Royal Corner

Slow and Steady Wins the Royal Race

Is the Duchess of Cambridge's slow and steady approach the secret to her growing success?

OCTOBER 1st, 2020

The Duchess of Cambridge speaks to a Scout member - © Getty Images


he age-old tale of the tortoise and the hare has long been the metaphorical lesson in the art of taking your time. The hare, galloping and speeding from the starting line, exuding confidence that it will win the race, eventually wears itself out and falls asleep before reaching the finish line. The tortoise, although slow and sluggish, takes its time and without stopping, in the end, takes the victory. The simple story’s moral lesson is that you can be more successful by doing things slowly and steadily, instead of acting quickly and carelessly.

The tortoise and the hare can be applied to most walks of life, including royalty, and the Duchess of Cambridge is a blinding example of the success of its moral teachings. Earlier this week, Catherine was bestowed the highest position in the UK’s Scouting Association – Joint President. Taking up the prestigious role alongside the Duke of Kent, the position marked the achievement of a long-established partnership between the Scouts and the Duchess.

The Duchess of Cambridge visits Northolt, West London - © The Royal Family Channel

Coinciding with a visit to Northolt, West London, where the Duchess toasted marshmallows and helped make cards to send to a local care home, Catherine spoke of her delight at being given the role, saying: “When I volunteered with the Scouts on Anglesey eight years ago, I was struck by the huge impact the organisation has on inspiring young people to support their communities and achieve their goals.

“I am delighted to be joining the Duke of Kent as joint president of the Association and look forward to working with Scouts across the country as they strive to make a positive difference to our society.”

Reading her statement, it was hard not to miss one outstanding element – her longevity when working with the Scouts. It’s incredible to believe that almost ten years have passed since The Royal Family welcomed Catherine Middleton into the fold of the monarchy. What is also astonishing is her royal relationship with the Scouts also harkens back just as long. On the announcement of her first patronages on January 4th 2012; alongside Action on Addiction, East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices, The Art Room and The National Portrait Gallery – all of which she became Royal patron of – there was also the announcement that the Duchess would become a volunteer with the Scout Association. Volunteering in her private time with groups in north Wales – close to where she and Prince William were living at the time – Catherine would become a Scout Leader.

In what perhaps was the first glimpse into the Duchess’ slow and steady mantra, she politely refused to accept an offered patronage alongside the Queen. Her reason for doing so was simple; she wished to understand how the Scouts operated and learn more about the Association before taking on an official role. For the Duchess, at the time, she felt she didn’t have the knowledge to help create a meaningful impact within the Association, and becoming a Scout Leader was more than enough of an honour.

The Duchess celebrated the 100th anniversary of The Scouts Association in 2016 - © Ben Stansall -WPA Pool/Getty Images

This attitude has trickled its way onto the careful path she has chosen to take in navigating her life as a royal – walk before you can run. It is an outlook which has solidified her as a trustworthy and unproblematic royal, a member who many believe is the institution’s saving grace.

When it comes to her patronages and the projects she promotes, they aren’t bandwagons she chooses to leap upon, determined by what is fashionable one week, and not the next. She takes her time establishing a relationship, gently laying the groundwork for any future successes. Catherine understands that royal life is far from a sprint, but arguably the longest marathon there is. Her entire life will be resolutely placed within the confines of the monarchy, it will indelibly be shaped by it and she understands that there is plenty of time to achieve her end goals.

Although, there is also a greater reasoning for this approach. Catherine has actively been someone who allows her work to speak louder than her voice, in affect her patronages have become her speeches and declarations. In doing so she has managed to navigate the minefield which is currently exploding all around her brother and sister-in-law. She hasn’t fallen for the trap of “hitting the ground running”, and whilst in business that attitude may work well, royalty is an altogether different model.

This approach was acknowledged from as early as her engagement interview in 2010. When asked about how she feels regarding her future role, Catherine’s response has since become increasingly telling: “I really hope I can make a difference, even in the smallest way.” It seems almost a decade later that she still feels the same.

“She doesn’t really enjoy doing grand gestures, it isn’t part of her work ethic or personality,” claims a former royal aide. “In fact, she used to nickname any approach like that as “a firework” – yes, it explodes with a loud bang, but it only lasts a few seconds.”

The Duchess privately volunteered with the Association in 2012 and took part in events in North Wales - © WENN

Her impact lasting “a few seconds” is not the aim for the Duchess of Cambridge – longevity is, and she has finally found a working pathway to ensure it. It is perhaps what makes her a perfect fit for the royal family and eventually Queen Consort. Through her work, it is evident that her focus is on the long-term – not years from now, but decades.

Over the past eight years working with The Scout Association, the Duchess of Cambridge has established a working model which both fits her personality and enables sustainable impact. Her role as Joint President not only provides her with the platform to help mould and improve the Association for the future, but throughout their years of partnership, she now has the knowledge and experience to understand how and when best to introduce it. Put simply, if given the choice, always pick the tortoise, especially if you’re royal.

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