As the royal wedding hype hit fever pitch, some seemingly rational girls morphed from being excited well-wishers to deflated women, harbouring feelings of resentment, jealousy and emptiness in the aftermath.
Spare a thought for Victoria of London. While she would not say if there were tears involved, she says: “The inevitable comparisons are depressing; the night before the wedding I was stuck in the office, while Kate was putting the final touches to ‘that’ dress.”
Alice of Manly, NSW, says: “I was slightly of the thought that (probably down to jealousy) the Middletons shouldn’t be associated with the royal family as commoners – I mean, if this was the case, why couldn’t it be me?”
Our hard worker Victoria adds: “Before the wedding I felt very sad – largely because I had a huge crush on William when I was 14. If I’d known he would marry a girl from an ‘ordinary’ family, I would’ve felt inspired to position myself a little more tactically in his?path!”
Emily of London has similar feelings: “I’m depressed and moody. I enjoyed the ceremony itself but think we could all do with a royal wedding detox over the next few months.” Not likely, Emily!
But why is this happening? Is it that the women of Australia, and indeed the world, simply cannot be happy for the woman who put in eight years of her life to nab her prince? Delve a little deeper and you uncover a minefield of psychological issues – the mixed emotions, the post-nuptial come-down and the unexpected transfer of jealousy from Kate to Pippa Middleton with her new-found fame. Are we just envious, or is it more than that?
According to psychologist Dr Suzy Green of the Positive Psychology Institute, emotions of jealousy and resentment are explained by the social comparison theory – upward social comparison makes us feel bad, downward social comparison makes us feel better.
“While we would love to be a princess, we know the chances are very slim. The realisation the fairytale may never really happen for us leads to these emotions. Most little girls grow up reading fairytales about princesses and have imagined themselves in this role. Hence the complex emotions that go along with experiencing the royal wedding of Kate and William – jealousy, disappointment, resentment.”
Victoria chimes in: “Ultimately I think my sadness stems from the fact that Kate marrying William proves everything is possible in life; which in turn makes me examine my life.”
Perspective is important here; women need to remember they are seeing only one aspect of the lives of Kate and Will. Their courtship was long and fraught with the same problems we may all experience – distance, conflicting priorities and a family who gets in the way. As with any wedding, seeing her all frocked up on the big day, it’s easy to forget how hard they’ve worked on their relationship and becoming the best people they can be, not only for themselves but for the British people – and that’s no mean feat!
A wedding study conducted by eHarmony.com.au in April this year found that fewer than half of single people surveyed felt happiness or contentment after watching a wedding (46 per cent). Ouch! Feeling happy and content after a wedding was higher for those in romantic, monogamous relationships (56 per cent) and even higher for married couples (70 per cent). It seems the more settled in a relationship you are, the happier you will be for others.
Tongue-in-cheek social etiquette website idobelieveicamewithahat.com isn’t surprised by the reaction: “There’s always going to be a certain amount of rivalry concerning any union, but when it’s broadcast to more than 2 billion people, it can become like the Colosseum. We’re constantly told we should be happy for others, but when it appears someone has landed their fairytale, it’s only natural for the claws to come out. A true lady concedes defeat graciously then makes a voodoo doll in her private chambers.”
Jealous feelings and voodoo dolls aside, why are some women experiencing symptoms of post-nuptial depression without having actually been the bride? Dr Green says: “Any high, such as being caught up in the excitement of Kate and Will’s big day, and all the associated anticipatory emotion, can lead to post-event adrenal fatigue. It’s important to acknowledge highs can be followed by lows and to be kind to ourselves rather than think something is wrong with us.”
And what about this new-found ill-feeling towards Pippa Middleton that women are reporting? She was once recognised as the lovely younger sister of the?princess, now she is the woman men worldwide are ogling, who stole the limelight in an underwear-free dress.
Kirstie Clements, editor of Vogue Australia, weighs in to the dress dynamics. “There was always the idea that you can’t wear white to a wedding as you are never to upstage the bride. I think she came pretty close to that. It was a beautiful dress you could be married in, perfect for an Australian wedding, but Pippa was upstaging her sister just a little bit. That’s the day you want the frumpy?sister.”
But Zoe Foster, author of Textbook Romance, has the right idea: “My experience of the royal wedding has been that women are filled with hope and optimism. Women loved the authenticity of Will and Kate, and the sweetness and genuine love and affection the two have for each other.”
During the sermon, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said: “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.”
According to Dr Green, this positive psychology principle highlights how important it is to identify our priorities – our relationships – and be kind, loving and generous and to look beyond ourselves to those in our lives. “Rather than dwelling on the fact we’re not all princesses, focus on who we are and what we have.”
All I can say is, if the wedding has produced this much angst and discussion here in Australia, God save the motherland!