Illustration by Muriel Gordon.

The story of Kate Middleton was a princess story before Kate Middleton was even a part of it. The excitement over the Royal Wedding (capitalized because it is not merely an event, but the event) on April 29 is hitting a feverish high both overseas and in the States. In the throes of economic turmoil, Middle Eastern unrest and political party division, we have collectively found solace in the brunette from Bucklebury, Berkshire (a real place, devoid of humor or an awareness of alliteration).

As Newsweek bombastically stated on its cover, “in a world gone to hell — thank God, a wedding.”

Thank God for a wedding, indeed. A chance to throw our collective interests and obligations out the window in order to fully immerse ourselves in the future of a government we have no part in. We’ve entered a moment where politics and media have officially collided like never before: movie stars as governors who then become movie stars again; big-business men turned television personalities, running for the presidency during a time where big business is the problem. We can’t differentiate between the real and the constructed, so why wouldn’t our method of escapism be equally as contradictory? A wedding used to shield our current political climate, ignoring the actual politics behind the wedding itself.

Because, regardless of the coverage and interest, the wedding is a political event.

From the minute the engagement was announced and Middleton jumped on the scene in her royal blue Issa dress, the intensity was palpable — a reaction I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies’ nuptials. Within hours of announcing the plans, the press hounded William and Kate with questions of their future and of the family they have no choice but to build together.

The wedding is less plagued with questions of “Will they last?” as much as it is with questions of “Will they be happy?” Because William knows as well as Kate does — as we all do — that divorce is not a possibility, in this future or any nearby one. The reconstruction of the monarchy’s image begins with this wedding. Escapism for some, reestablishment for others. After a messy divorce that bled politics and media together in a way only the mid-1990s could, Diana single-handedly brought the visage of a unified monarchy down with her.

Now, in a moment where we are trying to reexamine the notion of fame, riches and excess, the story of an “ordinary” girl who had posters of Prince William on her dormitory wall becoming his blushing bride-to-be is a testament to a new American Dream: we don’t have to work to get everything — we just have to work enough.

This doesn’t mean Kate Middleton has followed this credo — it just means that everyone else secretly wishes they had. Lost for words and without context, Middleton is the most under-the-radar star to have been on the radar for nearly a decade. Why didn’t we care about her before, even when the wedding was enough of a foregone conclusion that souvenir makers had wedding memorabilia ready to ship out on the day of the announcement — whenever that day might be?

It’s because it’s always secretly been about the wedding. How intensely depoliticized the event has become is itself a fact worthy of acknowledgement. Because although she’s probably going to look more gorgeous than anyone else who’s joined the ranks of her future in-laws (can we just face that she’s the closest thing earthlings have seen to an actual angel?), Middleton could have really been anyone. It’s true: I often imagine her to be me (or me to be her — whichever puts me in a wedding dress).

What the wedding is is a chance to escape the perils of politics by witnessing an event so deeply embedded in politics that it’s almost hilariously impossible to spot. True, William would have to leapfrog his father for a chance at the throne any time soon. And considering the queen’s history with aging (meaning she literally refuses to), William and Kate will remain poster fodder for some time to come.

But the royals understand just as well as we do that such a job is more than enough on its own. Running a party is easy — being the face of a party is hard. Maintaining the beauty of newlywed bliss when a country is finding solace in your newfound happiness is a bizarre dose of reality for a boy who never knew reality to begin with, and a girl who has now completely abandoned it by donning a sapphire ring. With it, she carries the legacy of the mother-in-law she will never know, one whose absence from the festivities is, partially, the direct result of the kind of media hounding with which the wedding itself is infused. The point isn’t to care about the wedding — it’s to stop caring about everything else.