Prince William and Kate Middleton’s Relationship Is Not ‘Special’ or ‘Revolutionary’ After All — Here’s Why

Many royal rules have shifted over the past several decades. As the longest reigning monarch in U.K. history, Queen Elizabeth had a hand in making many of these changes. She changed the rules of succession to be less sexist. The Queen also rejects traditional title styling, handing out HRH titles to her grandkids as she sees fit.

Royal fans are enamored by Prince William and Kate Middleton’s relationship for so many reasons, but one of the most romantic things they point out is how it also broke tradition. Middleton came from an upper middle class family, not from the elite circles that Prince William ran in. But is this a Cinderella story, or is it just a typical departure from stodgy old customs?

Prince William and Kate Middleton
Prince William and Kate Middleton | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Prince William wasn’t the first future monarch to break this rule

Royal historian David Starkey had a few thoughts on the topic. During an interview with The Telegraph, he explained that Prince William choosing a commoner as his bride wasn’t so revolutionary after all. “This isn’t a new beginning for the monarchy – it’s scarcely even a new chapter,” he said.

One reason that their relationship is so average is that they’re on an even playing field in many ways even if Kate Middleton isn’t a member of the aristocracy. “What has always been true is how incredibly fluid class is: it’s money driven, if you can buy your child the right privileges, that’s all that matters,” Starkey said.

Though Middleton isn’t a blue blood, she is incredibly wealthy. Her parents Michael and Carole Middleton own a party supply company worth millions.

Prince William and Kate Middleton
Prince William and Kate Middleton | Heathcliff O’Malley – WPA Pool/Getty Images

The Cambridges relationship reflects changes in society

Though they’ll always have to follow rules we commoners could never dream of, Prince William and Kate Middleton have surprisingly normal lives. That’s because the class system in the United Kingdom has relaxed over the decades and made it so almost anyone can marry regardless of social standing. Commoners can even marry princes.

“Kate Middleton has proved that under the right circumstances, the social ladder can be climbed with relative ease. She and William sound the same, they have had a remarkably similar upbringing and education,” Starkey confirms.

Prince William and Kate Middleton
Prince William and Kate Middleton | Anthony Devlin – Pool/Getty Images

Prince William and Kate Middleton are a modern couple in more ways than one

There’s one more area that Prince William and Kate Middleton fully reflect the changes in society: their personal lives. Starkey points out that while marrying a commoner isn’t that odd, there are some things that have changed since even Princess Diana wed Prince Charles.

“They’ve [Prince William and Kate Middleton] lived together, separated, got together again – they’ve done what any sensible middle-class couple does. You’ll notice that there’s not much conversation on whether she [was] a virgin.”

Prince William and Kate Middleton
Prince William and Kate Middleton | Matthias Nareyek – Pool/Getty Images

Meanwhile, the topic of Princess Diana’s virginity was international news and she even had to be tested by a doctor to confirm her virgin status before marrying Prince Charles. Rumor has it that’s one reason he didn’t just marry the woman he was obsessed with — Camilla — in the first place. She wasn’t a virgin, so she couldn’t be a royal bride.

Ultimately, the love story between Kate Middleton and Prince William is fascinating. But it’s not that revolutionary after all.