Kate Middleton Quits Her Job to Get Hitched: Here's Why She Shouldn't Have
Ben Stansall, AFP / Getty Images
I'm not what one might call an international news junkie, but some headlines just catch your eye...
KATE MIDDLETON QUITS HER JOB.
My first reaction: Oh, no! Was something wrong? Was someone being cruel to her? Has she actually always wanted to be a writer and decided now was as good a time as any to finally pursue her dream (please that, please that)?
"Kate Middleton has quit her job in order to prepare for her wedding to Prince William," says the London Evening Standard.
Oh. Well, then.
My second reaction was to roll my eyes, shake my head and say something to the effect of "Must be nice ..." Then my feminist-leaning brain kicked in, and I added a "That's not sending the right message to young, British women" and "Something like this would never fly in America."
What preparing does she have to do? There must be a Royal Wedding Invitation Designer, a Royal Wedding Cake Decorator, a Royal Wedding '80s Cover Band and, of course, a Royal Wedding Planner to coordinate all those pre-approved professional photos. She's already in good shape. She can't possibly have to do her own seating chart. And if she and Will intend to spend nights and weekends registering with that plastic-gun thing at Crate & Barrel, well, I'll eat my fit-for-a-princess hat.
What exactly is so time-consuming about this planning process that would prevent her from personal and social duty to contribute to the English work force?
The answer for us mere mortals is: nothing.
The answer for Kate Middleton, future Queen of England, is: It doesn't matter.
Prior to leaving her job, Kate worked for her parents' business, Party Pieces, a very successful party-supply and planning firm where she worked for most of her teen and adult life. Kate has also worked at Jigsaw (a women's clothing line), as a photographer, Web designer, marketer and event organizer.
While by no means do I intend to insult any of those fields or demean what Kate's role might have been at her parents' firm, she did not leave her job running a nonprofit, working in a hospital or teaching third grade. I suspect that she transitioned her work to a colleague or had some willing and able young person hired in her place, and I suspect that she exited with her parents' blessing. The world will continue to turn, and effectively, without Kate Middleton at the helm of a division of the party-planning empire.
Does her example, then, make it right for most women to quit their jobs in preparation for a wedding? In my opinion, no. But we have to all acknowledge that Kate is not most women. She is about to enter into a situation requiring etiquette training, media training, an education in royal history and current British policy. After she and William are married, she'll begin incorporating service (both domestic and abroad) into her schedule, traveling as Diana did so famously to parts of the world that required her personal and public attention.
She will (and my apologies to her parents and their company for saying this) make a far greater impact on the world from this day forward than she did in any prior vocation. It's my hope that she'll incorporate her passions for photography and art into that future so that she's not just the face of her marriage to William but has her own distinct role in the royal family.
"I mean, we wouldn't expect Michelle Obama to keep her job," one friend said.
"Good point," I admitted. "She likely couldn't. It would be a security nightmare for that company."
I decided the issue was her timing. If Kate had quit her job after marrying William, we'd add her to the list of many women around the world who've done the same. Once buoyed by an additional income, they're free to quit the work they've perhaps never enjoyed and pursue a passion. This is common. We can accept this. Some women, I'm sure, aspire to this.
But how many New York Times wedding announcements read "Until two weeks ago, the bride-to-be was an oncologist, a position she left to prepare for her wedding"? Zero. Trust me. I searched.
Quitting your job to prep for a wedding makes it seem as though the details of the tulle -- and the trappings -- are more important than your career or your future. It comes across as an awfully giddy declaration: I don't need to work, I'm getting married!
In the case of Kate Middleton, the details of the wedding and what immediately follows will become her career and her future; she doesn't need to work. In the case of anyone else out there who makes the choice, I'd be careful about using the "Well, Kate Middleton did it ..." line.
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