— One year after people around the world tuned in to watch Britain's Prince William marry Kate Middleton, the global news media remain captivated with the lives of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

The wedding fervor, which saw a million Britons cram the streets of London last April 29 to catch a glimpse of the future king and queen, has inevitably faded with the memory of the fairy-tale dresses, uniforms and horse-drawn carriages.

But royal watchers believe the couple have boosted the monarchy's popularity and offer an escape for a nation beset by recession, unemployment and financial insecurity.

Even if, as naysayers argue, the duke and duchess are merely celebrities whose wealth and style are out of the reach of all but a few, their popularity reaches far beyond Britain.

News media in Britain, the United States, Canada and beyond remain enamored with Kate and second-in-line-to-the-throne William.

"I think it's been a complete triumph for them," Claudia Joseph, a biographer of Kate, said of their first year of married life.

Where the couple, and their public relations team, have been particularly successful, commentators say, is in projecting the image of a relatively ordinary pair, albeit one that has access to palaces, castles, glitzy red carpets and a butler or two.

While William has been working as a rescue helicopter pilot in north Wales, they have stayed in a rented home on the island of Anglesey, a move that has helped them build the "couple-next-door" idea.

"William drives himself to work, enjoys a pint in the local pub, Kate shops at the local supermarket, cooks for her husband, they go for walks, go to cinema, watch television," Joseph said.

Queen Elizabeth II might well be grateful to her grandchildren for casting the royals in a positive light, following a series of scandals, including the death of William's mother, Princess Diana, in a Paris car crash at age 36.

The 86-year-old monarch is gearing up for a weekend of national celebrations in early June to mark her 60th year on the throne, a spectacular event expected to draw more huge crowds to London and media attention from around the world.

In sharp contrast to their very public wedding, the duke and duchess are expected to avoid the limelight on their anniversary Sunday at a long-planned event with friends at an undisclosed location in Britain, their spokesman said.