“I’m willing to learn quickly and work hard”
With her mother as a role model for working women and the chance to bond with Sophie, Prince Edward’s wife, there was a justifiable expectation that with such examples Kate would flower into an efficient working Duchess and help the royal family connect on a closer level with ordinary people. During the time of the engagement, Kate participated in a series of appearances with William, visiting her old university St. Andrews, enjoying the christening of a newly designed lifeboat, and pancake tossing. The wife to be was making a show of being more than ready for royal life of frequent trips and mingling enthusiastically with the crowds and all signs pointed toward a hardworking future.
Right after her marriage nothing was expected, other than a return to Anglesey where Kate and William had long established their own intimate life, but due to a sudden change in preference, the newly married ducal couple set off on a tour of Canada and then in the role of President of BAFTA, to Los Angeles, California to meet the film community of Hollywood entertainers.
Kate had been moved into a set of routine appearances with the royal family after her honeymoon, mainly the usual yearly appearances done by the royal family (Ascot/Trooping the Color), but the desire for an overseas tour was in fact a pleasant surprise; the courtiers saw this as a welcome sign that the newly minted duchess was ready to begin regular appearances and end up contributing normally as a working member of the Royal Family, nicknamed “The Firm.”
After the whirlwind tour, which went off well, the couple returned, but not to work. William went back to his RAF work and Wales, while Kate ended up taking frequent trips to London. It was unanticipated that Kate would suddenly pick up stakes and move to London, after turning down the chance to be part of the officer’s club that the wives of William’s fellow officers formed as a means of showing support to one another as their husbands put their lives at risk for the sake of the country. Kate was immediately offered membership, but the duchess snubbed the offer and almost right away returned to London, even missing William’s birthday. With William in Wales and occupied with his military work, it was assumed the Duchess would spend her time either in Wales keeping house, or she would spend her time with the Court working on developing her own agenda and use the vast support system of the palace to carry it out successfully. That she was doing neither came as a disconcerting surprise.
Kate’s carefree presence in London did surprise many members of the royal court, since it was expected that Kate would be working as a housewife and spending time with the other military wives (to support each other while husbands were overseas), yet many watchers were stunned that Kate returned to live mainly in London spent almost no time with her husband. In royal and aristocratic circles a wife’s place is by the side of her husband and it was a large surprise that Kate, who had often been glued at the hip with William, was suddenly leaving him home alone and deciding to live it up in London and essentially snubbing the other military wives. Leaving William alone to cook a frozen dinner on his birthday was considered neglecting the running of the house in Wales and she was slacking off from her duties as a consort. Friends of William knew all too well the problems William’s unstable upbringing had on him, causing a subsequent craving for a healthy home life and as a new wife Kate was considered the ideal candidate to provide it.
Seeing the Duchess shopping and entertaining herself around London made her promises look suddenly false and there were whispers that Kate had indeed presented William (and by proxy the Queen and public) with false intentions. As someone who had been a fixture in the London social scene for a decade, the courtiers had assumed she would be done with the frivolity that surrounded her single life, but instead she seemed to return to it, with a vengeance. Her nights were not spent at the clubs, but there had been a sense that cynics were right, Kate was in fact shirking her responsibilities as a royal duchess. While shopping, lunching, visiting her family on weekends, and enjoying the cosmopolitan delights of the capital, she surprised the courtiers by shunning the office at St. James Palace and refusing to attend meetings to listen and discuss the issues surrounding the development of a twenty-first century monarchy.
Despite the grounds of Kensington Palace having a charity, Kate was never known to have visited and even ejected the charity from the very apartments she wanted for her own home (the former residence of Princess Margaret, sister of the Queen) and the public relations officers had cited asbestos as being the reason, despite the fact that such problems had never before been detected. Despite her proximity, she never visited Buckingham Palace and failed to end up meeting with the courtiers who knew of her presence in London, but didn’t presume to summon her to talk about her future plans (such a summons is the prerogative of the Sovereign) and it was well known that the new royal would be allowed to find her own footing and comfort zone of royal patronages. Despite the fact that she was insecure in palace circles, Duchess Kate didn’t immediately move to solidify her standing with the public, deciding to instead begin the routine lifestyle of a lady who lunches. Kate spent her mornings at the Kensington Palace cottage and after dressing would summon her security officer and leave the palace grounds to enjoy the city scene, this time as a royal duchess.
Much of the surprise came from Court circles, where Kate was notoriously short of allies. Despite friendly statements to the press about being close, various members of the royal family have been either distant or wrapped up in their own routines to really spend time with the Duchess as family members (in the way the Duchess is used to) or friends to spend time with. Since there were no children to care for, the Queen was known to be fairly shocked that Kate was ignoring her husband, who was supposed to have the first claim on her attention and presence. It’s well known that the Queen had devoted herself to her husband while he was stationed in Malta and even at the expense of caring for Charles who was an infant at the time. For Kate not to be taking advantage of the time she had the ability to spend with William with no pressure to do duties, it first irritated and began to anger the Queen considerably. Charles was no less irritated, since the Duchess was spending his money on her leisurely lifestyle, running up substantial grooming bills with her frequent trips to the salons and to the manicurist. The Queen became irritated when seeing the reports from the protection officers of the Duchess’ frivolous and activates in the city and her newly acquired (or until now dormant) expensive tastes.
Her protection officers kept the press at bay, but the palace waited for the duchess to visit palace offices, but their waiting and expectations were in vain. With William in Wales and occupied with his military work, it was assumed the Duchess would spend her time either in Wales keeping house, or she would spend her time with the Court working on developing her own agenda and use the vast support system of the palace to carry it out successfully. After six months of idleness, punctuated with the appearance with the rest of the royal family for reasons of state, by October it was clear that she had woefully under performed in comparison to her predecessor Diana.
Appearances can be draining and often stressful, but the new bride was known to the world already and the idea of the Duchess having to adjust to the spotlight was, to those among the royal court, absurd. The Duchess had been cooperation itself when it was floated that she attend a tour of Canada and the United States, but she became (and remains) stubborn about doing routine appearances at clinics and numerous scout meetings, coming up with excuses and in some occasions pleading stress and illness. However, she would look contradictory when seen out shopping and enjoying leisurely lunches at posh cafes, snapped by the photographers that were beginning to get pressured by royal lawyers to back off.
To be sure, Diana was Princess of Wales floundered during her early years due to the demands to perform and perform frequently (in addition to the eagerness for people to meet her), but Kate was also expected to move into the same work centered lifestyle and the expectations that Kate would start taking a lion’s share of duties off of the shoulders of senior members of the royal family existed. In the past there was Princess Margaret and various other active royals, but with the deaths of Princess Margaret and the recent streamlining in the number of working royals, the amount of royals available to do duties has decreased while the amount of engagements the public expects the royal family to perform and appear has remained the same. The Duchess has continued to shirk, only going with William to appearances as required, but the rest of Kate’s days are being spent just as when she was unmarried, shopping (often online in private), and lounging around Kensington Palace supervising the refurbishment of her new home.
Since William was a working member of the armed forces, no one expected him to work full time, but the Duchess obviously had plenty of time and money on her hands and she was understandably expected to start unburdening the Queen from her heavy workload and be ready for all public appearances during the upcoming Diamond Jubilee and ready to preside over the 2012 Olympics as a fully integrated working royal. Instead Kate cited her determination to be a housewife and only go to appearances when she was with William and used the false story that she would need William’s permission to end up working or developing her own agenda. This irritated courtiers with the fact that it was an obvious lie and she ended up getting a ticking off for using her husband as a reason for her slacking. It is rumored even that the Queen asked her why she wasn’t working and Kate snapped, “Stop nagging,” which stunned insiders at her act of lese majeste.
The occasional inquiry as to why their workload was so light triggered a reaction and the palace swung into action, pointing out that the couple had barely just been married and setting into a life of living together would take time to get used to. It was accepted, but the courtiers were beginning to get nervous, since anyone who had been a royal watcher knew that Kate had lived with William in Wales for years. The idea of Kate needing to get used to the spotlight was also considered a lame excuse, since the Duchess had been a frequent feature on the covers of tabloids for years. Excuses were given in the form that the Duchess needed time to adjust to royal life, but no one behind the scenes was as naïve as the public (who accepted the excuses with patience). Kate had long been a fixture in William’s life and had attended various official appearances such as Prince Williams’ investiture into the Order of the Garter and his graduation ceremony from Sandhurst long before. There had also been invitations to weddings and the Duchess was his escort on various vacations around the world.
Courtiers frantically scoured the charitable scene, determined to get Kate a respectable amount of patronages, but organizations were leery. Finally at last the courtiers managed to get her a solid amount, but it ended up being a huge amount of work just to get Kate willing to step into her office and do her paperwork and follow through on her promises to make her appearances. She appeared at various functions, met children with cancer and such, but didn’t look like she was putting anything of her inner self into these appearances and there were no follow ups that indicated that meeting the various people were of sincere interest. During one event with the scouts the Duchess brought along her new Cocker Spaniel, but spent much of the time sitting and moping around with the dog on her lap and she wasn’t engaged in any seemingly sincere manner, leading to bad reviews. Her heavily made up appearance detracted from the fun she was supposed to lead the scouts in and she acted like she was tagging along and just killing time.
At the end of 2011, the final tally of appearances that the new royal wife had made was a disappointing thirty-four, far less than that of the errant former Duchess of York, Sarah during her first year of marriage. Despite the usual expectation of charitable activity, only two appearances could be considered part of that since the rest were awards shows, part of overseas trips, and family events, showing a shocking disinterest and lack of motivation expected for a wife of a senior royal. Courtiers worked hard at securing her patronages and it’s undermined Kate’s authority and stature within the royal family. As a wife of a future King, Kate naturally has a clear status and authority, but she has had to deal with the handicap of not having the respect of the system. Within the Court, the lack of illustrious lineage, lack of impressive connections, and the dearth of any real connection with the public, Kate is in fact vulnerable to the endless machinations that swirl around the Court. Kate has zero respect of the palace system and she’s not entirely secure. A solid work background, however recently acquired, would give Kate respect she lacked when she married in.
Kate’s lack of professional background has in fact been unprecedented. All the young modern women who married into the royal family from Diana and Fergie since have had work backgrounds and Princess Margaret’s former husband (Lord Snowdon) was a professional photographer who continued to work as official photographer of the royal family after his marriage. Sophie, Countess of Wessex, ran her own PR firm and as a result, adjusted effortlessly into the routine work of royal life (after a brief and disastrous foray into film production with her husband Prince Edward and her attempt to continue her premarital career) and is viewed as the favorite of the Queen. Even Diana, as a teenager worked as a part time kindergarten assistant and nanny from age sixteen to nineteen (the time of her marriage); the fact that Kate had zero work background in recent times unsettled courtiers who are themselves career oriented in royal service. Kate had a brief stint at Jigsaw fashion, working as an assistant to the buyers of the business, but that was ended, the reason given that Kate could not cope with the press interest and alleged intrusiveness. The palace was silent about her lack of career, but insiders did wonder if whether or not Kate could cope with royal life since appearances are done with the press involved, to promote the charities and organizations the royals are supposed to work for and support via fundraising.
Kate explained herself as having difficulties relating to her coworkers and press harassment, but that was viewed as obvious silliness. “It’s not like dates with William involve him giving out state secrets via pillow talk and Kate was in fact viewed as being disdainful of the rest of the people she worked with. The girls would talk and laugh about their dates and weekend fun, but Kate would cut herself off and at times, even reject the chance to enter and leave work without being seen by entering and leaving through the back door. Instead she would make the usual press run and act like it was a bigger deal than it really was. It was considered a warning sign by the palace courtiers who wondered how Kate would do royal duties if she couldn’t handle the press,” whispers one insider.
After an early disappointment, the royal family was hopeful that the Duchess had simply had six months of adjustment and would settle in and get to regular work.
THE YEAR 2012 WILL BE COVERED IN THE NEXT PART OF THIS SERIES…………………
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