A recent Tatler profile about Kate Middleton has caused quite a royal stir. The piece by Anna Pasternak, titled “Catherine the Great,” seems like a piece praising Kate for taking on so much more in the wake of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s departure as senior royals. While the article certainly touches on the work Kate does, it does so through the eyes of her friends, which is where things get interesting.
“Kate is furious about the larger workload. Of course she’s smiling and dressing appropriately but she doesn’t want this,” it quotes a friend as saying.
“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.”
To regular working people, suggesting that Kate is “working as hard as a top CEO” is laughable.
But to the “Turnip Toffs,” as Kate’s Norfolk network of friends is known, it may have been a legitimate hardship they see Kate going through. There is evidence sprinkled throughout the article to indicate they were, at minimum, some of the sources painting the unclear picture of Kate that emerges from the article.
A “friend of the Cambridges” casually commented on what sparked the alleged feud between Kate and Meghan Markle. While the public has long known of a falling out involving Princess Charlotte and the royal wedding, the details were very casually offered up here.
“Then there was an incident at the wedding rehearsal. It was a hot day and apparently there was a row over whether the bridesmaids should wear tights or not. Kate, following protocol, felt that they should. Meghan didn’t want them to.”
Later, they claimed Kate blames Harry and Meghan for her and William not being able to spend as much time with their children due to their increased workload.
“Meghan and Harry have been so selfish,” the friend said. “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.”
Some of the comments from Kate’s friends, while used as exposition in the article, are actually quite telling and snippy. The comments on Kate’s upbringing seem like quite a pointed dig.
“Kate is one of us in the sense that all her friends are Sloanes and aristocrats. She’s very much decided that that’s her tribe, even though she wasn’t actually born into that background.”
The Turnip Toffs are later mentioned by name. “Then there’s her ‘Turnip Toff’ crowd, the Norfolk Sloanes, including Sophie Carter and Robert Snuggs, who live near Anmer Hall. And the Cambridges’ glamorous Houghton Hall neighbors, Rose Hanbury and her husband, the Marquess of Cholmondeley — with whom there was an alleged falling-out last year, over Rose’s apparent closeness to William. The whole of Norfolk was agog and the story spilled over into the newspapers. No party has commented publicly on the matter.”
It’s bold of Tatler to mention the alleged William and Rose affair, especially in a piece that Kensington Palace may have had knowledge of, considering how quickly that story was snuffed out. It’s so bold that you have to question why the publication would go for it without any evidence to back it up. Talk from those whose social circle was most immediately scandalized by the rumor would be some pretty good backup.
There are also quite a few digs at Kate’s family. “Pippa now speaks like the Queen, too, and is absolutely paranoid about the paparazzi,” one friend dished.
“She refers to her sister as Catherine or ‘the duchess’ in public, which feels too regal and try-hard. Pippa is a bit lost now and is struggling to find her place. She’s always in the shadow as someone’s sister or someone’s wife. But they are all utterly loyal to each other.”
“The Middleton family will always close ranks,” the friend continues. “None of them can quite believe that they have hit the jackpot, so between Kate, Pippa, and Carole there is an unspoken bond. A sort of ‘We have to bring it to fruition at all costs.'”
Kensington Palace’s denial of the information in the article is interesting on a number of fronts. For one, such backing was never provided to Meghan Markle in the various slams against her, which is telling in itself.
It’s also of note because the palace has actually made two denials. One was through an anonymous source, while the other was an official statement. “This story contains a swathe of inaccuracies and false misrepresentations which were not put to Kensington Palace prior to publication,” the spokesperson noted.
Many publications might back down with a public call-out by Kensington Palace, but Tatler did no such thing. The publication even name-dropped its editor, who happens to be an old friend of Kate’s.
“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.”
One of two things seems possible here. One is that Kensington Palace agreed with certain aspects of the article. It isn’t beyond the palace to look the other way when the Sussexes are being bashed. It may have given access to Kate’s circle but pulled out after seeing what these quotes make her look like.
Another possibility is that many of the sources close to Kate were willing to talk regardless of the official stance, just to get their side out there. The magazine has a known aristocratic following, with Daily Mail noting, “Tatler is read by the Duchess’s friends and lies around in the drawing rooms of the country houses she and William visit.”
This may have been a way for disgruntled friends to air their grievances, embarrass Kate, and let her know her background will always keep her from being a true Toff, which bizarrely seems to be the sentiment among them, based on their statements.
In either instance, the fact that this is how some of those closest to her perceive her is something that should trouble The Firm. Kate didn’t emerge from this piece as “a Kingmaker,” by any stretch of the imagination.
The article highlighted her significant role in the royal family but at the cost of making her appear entitled and out of touch. It will be years and years yet until Kate rises to queen consort, but profiles like these make her journey there that much more difficult as she and William continue to try to win public devotion.