A recent profile of Kate Middleton by Tatler has gotten everyone talking. The profile tries to explain what a significant role she plays in the royal family. While it is in many ways flattering, it also seems to continuously highlight that Kate’s not happy with her current workload and points fingers at who is to blame.
“It’s easy to forget, with the all-encompassing threat and disruption of the [global health] crisis, that this tumultuous time follows an extremely busy period for William and Kate. In the wake of Harry and Meghan standing down as senior royals and seeking exile in North America, Kate took on 11 royal engagements in a month — three in the space of 24 hours,” the article notes.
That sounds like a busy couple of days. It signals that Kate will likely see more than the 56 engagements she completed in 2019. That 56 is more than Meghan’s officially recorded 28 engagements for the same year when she was pregnant and on maternity leave and at odds with the establishment, but less than the 83 she actually completed in 2019, according to the Times and royal expert Tim O’Donovan.
“It was a gruelling attempt to buffer the barrage of bad news destabilising the House of Windsor on a near-daily basis: the divorces (the Queen’s nephew Lord Snowdon and her grandson Peter Phillips); Prince Andrew’s mortifying fall from grace; the Sussexes’ surly press statements; and those naff Chinese milk adverts,” the article, written by Anna Pasternak, continues.
“Amid it all, Kate has emerged serene and smiling.”
But wouldn’t pointing out that smiling, serene Kate is working so much because of everyone else’s messiness sound a little like complaining?
“As a good friend of hers points out, ‘Kate knows what the country needs and wants. Championing how to raise your children is perfect,'” the article later notes in a discussion of how the workload may be impacting Kate behind the scenes.
“Yet, privately, said another friend, ‘Kate is furious about the larger workload. Of course she’s smiling and dressing appropriately but she doesn’t want this. She feels exhausted and trapped. She’s working as hard as a top CEO, who has to be wheeled out all the time, without the benefits of boundaries and plenty of holidays.”
The article continuously points to Kate’s consistency as her strength. Later, it points out that her dedication to being adaptable has led many to feel disconnected from her.
“One member of the young royal set says: ‘I’ve spent quite a lot of time around Kate and she is impenetrable. There is nothing to like or dislike,'” Anna writes.
“Yet, the source continues, she has a ruthless survival streak, just like the House of Windsor. It’s why she is so well suited. She keeps her head down because the prize of being queen is so great. She models herself on the Queen and now speaks like the Queen.'”
No one can go wrong modeling themselves after Queen Elizabeth, but it’s yet to show in Kate’s public persona, which makes it difficult to defend her against claims that she’s “Duchess Dolittle.”
“In person, Catherine is a bit warmer and slightly more fun than in public, but you are aware that she is always aware of how careful she has to be,” says a family friend quoted in the article.
“There is a level of control that she has to retain. I don’t think she’d know how to fully let her guard down now, even if she wanted to.”
In another area of the piece, the conversation turns to the larger Middleton family. A quote about Prince William’s relationship with his mother-in-law, Carole, sticks out.
“I’ve heard that Prince William is obsessed with Carole. She’s the mummy he always wanted,” the quote from another family friend states. It seems sweet, but also like a bit of a dig at the late Princess Diana.
This happens again later in the article, where Anna wonders why Kate is so afraid to showcase more of her personality. “Maybe this is a defence against appearing like Diana, Princess of Wales, who put The Firm’s backs up by being over-emotional, volatile, vulnerable and skittishly complex. But God, she was loved for it.”
Perhaps one of the most fascinating and, to the royal family, likely horrifying points of the article is how many people close to Kate reportedly chose to say their piece. Later on, a number of “friends” and close relations to the couple slam Harry and Meghan.
“‘Meghan and Harry have been so selfish,’ says a friend of the Cambridges. ‘William and Catherine really wanted to be hands-on parents and the Sussexes have effectively thrown their three children under a bus. There goes their morning school runs as the responsibilities on them now are enormous.'”
But weren’t the responsibilities on William and Kate always supposed to be enormous? Since they are the future king and queen, which Meghan and Harry are not, the press relentlessly explained away why the Cambridges received better treatment than the Sussexes.
Also, William and Kate are constantly pointing out what hands-on parents they are. They are hands-on when school is in session, hands-on when homeschooling, hands-on about the early childhood years. How can they simultaneously be too busy to be hands-on while celebrating how hands-on they are at all turns?
It’s safe to say this article spelled out a lot of problems for the royal family. It made Kate appear petty in many aspects, thanks to her supposed closest confidantes. If her friends and friends of her family all think Kate is closed off and annoyed with the Sussexes, how is the public expected not to draw similar conclusions?
It’s all of the subtle but problematic implications on Kate’s feelings and demeanor that the article raises that likely became the driving force behind Kensington Palace’s rare statement on the piece.
“This story contains a swathe of inaccuracies and false misrepresentations which were not put to Kensington Palace prior to publication,” a palace spokesperson said in a statement to Entertainment Tonight.
As staunchly as Kensington Palace set out to shut down the article, Tatler has defended it.
“Tatler‘s Editor-in-Chief Richard Dennen stands behind the reporting of Anna Pasternak and her sources. Kensington Palace knew we were running the ‘Catherine the Great’ cover months ago and we asked them to work together on it. The fact they are denying they ever knew is categorically false,” a spokesperson replied in a statement to ET.
The mention of Richard Dennen is interesting because he has a connection to Kate. The two were also friends at St. Andrews, and Richard has even spoken out about their friendship before.
In 2011, before he rose in the ranks at Tatler, he told CNN, “I haven’t seen her lose her temper with a photographer or lash out. In a way she’s the perfect consort for Prince William because she’s not a risky choice: she’s smart and she’s level-headed and she’s well behaved.”
Critics of Kate and the royal family note that they did nothing to refute reports that disparaged Meghan during her time in The Firm. Despite the fact that sources for some of those stories are allegedly from the same circles (Kate’s and Carole’s) that were cited in the Tatler piece, official condemnations only came from Harry and Meghan themselves.
Some see this as Kate reaping what she’s sewn. If she and William wanted the spotlight to themselves, and especially if they aided in driving Harry and Meghan away to get it, they’ve made the bed they now have to lie in.
Those defending Kate believe that this was an attack. Some believe it was orchestrated by Meghan, which seems unlikely since the Sussexes have made it clear how they feel about the press, especially outlets that have gone out of their way to disparage them in the past.
Amid all of this controversy, one thing is for certain. We are bound to see another rebirth from Kate to prove these claims false.