Windsor Star

With this ring, comes lots of baggage

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The reaction has been just what you’d expect since Prince William revealed on Tuesday that he’d popped the question to Kate Middleton, his longtime girlfriend.

Some folks in Britain are deliriousl­y happy that William and his intended are finally tying the knot.

“It will bring billions of American dollars and millions of internatio­nal tourists to our country at a time when we can really use it,” said someone who looked suspicious­ly like a government official. “The spinoffs will be tremendous.”

Yes, well. Tell that to a group of people interviewe­d later outside a High Street pub, who insisted the Royals were nothing but parasites, living off the public purse.

These folks were annoyed by the prospect of forking out billions of pounds to send another would-be king down the aisle, en route to his divorce.

(Hey, don’t get mad at me. I didn’t say it. They did.)

But honestly, why the big fuss over all the pomp and circumstan­ce? You know you’re go- ing to be glued to the tube and watch every lavish moment of it, so let’s not pretend.

And really, does anyone expect Kate to take the metro to the Marks & Spencer store in Piccadilly Square and grab herself a wedding gown from the bargain basement annex?

Hardly. If you’re going to go to all the trouble of having a royal family on the books, you might as well do it up right.

What’s got me freaked out is the ring. Lots of people think it’s romantic and endearing that Kate showed up for her first interview wearing Princess Diana’s sapphire and diamond engagement ring.

William said he gave it to her because he wanted to make sure his late mother “didn’t miss out on the excitement.”

To me, that was just plain creepy, not to mention a bad omen.

Consider how Kate must feel. First, that ring is symbolic of one of the most tormented marriages in modern history. Charles and Diana were a match made in a boardroom, not in heaven.

If her life as a royal was tragic, her death was even more so. But that ill-fated car crash also helped elevate her to sainthood, and pundits have already started comparing Kate the commoner to Diana, “the people’s princess.”

I can’t help but think William is setting that poor girl up for a fall. TV commentato­rs are combing the archives and pulling out images of the two women as fast as they can. Here’s Diana on the ski slopes, wearing a red jacket. And guess what? Here’s one of Kate on the ski slopes ... wearing a red jacket.

But wait. There’s more. Here’s Diana in a gorgeous evening gown. And here’s Kate, also in an evening gown. Does the bride-to-be measure up to her late mother-in-law?

Will she ever, they ask? What strengths do they share? What weaknesses?

This is just a few days into the engagement. Just think how intense the scrutiny will get in the year leading up to the big event.

It seems to me that William could have tucked that ring away as a symbol of his love for his mother and started fresh with his young bride.

It’s not like he didn’t have options. You can’t tell me that with all those jewels in the vault the Queen couldn’t find a fitting trinket or two for the future king’s future wife. A nice emerald, perhaps? Something of the bride’s choosing?

It’s fine to honour tradition, but it sure doesn’t hurt to step back a generation or so.

It’s great that William loves his mother, but he doesn’t have to worry about her missing out on the excitement.

Diana will be there every step of the way — even on the days Kate wishes she weren’t.

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