Stepping out in a white, one-shouldered Alexander McQueen dress, The Duchess of Cambridge eclipsed every Hollywood star on the BAFTA red carpet. She was described as a ‘Grecian Goddess’, a Duchess that ‘dazzled’ and ‘breath-taking’, but what made Kate’s appearance wasn’t just the dress or the shoes, or the Queen’s bracelet, or even Diana’s iconic South Pearl earrings. No, something was different about the Duchess of Cambridge, not just external, but internal. With each graceful step she took, it became apparent that here was a woman who had blossomed into a Queen-in-waiting.
It is hard to argue any wrongdoing on Kate’s part when it comes to her Royal role. To say she hasn’t put a foot wrong would be an astronomical understatement. Since her marriage to Prince William in 2011, she has acted with regal perfection whilst becoming the most photographed woman in the World.
But, throughout her time as a member of the Royal Family, Kate has somewhat been shadowed by the memory of her mother-in-law, Diana, Princess of Wales. It has been an unfair comparison and an image that no Royal can successfully live up to. Yet, in the last year Kate has begun to step into the light and away from the Diana image.
Yes, fashion-wise, like the McQueen dress she wore at this year’s BAFTAs, similarities are inevitably going to be made. But that’s as deep as they go.
Kate is different to the People’s Princess. The Media is less intrusive and the Duchess herself is much less open to them. Unlike Diana, Kate has never invited the Press in. That door has remained tightly locked, and it has benefitted her immensely. But how? The answer lies with her sister-in-law, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.
In recent days reports have been “leaked” to the US Media outlet People Magazine, detailing Meghan and her husband, Prince Harry’s private lives. The report which painted the Duchess as an almost ‘Mother Theresa’ figure who can do no wrong has certainly had the opposite effect Meghan and her friends were hoping for. It didn’t endear her to the public or Press, but instead invited them further in.
Then came the revelation of a personal letter she had written to her estranged father, Thomas Markle Snr. And once again, instead of diminishing rumours and negative talk around Meghan, it ignited the flames even further. Written in sweeping Calligraphy, the letter discussed her anguish and pain at the ‘lies’ being told about her. The style of writing and the discussion of the letter, originally mentioned in the People Magazine article a day earlier, left many feeling that Meghan had always known that at one point the five-page note would be revealed by her father, who had consistently spoken to the Press.
The backlash from Royal commentators and reporters has been huge, with many criticising the Duchess for baiting the Media. But there hasn’t just been criticism; there has also been comparison, and here is where Kate overshadows.
Since she first appeared on the Royal scene as the girlfriend of Prince William, Kate has been the subject of article after article. She has been mocked, shamed, pursued endlessly by photographers and faced a barrage of trolling online, but unlike Meghan she has remained absolute. Her lips have never opened and we haven’t heard so much as a whisper of a complaint. Even in the midst of her short breakup from William in 2007, Kate was phoned by a journalist asking for comment. Her reply was polite, but unwavering in her silence. She had never spoken to the Press before and wasn’t going to start now, she explained.
And as fate played out with her wedding and the births of her three children, Kate has remained the same, and the Media having realised no scandalous gossip surrounded the Duchess of Cambridge, she has been left alone.
There is a saying that all Press is good Press. Yet when it comes to the World of Royalty that couldn’t be further from the truth. Bad Press is bad Press, and this is something Meghan has yet to learn. Sadly, she is choosing to learn the hard way. Both she and Harry are playing a dangerous game of Poker, and owning the card of victimhood is the same as having a full deck of Jokers – you’ll never win.
Kate however, seems to be flourishing. There is an element of newfound confidence in the Duchess. She stands taller, strides stronger and smiles broader. She is a woman comfortable in her skin, her life and ultimately – her Royal role. Let’s not forget, Kate Middleton, the young middle-class girl raised in Berkshire, will one day become Queen Catherine.
Her life, image and resolve will be recorded, reported and pictured until the day she dies. She will be denied the luxurious anonymity that Harry and Meghan will enjoy as the years go by. Her every decision will affect the lives of the United Kingdom in some way, and she will forever be judged by them. This realisation makes you appreciate how over-the-top the recent, “Meghan’s treatment is like Diana’s” argument is.
By her actions, Meghan is willingly feeding into this narrative and is demolishing barriers between herself and the Press at a rapid pace, more so than Diana ever did. Kate's walls however, stand firm. And it is because of this that most of the Press coverage of the Cambridge’s is positive. It is why Kate gets labelled an ‘English rose’. It is why she outshines the Hollywood elite. Our future Queen isn’t playing up to a perception, she isn’t acting to fit a mould shaped like Diana – she is Kate and for her that’s good enough.
As the Duchess of Cambridge seemingly floated down the red carpet of the BAFTAs, she beamed and waved to the crowds. There wasn’t a trace of scandal, of negativity or worry. But even if there was, we would’ve never have known it, and this is where Kate’s success lies. ‘Never complain, never explain’ is the Mantra that has dominated the Queen’s Reign, and it has ensured hers is one of continuity. The same can be said for the Duchess of Cambridge.
In many ways Kate is like Diana, her fashion, her appeal, her skills as a mother. But Kate has a confidence that her late mother-in-law was desperately looking for, and tragically in all the wrong places. Kate knows her future and she owns it. She doesn’t try to be something she’s not, knowing full well that who she is, is enough. And she has blossomed because of it.
The Duchess of Cambridge is a woman who will never be the “People’s Princess” or “the Queen of People’s Hearts”, they are titles already taken and deservedly befitting of Princess Diana. But Kate is marked for something else – Queen. For unlike Diana, Kate will one day sit beside her husband on the Thrones of Monarchy, and here is where her star and power will eclipse even that of her late mother-in-law, as not a Queen of hearts , but a Queen we can all be proud to call our own.