A Modern Fairy Tale

All eyes turn to London, England, on April 29, as Prince William marries Kate Middleton.

May 06, 2011

Many young girls dream about being a princess. Few have their dreams become reality. Growing up, Kate Middleton was a good student and athlete. Now, at age 29, she is set to marry Prince William, 28, who is second in line to the British throne (see "Who Rules England?"). On April 29, William will make Kate the woman who may someday become Queen.

The couple announced their engagement in November 2010. William gave Kate the engagement ring that was worn by his mother, Diana. Sadly, her fairy-tale marriage to Prince Charles did not have a happy ending. They divorced. Diana died in a car crash in 1997.

A Nation Comes Together

There aren't many royal families in the world, which may explain why this event is such big news. More than 1 billion people worldwide are expected to watch the wedding on television. "You have moments when a nation comes together, and this is one of those moments," says Helen Boaden, the director of BBC News.

The families of the bride and groom are paying for the wedding. But the cost of security for the event—estimated between $8 million and $33 million—will come from public funds. Modern fairy tales, it seems, are expensive affairs.

Who Rules England?

At one time, England's Kings and Queens were powerful rulers. But the powers of Queen Elizabeth II, William's grandmother, are limited by law. Royals perform mainly ceremonial duties. The current leader of the government is Prime Minister David Cameron. The House of Commons operates like the United States House of Representatives.

Britain spends $66 million each year to support the royals. Counting security and unpaid taxes, the cost rises to $300 million. Critics say it's too much. "People aren't in love with the monarchy," says Graham Smith, who works for a group that wants to replace the monarchy.

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