Queen Elizabeth II: Catherine is the key to the monarchy
Kate Middleton, wife of new heir to the throne Prince William, has gone from a commoner who captivated the future monarch to the beating heart of the royal family, as she faces a future without the beloved Queen to her head.
Born Catherine Middleton, the eldest of three children of self-made middle-class entrepreneurs is now Princess of Wales, a title last held by William’s late mother Diana, whose celebrity power and charity work eclipsed the royal family around her.
Kate, on the other hand, has kept a lower profile, filling an increasingly crowded diary with quietly and uncontroversial royal engagements while earning a reputation as a global fashion icon who regularly graces the front pages of glossy magazines. .
Comparisons to Diana, whose oval sapphire and diamond engagement ring Kate now wears, will be inevitable, but commentators, aides and William himself say she won’t try to emulate her famous predecessor.
William addressed the comparisons when they got engaged in 2010.
« Nobody is trying to fill my mother’s shoes, » he said. « It’s about creating your own future, your own destiny, and Kate will do a very good job of that. »
Her combination of glamor and hard work has contributed to the popularity of the 40-year-old, who, along with William, is now seen by Britons as the modern face of the 1,000-year-old institution that has thrived for decades under the end queen.
Although King Charles, his father-in-law, has seen a recent boost in ratings since his mother’s death, he has not always enjoyed wide support, raising questions about how the royal family will be fine now. Read the full story
Besides being the wife of the future king, Kate is also the mother of another, his eldest son, Prince George, and his two siblings, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
Once some in royal circles would have mocked her middle-class upbringing, that experience is now seen by some as an asset, allowing Kate to relate more easily to the public.
She herself admitted joining the Windsors was daunting, but her introduction to royal life was gradual.
The couple first enjoyed a low-key life on the Isle of Anglesey in North Wales, where William worked as a Royal Air Force search and rescue helicopter pilot.
Kate was often seen pushing a shopping cart through a local supermarket. « We’re left alone, that’s fine, » William said.
Some who have worked with William and Kate have praised her down-to-earth approach to her royal roles.
“She has this almost old-fashioned Queen Mother attitude towards drama – she just doesn’t,” Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, a friend of the couple and their former principal private secretary, told The Sunday Times.
By contrast, William’s younger brother Harry and his wife Meghan sparked controversy by splitting from the royal family and, in a 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey, accusing the royal family of raising concerns about the blackness of their son’s skin and pushing her to the brink. of suicide.
HAPPY CHILDHOOD AT ROYAL ROMANCE
Kate was born on January 9, 1982 in Berkshire, west London. Her father Michael worked as a pilot and her mother Carole as a flight attendant before starting a mail order business selling party supplies.
When she was two, she lived with her family in Amman, Jordan for a few years before returning to Britain, growing up in the small village of Bucklebury.
She went to Marlborough College, an exclusive private school in the west of England, where she did a lot of sport.
« I had a very happy childhood, » she said. « It was a lot of fun – I’m very lucky, I come from a very strong family – my parents were extremely devoted to us. »
In 2001 Kate began studying art history at the University of St Andrews on the east coast of Scotland, and it was there that she met William.
She once posed in a see-through dress on the catwalk at a charity fashion show where William had a ringside seat. The couple then shared a house with friends and started dating.
« We were friends for over a year for the first time and it kind of blossomed. We just spent more time with each other, we had a good laugh, we had a lot of fun and we realized we shared the same interests and just had a really good time,” William said.
Their relationship wasn’t always easy, and they briefly separated in 2007.
« I wasn’t very happy at the time, but it actually made me a stronger person, » Kate said.
Shortly after their reconciliation, newspapers began labeling her « Waity Katie », a name she reportedly hated as it suggested she was waiting for the prince to ask for her hand in marriage.
« I didn’t realize it was a race, » William said when they announced their engagement.
They married in a ceremony of royal pomp and pageantry in April 2011, watched by hundreds of millions around the world. On their wedding day, the Queen gave the newlyweds the titles of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
While comparisons to Diana abound, commentators say Kate does things her way. Ironically, if she’s looking for a role model now, it may have been Camilla, Charles’ second wife and now Queen Consort, whom Diana blamed for the breakdown of their marriage.
« I would have thought that if she studies anyone, it’s actually Camilla, and they are now the two most important female figures in the royal family, » said royal biographer and historian Robert Lacey.
(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Mike Collett-White and William Maclean)