To understand the class differences, consider this: If Kate Middleton were American, she would be from somewhere like Darien, or possibly Westport, or the horsier parts of New Jersey: Bernardsville or Far Hills. She would probably have gone to boarding school—nothing top-tier but probably something with a retro snob appeal that would have made her strive-y parents happy—Miss Porter’s, maybe, or Westover. College would have been something like Trinity—respectable but not so taxing that classes would have kept her from a spring trip to one of the better Caribbean islands. Her job would be in fashion, probably in PR, and it would be understood that her hours would allow ample time for drinks at Brinkley’s. Weekends would be for working out at Equinox and the occasional blowout brunch at Lavo. She would probably date a banker with a similar background. She would live on the Upper East Side, or possibly in Murray Hill, even though she’d have lots of friends who live in the West Village. She would get her hair done at Fekkai, and her clothes would be some combination of Jimmy Choos, Ralph Lauren, and Theory—sometimes frugal, forever tasteful.
But here is where the stories begin to diverge. William is not your run-of-the-mill hedge-fund bachelor. He’s the future King of England. He (and his far more interesting brother, Harry) is surrounded by a posse known around London as the Throne Rangers. The Throne Rangers are not your parents’ royal court. The name itself is a pun on Sloane Rangers, a mid-eighties group that hung around London’s Sloane Square and King’s Road and were endlessly flipping their shiny blonde hair this way and that way before retiring to the old ancestral pile for the weekend to have their Barbour jackets waxed. They believed in old values, and were defiantly conservative when the prevailing fashions in England were far more socialist. They were not Thatcherites (she’s the daughter of a grocer), but they were gleefully, unrepentantly Tory.
Kate and Will are performing a quiet abdication, an abdication by ordinariness.
This Glossy Posse, the other name the media has given them, are simply out for a good time; it’s all glitz and fashion. They tend to frequent the same nightclubs, Mahiki and Boujis, as professional footballers and the women who love them (known as “WAGS”). Guy Pelly, known as “the court jester” of the set, is a fixture on the nightlife scene and the proprietor of the newly opened Chelsea nightclub Public, which has a £550 minimum for bottle service at a VIP table and a £1,000 jeroboam of Champagne for those that want it. Nobody gets to see them, however. With the exception of photos in Tatler, the Throne Rangers prefer to stay out of the spotlight. They hire publicists to quash scandal, not to create it. But though a goodly number of them are in the bathroom stalls racking out lines at the same time as ordinary mortal celebrities, social class must still have its privileges, even as the distinctions become ever finer. They insist on a separate VIP area, because not all velvet ropes are the same. Also, the names are a little different: WAGS go by Coleen and Abbey; Throne Rangers have names like Edward van Cutsem (the godson of Prince Charles), and he is married to a woman called Lady Tamara Grosvenor. Vying with Guy Pelly for the position of William’s best friend is Thomas van Straubenzee. There isn’t a whiff of scandal attached to these names; however, there is Tom Parker Bowles, the son of Camilla Parker Bowles, who was exposed at the Cannes Film Festival in 1999 for giving cocaine to a woman he claimed set him up. He is also a co-founder of Quintessentially, a bespoke concierge service. It was from this social well that many of William’s alleged former flames sprang: Davina Duckworth-Chad, Natalie Hicks-Lobbecke, Carly Massy-Birch, Arabella Musgrave, and Jessica “Jecca” Craig, who was the guest of honor at William’s 21st-birthday party. When William and Kate were on a break (they are the Ross and Rachel of the Chelsea set), the girls who thought they were in with a chance at bagging the heir called themselves Willabees and looked down on the girls who were more interested in regular celebrities as WAGabes.
Kate, the winning Willabee, and William are forging their own path, and it’s a highly respectable one. Until January, she was working for Party Pieces, and at one point took a technology course on how to produce digital catalogues. He is a bad cook. They are not thinking about children yet, preferring to get the wedding business over with first. He says she comes from a very supportive family; she and the queen had a nice “little chat” when they met. It’s all not very Balmoral.