money from the civil list (i.e. the state) for their official duties of which there are many; the money they pay in taxes and the income from the crown estate far exceeds this amount. The royal family helps promote tourism (how much coverage did the wedding garner worldwide?) – €“ the income from this for the state is significant. HM the Queen still works at 85 years of age. Prince William currently works as a search and rescue helicopter pilot. Polls consistently show that in excess of 80% of UK citizens support the monarchy.

    • Dana
      Dana says:

      Derek,

      Could you please elaborate a bit on this? The civil list is paid for by taxes paid by the people is my understanding. How does ones taxes exceed ones income? How the royal family promotes tourism – other than a 70 million dollar wedding every thirty years – is unclear. Yes the Queen still ‘works’ but that is presumably her preference is it not? If the Queen chose not to work tomorrow I hardly think her funding would be cut off. The Princes also choose to work one would assume. That polls show that 80% of the citizens support the monarchy – in spirit as well as financially – doesn’t make their living high and mighty off the backs of the working men and women any more palatable, and certainly not honorable.

      • Derek
        Derek says:

        I’m sure the good folks at wwwdotgoogledotcom can enlighten you to a greater extent than I, a mere working man.

      • MJ
        MJ says:

        Taxes are based on income. Taxes may exceed civil list income when the taxes are based on all income – just like an American employee making a moderate salary but being taxed on interest and dividend income from substantial family investments not shown on a W2.

      • Susie
        Susie says:

        “FinancesFurther information: Finances of the British Royal Family

        Sandringham House, Elizabeth’s private residence in Sandringham, NorfolkElizabeth’s personal fortune has been the subject of speculation for many years. Forbes magazine estimated her net worth at around US$450 million in 2010,[164] but official Buckingham Palace statements in 1993 called estimates of £100 million “grossly overstated”,[165] and Jock Colville estimated her wealth at £2 million in 1971 (the equivalent of about £21 million today[166]).[167] The Royal Collection, which includes artworks and the Crown Jewels, is not owned by the Queen personally and is held in trust,[168][169] as are the occupied palaces in the United Kingdom such as Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle,[170] and the Duchy of Lancaster, a property portfolio valued at £348 million in 2010.[171]

        Elizabeth is reported to dislike Buckingham Palace as a residence, and prefers Windsor Castle.[136] Sandringham House and Balmoral Castle are privately owned by the Queen.[170] Income from the British Crown Estate – €“ with holdings of £6.6 billion in 2010[172] – €“ is transferred to the British treasury in return for Civil List payments. The Crown Estate and the Crown Land of Canada – €“ comprising 89% of Canada’s area[173] – €“ are owned by the Sovereign in trust for the nation, and cannot be sold or owned by Elizabeth in a private capacity. ” From wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_II_of_the_United_Kingdom#Finances)

        Basically, the royal family give the British government the income from the royal trust and in turn the British governemt adds them to the civil lists and they get paid that way instead. Personally, I would rather have my 6.6 billion dollars but when you are royalty, I’m pretty sure you are trapped. The trust can’t really be taken over by the government because it actually belongs to the royal family unless someone kills them all off to the point that there are no heirs left, which we all know is wrong today, unlike when the Russians did it to the Tzar’s.

  13. Lynette Jensen
    Lynette Jensen says:

    I absolutely agree that work is essential to a happy and fulfilled life. I was medically retired at Kate & Will’s age (severe arthritis) and the hardest struggle was making sense of who I was without my career.
    Kate & William, and indeed all the major royals looked last night night as though they had a strong sense of self, and I guess this is the key – work should express yourself.
    Now that I’m back in the ‘world of work’ and largely recovered after 15 years of being housebound (and consequently having a lot of time to make sense of things!) I can bring my own perspective of experience to the way I shape my work and life.
    Kate & William seem “together” enough to do the same thing. I liked that in the midst of the pomp and ceremony, they seemed like real people.

  14. Sadya
    Sadya says:

    Charles floundered because who he wanted to be with and who he thought everyone would approve of, were two choices b/w which he kept moving back and forth. Its like the career choices most people make. The work we want to do vs. the work everyone elses values constantly makes us miserable. We often secretly pursue what we are passionate about but we worry about others opinion so we keep the job with the prestige. It a typical baby boomer dilemma.

    In Charles case, he ended up making many lives miserable, and he received the least of sympathy.

  15. HeatherM
    HeatherM says:

    The prayer they wrote together makes me think they have the same idea as you, to find meaning in their work.

    “God our Father, we thank you for our families; for the love that we share and for the joy of our marriage.

    In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy.

    Strengthened by our union help us to serve and comfort those who suffer. We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.”

  16. Bingo Babe
    Bingo Babe says:

    Like you, I’m totally fascinated by the Royal Family. The wedding was beautiful. Luckily I’m from the UK so didn’t have to get up at 3am.

  17. classycareergirl
    classycareergirl says:

    I want them to succeed too and I really think that they will! The wedding was so beautiful and I loved all the gorgeous hats!

    I am really looking forward to reading more of your blog! Thanks for all of your advice and information for the career girl like me!

  18. Dale
    Dale says:

    Penny,

    They don’t need luck, they need a purpose to unify them. Relationships work best when there is a shared focus (other than the children).

  19. Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot
    Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot says:

    I hope they succeed. We all want them to because we’re all romantics at heart and everyone loves a happy ending. Everyone in England is so happy because she’s a “commoner”, sadly Le, even millions in the back can’t stop you from being common or help you escape the British class system!

  20. Mark
    Mark says:

    Very interesting discussion. The assertion above that the Monarchy does not increase tourism is just plain silly. Who goes to London and doesn’t see the Crown jewels, tower of London, Buckingham palace ect? I suppose that these would still be attractions if there were no Monarchy in the short term, but I doubt in the long term.

  21. Irene
    Irene says:

    >I suppose that these would still be attractions if there were no Monarchy in the short term, but I doubt in the long term.

    Huh? What about the Hermitage in St. Petersburg (Russia), The Louvre in Paris, or Versailles? In terms of tourism, I’d rather there be no Queen, then I don’t have to worry about her schedule when I want to see Buckingham palace. They won’t let you see it if she’s currently occupying it (she does move between her palaces).

Comments are closed.