The Duchess of Cambridge has proved to everyone that she is ready for the next two phases of her royal life.
A decade at the heart of the British monarchy has taught her to navigate the ways of pomp and ceremony while forging her own path towards the future.
But as she enters her own fifth decade in January, she knows the greatest challenges are yet to come.
When the Second Elizabethan Age ends and King Charles III takes the throne, Kate’s first test will be inheriting a title suffused with symbolism and sadness.
She will become the new Princess of Wales – a role that instantly conjures up the memory of her late mother-in-law.
And as she dons the iconic mantle of the People’s Princess, she must find a way to honour Diana while making it her own.
“That is the transition which is potentially hardest,” says royal expert Duncan Larcombe.
“Kate has always been sensitive about being compared to Diana, and while she often pays tribute through jewellery and clothes, she’d never try to fill her shoes.”
When Camilla Parker-Bowles married Charles in April 2005, she insisted she would not be called the Princess of Wales out of respect for Diana’s memory.
And when Charles takes the throne she will not be crowned beside him but styled Princess Consort, again in deference to the Queen of Hearts.
But Kate will one day have a coronation, as queen consort to King William V. While that day could still be a quarter of a century away, Kate knows she has the strength to bear the crown.
So many things are going to change for Kate as Queen. She and William will take up residence at Buckingham Palace – although Prince Charles recently made clear it will become “a flat above the office” for the monarchy he is slimming down.
Kate will no longer have to curtsey to anyone, she and William will inherit unimaginable wealth and she will be the keeper of the most historic jewellery collection on the planet.
There is even an ancient law that gives her rights to “the tails of sturgeons, dolphins, and whales” which swim in British waters…though she’s perfectly happy to let the actual owners keep them.
“Kate is very pragmatic,” says Duncan. “So while she’s prepared for change, she tries to focus on the more immediate future – her family and her work.”
So what does the immediate future look like?
“Kate threw herself back into her royal duties once Covid restrictions eased,” says author Katie Nicholl.
“And we can expect to see much more of her out and about, alone and with William. This is her opportunity to lay real foundations for the future through the work of the Royal Foundation, which she sees as her legacy project.
“We will also see the Cambridges taking on more politically sensitive tours in place of Her Majesty – becoming the nation’s new ‘weapons of soft diplomacy’.
“A family move to Windsor is also on the cards. William and Kate want to be on hand to support the Queen as much as possible and for her to spend time with her great-grandchildren.
“For some time they have felt a bit claustrophobic at Kensington Palace and they have been looking at schools in Windsor. And being in Berkshire would mean Kate is closer to her own family.”
Katie continues, “The Cambridges are already gearing up for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. But there is still a lingering concern that it could be overshadowed by Prince Andrew’s problems and the publication of Prince Harry’s autobiography. Kate desperately wants to see William and Harry heal their rift – she is a natural peacemaker.
“And, as next August marks the 25th anniversary of Diana’s death, she hopes they will have sorted things out properly by then.”
As Kate’s life changes dramatically over the course of the next decade, there is one duty that will never alter – being a devoted, hands-on mum to her three children.
She and William are slowly and gently explaining to Prince George what his royal future holds.
And making sure that he is fully prepared for his destiny as King is always at the forefront of Kate’s mind.
“That really struck me after seeing George in his first grown-up suit with his parents at the Euros final in July,” says Duncan Larcombe.
“People were asking why they hadn’t let him wear an England shirt ‘like a normal eight-year-old’.
“William was apparently keen on the idea, but it was Kate, the former commoner, who said no. She was showing George that being ’on duty’ requires a different approach… he has to learn to don the royal armour.
“That doesn’t mean hiding his personality or feelings though – so George was encouraged to leap up and celebrate England scoring, to roar and wave and hug his mum and dad like any normal lad. And even to shed a tear when it all ended in heartbreak.
“George is only just beginning to understand his destiny, but Kate has got the journey planned.”
And, as her own journey unfolds, it is clear the duchess knows the direction she wants to follow.
“It’s all about children and family,” says Katie Nicholl.
“Something special happens to Kate when she is around children – she lights up and opens up. I watched her at a children’s centre in Cardiff and she has a natural affinity with children. She forgets about the cameras and isn’t at all self-conscious. She gets down on her knees and engages eye-to-eye and is really, really impressive.
“Of course, there are echoes of Diana, but Kate has realised that this is her calling – a campaign for the rest of her life.”
Some royal fans on social media have given Kate the nickname the “Children’s Princess”. And when she finally takes her throne beside William they will doubtless find another.
Kate would never dream of inheriting Diana’s most famous title. But an affectionate and admiring public may decide for themselves to crown her Queen of Hearts.
For all the latest on Kate Middleton's 40th birthday celebrations, sign up to OK!'s brand new Royals newsletter.
Source: Read Full Article