Last year on April 29, millions of people around the world tuned in to watch Prince William and Kate Middleton tie the knot. Their fast-approaching one-year anniversary, however, will likely be as low-key as their nuptials were lavish, according to royal experts.
Part of this may have to do with the fact that wedding anniversaries in the U.K. are typically less cause for celebration than they are in the United States. “We don’t really do a big hullabaloo about anything,” says Victoria Arbiter, the Royal Correspondent for CBS News, who grew up in Windsor, England and now lives in New York City. “I have a lot of friends that even the wife can’t tell you what their anniversary was.”
It makes sense then that, as far as royal customs go, there is no protocol for the one-year anniversary of marriage. "I should not think that the Queen will mark the anniversary with a gift as it is a private moment between the couple," says Robert Jobson, the official royal commentator for NBC, ITN News and Daybreak, and a New York Times best-selling author, who's based in London. "I am sure she will write to them, as she has done in the past, congratulating them both on the anniversary and on their achievements in the year." William Hanson, a Manchester-based expert in both British etiquette and royal protocol agrees that royal gifts will likely not be presented at all, either officially or personally. “Perhaps a new portrait may be released, or some commemorative stamps, although unlikely," he says. "This year is The Queen's Diamond Jubilee and so royal watchers are more focused on that.”
Also in greater focus is the Queen and Prince Philips’s upcoming 65-year wedding anniversary in November, a milestone that certainly makes Will and Kate’s one year of marriage seem rather unimpressive in comparison. “[The Queen] is the only monarch in history to have reached a diamond wedding anniversary, which was 60 years,” Arbiter says. “So 65 is really very impressive. Celebrations start becoming significant on the big milestones. For the Queen and Prince Phillip’s 50th wedding anniversary, they had a ball. For their 60th, Prince Charles hosted a dinner at Clarence House.”
Will and Kate, however, won’t have to make it quite so long before a large-scale fete of their own, Arbriter says, speculating that their 10-year anniversary will be considered cause for celebration. “Based on the very unsuccessful marriages of the Queen’s children, if William and Kate make it to 10 years, there should be a parade!” she says.
While there will be documentaries and specials about the royal couple airing on TV in both the U.S. and U.K. to mark -– and comment upon -- their first year of marriage, that's likely all the celebrating Brits will do. “In the U.K., the sentiment is changing all the time,” Arbiter says. “Royalty is really enjoying an upswing at the moment. But this is not to say that people will go to Westminster Abbey and put flowers down or something -- there will be none of that.”
But even though royal ceremonies and public outpourings are both highly unlikely, Will and Kate will mark the occasion personally, says Arbiter. However we shouldn’t expect to see the couple flaunting the fact that they’ve successfully made it through their first year of matrimony.
“I would be surprised if we even saw them,” says Arbiter, who guesses that the couple will probably choose to quietly observe the occasion at their home in Wales. “They just got back from a fairly ritzy skiing holiday with Kate’s family before William went off to the Falklands,” she says. “They’ll be aware of how [going away] would be perceived by the public.”
The couple will probably keep things low-key as far as their gifts to each other are concerned as well. “There’s lots of speculation that William might give Kate another item from Diana’s jewelry collection,” says Arbiter. “It’s possible. But I think he’s got to be careful if that does prove to be the case. He gave her Diana’s engagement ring; he gave her a pair of Diana’s earrings as a gift. I don’t know that he wants to mark every anniversary with another piece of his mother’s jewelry. Kate is very gracious and she looks at William giving her any of his mother’s jewelry as a tremendous sign of love but I think any girl at some point is going to be like, ‘Could I just have something that’s just mine?’”
Instead of bling, both Arbiter and Hanson see the couple sticking to a more traditional gift, which for a one-year wedding anniversary is some form of paper. Hansen adds that any gifts that the couple receives from others “may be based around this theme,” although he notes that information about whatever presents they do get from family and friends won’t be made public.
So, while we likely won’t see a big public to-do for this anniversary, the spotlight will surely stay on the couple and their marriage for many years to come. Not only are people enthralled by Will and Kate because they appear happy and in love, but Arbiter thinks that their relationship continues to symbolize “the happy ending that Diana didn’t have” as well.
“I think everyone was ready for some sort of closure on the Diana years,” she says. “People’s lasting memory of the boys was at Westminster Abbey at their mother’s funeral. And so now it’s like we’ve ended that era. “
Arbiter adds that Will and Kate’s appeal also has to do with their star power and how people are naturally interested in the lives of gorgeous, young couples. “When William and Kate are in their sixties I’m not sure we’ll all be as endlessly fascinated [by them],” she says. “We’ll be onto the next generation.”
Below, a look back at Prince William and Kate Middleton's first year of marriage: