It's the most sought-after occupation for little girls the world over, being a princess. What with Jasmine, Cinderella, Ariel, Snow White, Tiana, Aurora and Belle, the possibilities are as endless as the romance of their fables.
Before I could even spell "princess," dreams of the perfect prince and visions of an enchanted carriage ride were deeply woven into my female psyche. Mothers revealing the magical fairy tale to their daughters is just about as American as apple pie, even though the concept of royalty has never been a part of our own national identity.
As a 34-year-old woman, I can attest to you personally that the dream doesn't die with age. Most traditional wedding ceremonies today, mine included, encapsulate all things princess -- an elegant gown, luxury transportation, an extravagant party, a handsome prince and even the proverbial "ride off into the sunset" honeymoon. What better accoutrement to the apparition than the highly anticipated nuptials of Prince William and Catherine Middleton?
Millions will undoubtedly tune in (royal-watchers in the United States will have to wake up in the wee hours of morning to catch it live) on April 29 as the heir apparent to the throne of England weds Middleton in historic Westminster Abbey.
I'm sure a great majority of those watching will be wide-eyed little girls and their mothers; jubilant, hopeful, but perhaps most of all envious. I'll be the first to admit, I'll be a little green that day thinking about the glorious journey the bride is about to embark on -- the food, the fashion, the fanfare and all of the parties she'll attend held in her honor.
But in reflecting on my own former job with a public figure, I can't help but consider the potential downside of the role she is about to take on. I never married into a royal family, but I did represent an office associated with a certain level of prestige, respect and accountability to the people it served. An integral part of my job was attending public events, meeting with community members and speaking on my boss's behalf. With that came a lot of pressure to look, speak and act the part.
I can't even imagine the level of pressure that Middleton is going to experience after April 29. She needn't look much further than the life of her husband's deceased mother for an example of just how burdensome that pressure can be.
Almost a decade older than Diana when she wed Prince Charles, perhaps Middleton is better equipped to handle the intense scrutiny and constant exposure she will encounter. And the glare may very well be brighter. In a more economically stable world, the opulent lifestyle of the royal family wasn't as highly criticized during the Diana years.
Middleton will also face the daunting task of filling the shoes of so beloved a figurehead that she was coined "the people's princess." These are unique challenges Diana never faced.
So it will be with eager anticipation that I set my alarm clock on the night of April 28. The "little princess" in me will probably be so excited I'll have trouble sleeping that night. But as I watch, entranced by the pomp and circumstance, I'll also be grateful for the relative peace and pressure-free obscurity of my own life.
Robyn Jobity, who lives in Clarence Center with her husband and two children, can't wait for the royal wedding.