Penn visiting researcher offers insight into Royal Wedding

When all eyes turn to the United Kingdom on Friday, April 29, for the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey, those of us here at Penn can watch the ceremony with an informed commentary by one of our own scholars.

Rosalind Coward, a British academic, journalist and author of “Diana: The Portrait,” is spending this semester as a visiting researcher at Penn’s Annenberg School for Communication and has been tapped as a commentator for CBS Philly’s live coverage of the Royal Wedding.

Royal family

Coward, who humbly notes that her “career has touched on the royals,” says that if she were back home for the big day, she would likely be involved in some way. After all, she’s the only author whose book was commissioned by the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund and the only one to whom the late princess’s mother would grant an interview.

Instead, she offered her services on the wedding day here in Philadelphia, and CBS Philly was quick to bring her aboard.

Coward provided the Current Express with a preview of what she might address on camera on the wedding day.

“Although there is quite a lot of similarity between Kate and Diana—the press response and such—Kate’s in a much stronger position,” Coward says. “She’s older, she’s worked. Her mom has worked. She’s better educated and has had a life about town.”

While Kate, with her middle class background, may be seen like the genuine outsider, Coward considers Diana the true outsider.

“If you look at the bare facts, Diana, although of an aristocratic background, was only 19, had no (higher) education and had no world experience,” she says.

As for William?

“One gathers that he is a person who makes his own decisions,” and Coward sees him as more sensitive to the demands that Kate will face than his father was when he wed Diana.

“That augurs quite well,” she says. “They are much more equal, much more a modern couple.”

Nonetheless, Coward predicts tension will arise. “I can’t imagine how it can’t,” she says, noting that bodyguards will always be integrated into the lives of the couple.

When pressed, Coward gave her considered opinion on the wedding dress Kate will wear. “It will probably be a Bruce Oldfield, but of a more classic design than the dress Diana wore, with slender lines.”

Originally published on April 7, 2011