The Duchess of Cambridge is Just Getting Started
As the Duchess of Cambridge turns 40, we look at how her transformation marks the beginning of her reign as the diamond of The Royal Family.
JANUARY 3rd, 2022
hat you do isn’t for the quick win, it’s for the big win.” When the Duchess of Cambridge spoke these words, she was addressing an Early Years forum for The Royal Foundation. At the time, she was discussing the success of those within the childcare sector, an area she has increasingly grown to support, and how they had achieved breakthroughs over decades, not days. She also spoke on how brave it must be to strive for change, knowing that the achievements attained will most likely be felt long after those who achieved them have gone. Catherine’s keynote speech was given in 2020, during lockdown, and as she approaches her fortieth birthday in a matter of days, it is remarkable how those simple sentences could easily be applied to her own evolution within the confines of Britain’s oldest and feverishly speculated institution.
Watching today’s Catherine Elizabeth Middleton, it is easy to see the comparable difference to the young, carefree girlfriend of the future King William. The fun, carefree elements still shine, but as she has grown older there is a steel of determined poise, discipline and carefulness that has become her greatest assets. It is interesting to see, where once many within the social circles of Monarchy and the media, mocked Catherine as a “commoner”, “hanger-on”; simply waiting for her beloved Prince, and whose ambition stemmed no further than beyond the altar of Westminster Abbey, they have since slowly but surely come to realise they couldn’t have been more wrong.
She has, for over a decade now, purposefully and expertly navigated the world of monarchy with careful and determined resolution. Each step has been proficiently crafted to maximise her potential, whilst enabling her time and space to grow and nurture a position in society which will come to define her life. You see, for Catherine, the luxury of limited time doesn’t apply. Unlike other royal brides who have come after her, the spotlight of fame and expectation will never abate. It is ceaseless, everlasting and will hone in at all times against her will. For her entire life, she will be seen as a vital support network, not only for a future King William, but the public she will help lead. There will be no permanent exit, not even after the reign of her husband, as her son Prince George will then take the throne, and her position at the heart of the monarchy will adapt once more.
It is a life of servitude, a heavy burden which may look glamourous from the outside, but can be, at times, arduous on the inside. And yet, in the last few years alone, the Duchess of Cambridge has balanced that pressure seemingly with ease. Rarely has a complaint or retort left her lips against unfair or unprovoked attacks. She has smiled, been courteous and extended olive branch after olive branch. In the last few years alone, she has proved her worth to the crown and the country tenfold. It is no wonder that many within the institution look at the Duchess of Cambridge as the saving grace of the monarchy, as well as those outside it too.
Over the last ten years Catherine has been a leading light in supporting the country and the many communities residing within it. From passionately endorsing the importance of the Early Years, becoming the “most important women doing this in the world right now”, according to Professor Peter Fonagy, the Anna Freud Centre’s CEO, to the launch of the best-selling book Hold Still, which reached out to the public to submit photos capturing their time in lockdown for a “snapshot of the country’s response to these unprecedented times”, as the Duchess described the project; Catherine has taken her focus to the heart of the United Kingdom – the British public. This approach is proof that she has understood where the success of monarchy and public service thrives, much like the Queen and the late Duke of Edinburgh. It ultimately isn’t about herself. She understands that her hopes, dreams and aspirations aren’t important to the public, but theirs are to her.
Of all the admirable qualities that the Duchess possesses, it is perhaps her quiet demeanour that shines brightest. She is far from a show-off, and when she rarely does, it is conducted with genuine charm. Whether it is playing the piano at a Christmas Carol service or stepping out at a James Bond premiere in a spectacular golden gown, resembling an ethereal goddess, Catherine never tries to be the centre of attention, she just is.
In these testing times, specifically for the Royal Family; what with Prince Andrew’s ongoing entanglement with the Jeffrey Epstein/Ghislaine Maxwell crimes, and Harry and Meghan’s less than peaceful exit from the monarchy, the value of the Duchess of Cambridge, as well as the Duke, has been a remedy to the torrent of stormy waters. And the last few years has highlighted another element of success harboured by the next Princess of Wales – teamwork.
In the past, we have seen jealousy, frustration and anger split relations within the monarchy; Charles and Diana being a prime example of how a partnership obsessed with one-upmanship can end in tragedy. The mistakes of the past have alluded the Cambridges, even when fanciful and fictional rumours have swirled. On New Year’s Eve, the couple shared a delightful photo of the Duke and Duchess travelling to the James Bond premiere. Holding hands, affectionally leaning into one another and beaming with bright smiles, it was a picture of happiness that no amount of photoshop could fake. It spoke a thousand words, here was a couple who had each other’s backs, fronts and sides. Impenetrable.
For the Duchess of Cambridge, it is clear to see that her children and her husband come first; their needs, acutely placed before her own. It is demonstrated through her willingness to remain a step behind her Prince, much like the Duke of Edinburgh with the Queen. It is her determination to take her children to and from school, to provide as much privacy as possible whilst they are in the throes of childhood. It is the inclusion of the Middleton clan in every aspect of her family life, royal or not, and the understanding that, when the time comes, her role as Queen and her husbands as King will define her more than any other.
As she turns forty, it seems a lifetime ago when we collectively watched the twenty-eight-year-old Miss Catherine Elizabeth Middleton walk down that famous aisle set against the grandeur of Westminster Abbey. A woman whose endearing nervousness was completely relatable, and yet quiet purpose illuminated the world as if she had stepped from a fairy-tale. For the last ten years, the Duchess of Cambridge has actively paved her own path, avoiding the pitfalls of those once laid before her. She has refused to live in anyone’s shadow, instead unapologetically, yet gently casting her own. She has earned the respect of the public through endorsing the very same message she professed to the Early Years forum: “What you do isn’t for the quick win, it’s for the big win.” And through that, slowly, but surely begun to define the role she was born to be – a Queen.
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