Royal Corner

William & Kate: A Decade At The Royal Helm

It's been ten years since the breathtaking wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. How have the couple honoured their traditional roles within the Royal Family, yet also helped modernise an ancient institution for a modern world?

APRIL 29th, 2021

A decade of love: A stunning new photo has been released of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to mark their 10th wedding anniversary - © PA Images


mooth seas do not make skillful sailors’, is a renowned african proverb which would confidently describe the last few years for the Royal Family. With Prince Andrew’s car crash BBC interview with Emily Maitlis exposing the arrogant, egotistical nature of a petulant prince whose friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein continues to go unexplained; the explosive and increasingly flawed Oprah Winfrey interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle persistently making waves around the world, and the devastating loss of the family’s patriarch Prince Philip forcing the institution to begin beckoning a new era of monarchy; the seas have been pretty rough of the Windsors.

Yet against the maelstrom of scandals and betrayals have been a royal couple who have weathered it all. Calmly and diligently steering the galleon of royalty towards calmer waters, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have become a force to be reckoned with and equally celebrated.

A new photograph was released of the couple to mark their 10th wedding anniversary. - © Chris Floyd

For ten years William and Catherine have been at the epicenter of The Royal Family. It is a position which they will hold for the rest of their lives together, whether as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince and Princess of Wales, or eventually, King and Queen. But as the couple celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary, how have William and Catherine acknowledged and honoured their traditional roles within the Royal Family, and yet equally helped modernise an ancient institution for a modern world?

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge share a kiss on their wedding day. - © Getty Images

It's impossible to answer with one particular approach or element of the Duke and Duchess’s union, but as the couple walked out of Westminster Abbey as a newly married couple, so beckoned a new style of monarchy, and more so, one which united a royal prince with a middle-class “commoner”. By today’s standards, this type of union would hardly be deemed a breaker of tradition or a celebration of ‘modernity’, but after the disastrous marriage of William’s parents, Charles and Diana, to have their son marry for love and love alone was both a celebration and a hint at a modernising monarchy.

Perhaps one of the most enduring successes of the Cambridge's marriage stems from Prince William. Let us not forget that here was a man, who as a boy, watched with undiluted horror and pain the dissolvement of his parent’s fairytale marriage unfold for the media to dissect. With both Diana’s and Charles’ camps briefing against one another, William sadly found himself in the middle, and in some cases, an unwilling pawn in the game playing. To experience the public trauma of his parent’s marriage breakdown understandably scarred the young prince.

And yet, on the announcement of his engagement to long-time girlfriend Catherine Middleton, a twenty-eight-year-old William made it crystal clear that the mistakes of the past would not be repeated. “I’m trying to learn from lessons of the past,” he said in the engagement interview with Tom Bradby, “and I just wanted to give her the best chance to settle in.” It was an admirable approach and one which has paid off dividends a decade later. Where Charles and Diana looked unhappy and distant from one another by their tenth wedding anniversary, William and Catherine both look more in love than ever.

Although with any marriage, it is a partnership, and whilst William set out his stall early on that things were going to be different within this royal marriage, Catherine equally brought her own strength and vibrancy too. Unlike her husband, the future Duchess’s family life was idyllic. Brought up with loving parents in a strong and stable marriage, siblings who rarely bickered, and privileged through her mother’s self-made wealth, Catherine Middleton was the furthest thing from the snob some critics attempted to paint her as. A tell-tale sign of this is speaking to those who have interacted with her throughout her life, whether it be employers, colleagues, teachers, school friends, members of the public, or even the Middleton’s family butcher - it is rare to hear a bad word said about the Duchess of Cambridge.

For William, a young man who had been searching for the security that life can offer, he found that through Catherine and her family. It must be acknowledged that the Middleton’s are as much a vital part of the success story that is the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s marriage than anything or anyone else.

A stunning photo taken by Chris Jackson of the Duchess of Cambridge at the funeral of Prince Philip. - © Chris Jackson/Getty Images

As marriage progresses the newlywed sheen eventually wanes, and so does public interest, a result which is perfectly understandable. Yet for William and Catherine, a decade on from there historic wedding the public draw is still there. As a nation we still want to hear about them, see their adorable family grow and continue to invest our hard earned interest in them. This consistent popularity stems from a simple factor - duty.

As time has passed by we have seen William and Catherine understand and embrace their roles, not only as members of the Royal Family, but as husband, wife and parents. Both fiercely protective of each other, there is also a focus on teamwork. Whilst both may have their own individual interests, with William focusing on Climate Change and Homelessness, and Catherine championing the Early Years and addiction, they have purposefully strived to unite on joint ventures as well as cheerleading each other’s individual pursuits as well.

Their duty is not solely based within the world of royalty, but to each other. It has been noted behind-the-scenes that William has always been touched and relieved by the popularity of his wife. Equally Catherine has always been the comforting voice in her husband’s ear, both supporting and calming through good and bad times. There is no jealousy, no competition (at least bad natured) or attempt to outshine. William and Catherine come as a team, and a team they will always remain.

That approach in the last few months has become an impenetrable shield for not only the couple, but the monarchy too. After facing the unrelenting attacks by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex as they poured their hearts out to Oprah Winfrey, there was barely any response from the Cambridges, even though Catherine had been accused of making Meghan cry and William was described as “trapped” within the institution by his brother. The couple’s silence reminded us all that it takes strength to speak out, but even greater strength to say nothing.

The silent response from the Cambridge’s, bar William’s answer to a reporter when asked whether the Royal Family was ‘racist’: “We are very much not a racist family”, he had replied, was following the example set by the Queen, someone Prince William has actively looked to emulate. That mirroring was on show again at the recent funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh. This time however, it was the Duchess of Cambridge who took the attention of the watching world.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge alongside their children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis in their annual Christmas Card photo. - © KensingtonRoyal

Dressed in a breathtaking mourning outfit, a photo emerged, taken by Chris Jackson, of Catherine looking directly down the lens. The image was striking for two reasons: one, rarely ever does the Duchess look directly into the camera lens of press photographers, and two, her regal persona shone so brightly, with such defined majesty, it was impossible to ignore. That day, Catherine ceased to be a Duchess or a princess. For a split second we saw a future Queen and a woman vividly prepared for what will be the greatest role of her royal life.

Similarly with William, the leading role he has taken in the country’s response to the pandemic has been the clearest look into how he will lead as King William V. It is one which equally merges the two greatest expectations which will be placed upon him, honouring tradition whilst creating a modern monarchy. So far, the Duke of Cambridge has excelled at achieving both. Last year, William honoured the 75th anniversary of VJ Day and delivered a speech at Horse Guards Parade in London. It was one made and delivered by a King-in-waiting and showcased the stoicism needed by a man who will one day be our Head of State.

Yet, a few weeks later he presented a stunning and moving documentary on Climate Change, showcasing the phenomenal work by the public in trying to save our planet. William was praised by critics and the public for his warm, natural and down-to-earth personality, as well as his unwavering passion for the cause.

In all these cases, what was most notable is that no matter what engagement or endeavour William and Catherine pursue, they are in it together. Once again, teamwork was at the centre of their royal approach. Much like the Queen and Prince Philip before them, it is clearly the key to their success. Unlike royal couples of old, the Cambridge’s have never positioned themselves as individuals with similar interests, but instead a loving couple whose independent interests exist in a partnership. Put simply, if you want William, you get Catherine also, and vice versa.

The future of the Monarchy is always hazed with a sprinkle of uncertainty and smooth sailing is never assured, but who knows what the future holds. The regal sea of royal capriciousness is always set to bring storms and waves, but with William and Catherine behind the helm as Royal Captain and First Mate, you can guarantee the Windsor Galleon will always find its way to calmer waters.

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