Prince William and Kate are still the ultimate power couple one decade of marriage later
THERE was a poignant – and very telling – moment following the hysteria of Harry and Meghan’s recent bombshell interview with Oprah.
To celebrate Mother’s Day, William and Kate used Instagram to share the cards their three children had made for the late Princess Diana, together with a cake they had baked for the Duchess and a photograph of their maternal grandmother, Carole Middleton. And in just a few words they summed up the mood of a nation struggling with life in a pandemic.
“Many of us will be apart from our loved ones,” they wrote, “but looking forward to a time in the not too distant future when we can give our mother a hug again. But for those experiencing bereavement, today may be particularly challenging.
Each year on Mother’s Day, George, Charlotte and Louis make cards remembering Granny Diana, for William. Whatever your circumstances, we are thinking of you this Mother’s Day.”
The post was a subtle riposte to the Sussexes’ interview. Now, more than ever, after finding themselves at the centre of this latest royal crisis, the Cambridges are conscious of the need to earn their stripes as the future King and Queen. In fact, it’s been said that the very future of the monarchy rests firmly on the shoulders of William and Kate.
They no doubt feel under immense pressure as a result, and Harry and Meghan’s accusations of racism within the family are incredibly damaging. But if anyone can turn this around, surely it’s William and Kate, who are enormously well-liked and who have the weight of public support behind them.
Indeed, in the decade since their April 29, 2011, wedding day – and the two decades since William famously watched Kate sashaying down the catwalk during a charity fashion show at the University of St Andrews – the couple has only grown in popularity.
The woman once disparagingly dubbed “Waity Katie” – for the years she spent hanging on for a marriage proposal from the future King – has won the respect of the nation as she has positively flourished in her role.
Kate has never put a foot wrong, embracing the challenges of being a royal and becoming a global style icon for her ability to recycle her wardrobe and mix pieces from Zara and LK Bennett with designer favourites such as Alexander McQueen.
But most of all, it is the partnership between the Duke and Duchess that has proved the critics wrong. They work so well together, each complementing the other. And, crucially, while Prince Charles was rumoured to dislike Diana taking centre stage, William is happy to share the spotlight with Kate.
Katie Nicholl, author of Kate: The Future Queen, says: “Kate in particular has really grown in popularity. We’ve seen her emerge as a royal in her own right in the past year.
She seems more confident and outgoing. I think that’s an age thing – she turns 40 next January – but I also think she has really found her feet and that’s reflected in this new confidence.
Her strength is certainly her ability to connect with people from all walks of life – she’s likeable and relatable and it’s lovely to see her show a bit more of that side of her personality.
“William seems more and more like a King-in-waiting to me. He is happier and more confident about the future with Kate by his side and, I think, more serious these days – that’s not a negative, more an observation. He knows the preparation is underway for a new reign – he wants to live up to expectations and, I think, probably surpass them.”
It is hard to believe that it is now 10 years since the euphoria of that fabulous wedding day, when a million people lined the route between Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace to catch a glimpse of the newlyweds.
Kate in particular has really grown in popularity. We’ve seen her emerge as a royal in her own right in the past year.
William, now 38, and Kate spent their early years as a young married couple living in peace and quiet in a cottage on the Isle of Anglesey while the Prince was based there with the RAF, relishing the relative normality of that period – but, of course, both knowing that a lifetime of duty awaited them. Once William ended his military service in 2017, they became full-time working royals.
Kate made her first, hesitant public speech in 2012 when she opened The Treehouse, a children’s hospice in Ipswich. She was noticeably nervous as she continually glanced down at her notes, a world away from the Queen of Zoom she is today.
Recently, we have seen a new gravitas as she has launched her own “legacy project”, focusing on how the early years – from the womb to the age of five – are instrumental in shaping our future lives.
Her landmark survey, 5 Big Questions on the Under 5s, which questioned families and experts across Britain about their experiences of parenthood, was widely praised.
She gave credit to her parents Carole, 68, and Michael, 71, who are a regular presence in the lives of Prince George, seven, Princess Charlotte, five, and Prince Louis, who turns three on April 23 – it was at the Middleton family home in Bucklebury, Berkshire, rather than Kensington Palace, where Prince George spent his first few months.
Carole has been a “second pair of hands” to royal nanny Maria Borrallo, helping to organise the children’s birthday parties and babysitting when William and Kate are away.
The last 12 months, in particular, have been hugely successful for the couple as they have dedicated themselves to supporting the nation during the pandemic.
They commemorated key events such as VE Day, when they made a video call to veterans at the Royal British Legion’s Mais House care home, with Kate revealing that George and Charlotte were learning the late Dame Vera Lynn’s famous wartime anthem We’ll Meet Again.
For Remembrance Sunday they baked poppy cupcakes and delivered them to a care home in Norfolk. They were the first royals to visit frontline healthcare workers battling the pandemic, when they met staff at an NHS 111 call centre.
They also joined the royal family’s first Zoom engagement to mark International Nurses’ Day, and attended the NHS’s 72nd birthday party at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, near their country home, Anmer Hall.
William trained as a volunteer for the crisis text line Shout, while Kate took part in the Royal Voluntary Service’s Check In And Chat Initiative. The Duchess was more recently spotted quietly laying flowers for Sarah Everard along with hundreds of other mourners at Clapham Common.
“I think William and Kate represent stability and that has made them even more popular – we’ve needed that, particularly in the past year,” says Katie.
“The couple have worked really hard to be visible and to support the nation when it has struggled. They’ve shown us what to expect from them, and I think they’ve got a lot of public support.”
I think William and Kate represent stability and that has made them even more popular – we’ve needed that, particularly in the past year.
She adds: “I think we’ve seen them both grow into their roles with more happiness and confidence. They seem more settled than ever.
“They’ve each defined the areas they want to focus on in the future – for William, that’s conservation through his Earthshot Prize, and for Kate it’s her investment in the Early Years. These are legacy projects and show their commitment to making the world a better place for the next generation.
“They seem to have a real sense of purpose now and they are very much ready, I think, to step into the roles of the next Prince and Princess of Wales. Duty is something that unites them and the Queen is rightfully very proud of them both.”
Perhaps a key part of their success has been the relationship they’ve cultivated with the media. William and Kate have embraced the media in a way the Sussexes never did – while Harry always blamed the press for his mother’s death, William understands it makes sense to have a cordial relationship with them.
Although the Cambridges have always fiercely guarded their children’s privacy, only ever granting snippets of life behind palace doors, we have seen them relax their boundaries more recently, and especially during lockdown.
They have shared their experiences of homeschooling, with William admitting it was “a bit of a nightmare” and joking that he struggled with Year 2 maths.
We saw the children clap for carers during the first lockdown, as well as images of Prince Louis covered in paint after creating a rainbow for the NHS, and Princess Charlotte delivering packages of homemade pasta to isolated pensioners on the Sandringham Estate.
In a video with their hero, David Attenborough, we even heard the children’s voices for the first time. “What animal do you think will become extinct next?” asked George, while Charlotte declared: “I like spiders. Do you like spiders too?” Louis added: “What animal do you like?”
The family also made their red-carpet debut, joining key workers and their families for a Christmas performance of Pantoland at the London Palladium.
“There is quite simply more work to be done now that the family is three royals down,” says Katie, referring to Prince Andrew stepping back from royal duties following his disastrous Newsnight interview about Jeffrey Epstein, and Harry and Meghan’s move to the States.
“That’s a pressure for them as a young family, but they are making it work. The constant struggle with being private people in public roles is an ongoing balancing act, but they seem to have got it right.
“We are seeing more of the children than ever and I think that’s a sign of the couple recognising there’s a huge public interest, and giving just enough, but not too much.”
Certainly, the past year has been a challenging time for the royals, as they have battled those adverse headlines over Prince Andrew and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and William and Kate are acutely aware that the family will be looking to them to help salvage things.
In a clear signal that the couple will only be increasing their official workload, they undertook the first royal engagement after lockdown ended in the autumn, when they met with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and First Lady Olena Zelenska.
And their new senior status was confirmed when they went on a mini-tour of Britain in the run-up to Christmas – their first-ever journey aboard the royal train – to pay tribute to people who went “above and beyond” during the pandemic.
“It was telling that the Cambridges – on behalf of the Queen – carried out the countrywide tour at the end of 2020 to lift the nation’s spirit,” says Katie. “I think they are aware of their responsibilities and their roles and they are stepping up in a way they’ve never been asked to before.
“They do that willingly and graciously, and that’s the key to their success.”
- How To Dress Like A Princess: The Secrets Of Kate’s Wardrobe by Claudia Joseph (£12.99, Splendid Publications) is out now.
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