Immediately following the Flop Tour in March, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge busied themselves by blaming their new staff, blaming Buckingham Palace and blaming the media for their rotten performance during their Caribbean tour. Kensington Palace communications staff blanketed the media to expound on the idea that Prince William believes that the days of “never complain, never explain” are over and that he will personally complain, explain, kvetch, whine, and throw tantrums whenever he wants. Post-Flop Tour, there was also a lot of talk about the newly invented “Cambridge Way” which involves more preening and less work. I bring all of this up because the Cambridge Way flopped as hard as their Caribbean Tour and now the Cambridges’ PR is back to “they’re just like the Queen” and “they completely embrace ‘never complain, never explain’.” People Magazine’s cover story this week is about just that.
As Kate Middleton prepares for her future role as Queen Consort, she’s doing so with the best model available: the record-breaking monarch, 96-year-old Queen Elizabeth.
“Catherine has learned by observing,” the Queen’s biographer Sally Bedell Smith tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story. “She knows what resonates. She will have absorbed a lot from this Queen.”
Although they are separated in age by 56 years, the Queen and Kate share key qualifications for the job: quiet stoicism, unerring discretion and firm loyalty. Their opinions on contentious political issues are never heard; their commitment to the throne is unwavering, and their public images are tightly controlled. Kate also embodies the Queen’s unofficial motto for public life: “Never complain, never explain.”
Not one to hand down explicit “lessons,” it’s unlikely the Queen has ever formally tutored Kate, insiders say. Instead, historian Sarah Gristwood tells PEOPLE that the Queen may have approached her relationship with Kate the way she does with prime ministers.
“The Queen has always preferred to do rather than to say,” says the author of Elizabeth: Queen and Crown. “With her audiences with her prime ministers, if there has been actual advice, it would be a discreet ‘I think that went rather well’ rather than actual instruction.”
Kate is also a modern woman who is nonetheless amenable to the centuries-old power structure of the family business — otherwise known as the “the firm.” “It’s a personal willingness to conform to the requirements of the institution,” says Gristwood. “That sounds like an unappealing, unglamorous virtue, but it’s an important one if you’re going to be a successful cog in the royal wheel.”
Kate has even been inspired by the Queen’s style and regularly wears jewels on loan from the monarch. On royal outings, the Queen always wears bright colors so fans can spot her in a crowd — and Kate has followed suit. The Queen “has this definitive style, almost like a uniform, which also works for Kate,” a friend tells PEOPLE.
Bedell Smith also says that William and Kate are “representing the Queen impeccably” and giving the Queen “hope” for the future of the Firm, and that the Queen believes that the Cambridges are “ready for their royal duties in the months and years ahead.” Doubtful. I mean, there’s a reason why the Queen won’t abdicate or accept a regency – it’s because she knows “après moi, le déluge.” It’s not just about Charles, although she does not believe Charles is up for the job. It’s also about William. It’s an open secret within the family that William doesn’t have what it takes to be any kind of leader or diplomat. As for Kate and her queenly preening and keening… yeah, the whole thing falls flat when you consider Kate and her mother’s campaign to smear and abuse Meghan. The wheels have come off this whole mess.
Photos courtesy of Instar, cover courtesy of People.
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