The Duchess of Cambridge’s 40th birthday – on January 9th – is clearly a moment for the Royal Rota to dust off Kate’s Greatest Hits. The problem is that there really aren’t that many greatest hits. How many times can an infantilized 40-year-old be praised for “wearing a dress” or a ridiculous five-question survey? It’s actually more interesting to watch the Rota reporters twist themselves in knots to justify Kate’s expensive existence. Emily Andrews wrote a lengthy piece in the Sun which is supposed to serve as another glowing “Kate is keen at 40” piece. Kensington Palace clearly sent out talking points to their favorite reporters, and bless their hearts, they’re trying to deliver those lines with a straight face. Some highlights from this piece from the Sun:
Kate’s public speaking: An early speech at her new patronage, the National Portrait Gallery, in 2014 saw her stuttering and apologising over her closing lines at a glittering gala evening. And on a tour to Australia with Prince George and William a couple of months later, she kept looking at her husband for reassurance during a heartfelt speech at a Sydney hospice. But she persevered, and now she is making her voice heard through campaigning on mental health issues, her formative work on early childhood and addiction issues.
Kate just wanted to be a country wife: As one family friend told me: “All Catherine ever wanted was a house in the countryside, loads of kids, dogs and an AGA. She wasn’t interested in having a big job or becoming famous. Family life is incredibly important to her, and motherhood has been the making of her. Now that she feels she’s achieved that, there’s time to turn to her public role and what she wants to achieve there.”
Kate the Millennial Queen: While the Queen has embodied the very English stiff upper lip throughout her long reign, the millennial queen-in-the-making has chosen a modern path – feelings are to be validated, mental health is to be prioritised and laughter is to be encouraged.
Kate won over reluctant courtiers? Along the way, she’s also managed to win over the Buckingham Palace courtiers, who’d feared that in the early days too many shopping trips and not enough charity visits wouldn’t play well with the public. However, mindful of past history with royal brides such as Princess Diana and the Duchess of York, the Queen was happy to let William’s bride take her time. Now, Kate and her grandmother-in-law enjoy a close relationship. Sporty Kate loves the great outdoors as much as the Queen does, and Her Majesty has bestowed both public and private recognitions of her favour.
The Keen Peacemaker: The Duchess has also emerged as a palace peacemaker within the family, proving instrumental in helping to improve the often-strained relationship between William and his father – ensuring that Charles, 73, spends as much time as possible with his eldest son and grandchildren. And she has kept communication lines open to California with Christmas and birthday presents for Harry and Meghan, including gorgeous clothes on the birth of their second child, Lilibet, in June last year.
Fairy dust: “People love William and Kate,” said former royal press secretary Colleen Harris, “because we see them as ordinary people with fairy dust.”
Robert Lacey chimes in: Historian Robert Lacey says that Kate’s ability to be uncontentious is key to her success: “She is very cautious, and with good reason – she lets very few people in. We never really know what she’s thinking – and so she can always be one of us.”
Let’s do this. One, Kate is still a terrible public speaker, because she doesn’t care to improve and she doesn’t practice. She only made a slight effort to improve when Meghan came around and was so effortless in her speeches. Two, Kate’s keen country wife dream… that’s an old quote, but I do think that Kate’s backup plan was always “marry a rich guy and live in the country.” Her mother pushed her to wait around for William for more than a decade.
Three, “she’s also managed to win over the Buckingham Palace courtiers, who’d feared that in the early days too many shopping trips and not enough charity visits wouldn’t play well with the public…” Funny how she only won them over to her “it’s fine that I’m lazy and all I do is shop” persona only after she and William bullied Harry and Meghan out of the country. That was exactly what happened: instead of actually doing some work and being challenged by the charismatic Sussexes, Kate and William just plotted to remove H&M so that they would be the only ones left. The courtiers were not “won over,” it’s just that the courtiers have no other options.
As for Kate the keen peacemaker… I still believe that Kate probably sent Lilibet an old button-covered smock or something. Ugh.
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