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Royal Holidays in Perspective

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Patterns are beautiful things. There is an order to them; they can be counted on, and they can help us understand situations that may seem confusing or tangled. There has been a backlash against the Cambridges over their surprise holiday in the Maldives "so soon after Kate's holiday in Mustique." But, the Royals have been vacationing in patterns. I want to put their vacations in categories  to determine if they have a pattern, and then plug those categories into the holidays they have taken during their marriage to determine just how crazy all this holidaying actually is. 

Vacation Categories:


Mustique
  • Absolute Staple Holiday: Middleton Family Vacation in Mustique in Late January/Early February: This holiday has been happening for years! The Middletons, like millions and millions of families around the world, take a beach holiday together once a year. Their destination might be a little more exclusive than the average vacation destination, but they have the means. Why let that beautiful island go to waste?

  • March is the Month to Ski: March is ski-season all over the world. If you love the sport and can scrape enough together to buy a ski pass, you are probably sneaking away for time on the slopes. The Royals and the Middletons are no different. They usually fit a ski-trip into their spring. 
Romance in French Wine Country
  • Romantic Holiday For Two: William and Kate, in one capacity or another, have taken a very private, just-the-two-of-them holiday every year of their marriage thus far.
Granny's Place: Balmoral, Scotland
  • Random trips to Scotland and/or Berkshire: Who doesn't go to visit granny now and again? Particularly if you have the regal type who never comes to you? We won't be addressing these types of vacations at all, they are equivalent to long weekends or Bank holiday breaks. 

So, those are the main categories. They aren't crazy or extravagant. There is no Drunk, Drug Fueled Weekend on Ibiza in there, which cannot be said of every wealthy inhabitant of planet earth. It's pretty par for the average course. The Cambridges have similar categories to many people all over the globe, they differ only in scale. We all vacation according to the scale our means afford. 

Now let's look to see the categories in action and see if there are patterns.  

2011
William and Kate honeymooned in the Seychelles (pretty much the perfect definition of the romantic holiday for two) after their April wedding. The next month they undertook their first overseas tour together.

2012 William and Kate hit every category.
Kate and William holiday with the Middletons in Mustique. (Family Holiday)
William and Kate joined the Middletons for a ski holiday after his return from the Falklands. (Ski Trip)
Late summer, William and Kate took a holiday in the Luberon before their South East Asia tour. (Romantic Get-Away For Two)

2013
William and a pregnant Kate holidayed with the Middletons in Mustqiue. (Family Holiday)
March: William and Kate attended a wedding in Switzerland that doubled as their ski holiday for the year. 

2014
Kate joined her family in Mustqiue, William had to stay behind for school. (Family Vacation)
March: Week in the Maldives, sans George, in the run-up to a really big overseas tour. (Romantic Get-Away For Two)
Unless they fly off for a late March ski-trip, which frankly seems very unlikely, it looks like they won't be ticking that box this year.

Putting it together:

So, that's what we are seeing emerging as the pattern for Mr. and Mrs. Cambridge. They really seem to take about three solid weeks of pure vacation. The Middleotn holiday is non-negotiable, which is why I argued that Kate would go with or without William this year, which she did. They like to take a ski trip. Usually it happens, sometimes it doesn't, other times it is a two-for-one deal, as in the case of the wedding in Switzerland. Lastly, it isn't a pattern yet, but there does seem a trend that William and Kate sneak away before a tour. They were on a tropical island honeymooning before Canada, they had (too much) fun in the sun in the Luberon just before South East Asia, and now they are in the Maldives before they head to Australia.

If you take a moment to actually look at the patterns, this vacation is not a shocking aberration at all., nor is it all that different from the rest of us.  Many people have a family holiday and in an ideal world try to fit in a get-away as a couple. It is true that some people can't make this all happen, but they would if they could! The Cambridges can, so what reason is there for them not to? In fact, given the stress that no doubt arises from their high-profile status and carefully watched lives, they may need that time alone to focus on their marriage more than the average couple. 

So again, it seems we have circled around to the ugly question: Why is this vacation so bad, why is "public opinion" so against this vacation? And don't be fooled, we are the public, our opinion is public opinion. If there is bad PR, we are creating it. Even if I had the flexibility, I don't think I could afford three trips a year, but if I could afford it, I would certainly enjoy this schedule! Three weeks of solid vacation is not that crazy, either, especially if you are in the financial bracket that the Cambridges are. (En fait, there are places in the world that take off un petit peu more, am I right? I love you, France. God bless you for your joie de vivre. :)) So why are we all huffing and puffing and trying to blow the Windsor house down? I can't afford all the McQueen, and Packham, and Mouret, and Burberry, and Cartier that Kate wears, but I sure enjoy watching her wear it all. You don't see me demanding she never put on a piece unless every average person can also afford it. This vacation isn't so different. We all vacation to our means, we dress to our means, and the royals are no exception. They do what we do, at their means. If we have a problem with it, it reflects more on our life-attitude than theirs. 

39 comments:

  1. Thank you Jane - 3 weeks holiday (ie 15 working days) is their norm. They like short breaks as they rarely go away for more than 5 or 6 days. So good to get the facts set out.

    You may not know but in the UK there is a statutory minimum holiday of 28 working days which can include UK's 8 Bank holidays (national holidays). That is just shy of 6 weeks holiday. For the US in particular that might be a surprise.

    Compared to most royals, they take v little time off. The Queen doesn't undertake any engagements between c.20th December until 7th February; she then goes to Scotland (again no public engagements) for July and August. That's not cos she's old - she's always done that.

    If they had cancelled engagements to go on holiday then I'd be mad. But they didn't. We were told that this was a transitional year so none of this should come as a surprise. I'd like to see them more often but Im not disappointed because I read the press release.

    I'm looking forward to the 17th and the tour. That will give also give some people a chance to find something else to moan about.



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    1. Comparing Kate timetable with the Queen is a joke, you know.

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    2. I don't think this point was a joke in any way. CP wasn't comparing work timetables, but making a very valid point about vacation time that EVERYONE takes. Queens and plebs. Kate has every right to holiday, particularly when she doesn't actually holiday all that much when compared to vacation schedules around the world. She has the means to go to more exotic locales, but if that is really the root of your dissatisfaction, it is hardly a becoming argument.

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    3. The queen works hard and on the flip side takes more time off. I just wish Kate had a bit of a work effort iand then their vacations would seem meager.

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  2. Why is so bad you asked? Because they have bad PR. She doesnt take on more engagements because she wants to be with PG. But she leaves him behind for a week and so on. They are simply not consistent which cost them a lot in the future I think. This comes down to the pub!ic. This is really a nice pattern though.:-) Thanks for the post! A.

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    1. I have to say, if public opinion is low for Kate right now, it rather reflects poorly on our (the public's) intelligence and ability to follow logic. Kate doesn't take on more public engagements because she is focused on her family right now. Her husband, William, and her child, George. She still has a royal workload that she maintains as well. William is part of that equation. She may feel very tired many days after caring for George and the early mornings and sometimes sleepless nights. Maybe William needs to have some time with Kate where her entire focus is on him. Maybe she wants time with him without any distractions. She is a wife and mother. Everyone needs the occasional special attention for a healthy family unit to exist. None of this is mutually exclusive behavior. Most of the time she needs and wants to be with George, this is their first time alone since he was born. Hardly difficult to find empathy, in my mind.

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    2. It would be interesting if you plotted her three engagments this year. So far they just barely outnumber the vacations.

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    3. I disagree with you here Jane, just bc people think different than you it has nth to do with their intelligence. I call it common sense, but I must say Kate has never been ambitious and if she is fine with this, at least we can talk about her style.A.

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  3. Jane thank you for this great insight to the royal couples vacations. They are no different except the cost to any other family going on vacation. And for the person Anonymous 12:36 it is not unheard of that parents leave their children for a week away with your husband. And it does not make them a bad parent. They will always be hands on parents even with a nanny.

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    1. Dear Pauline, please calm down and do not read things into my sentences, I know that is your second fave activity though! Thanks! A.

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  4. Hi Jane I think you have provided a very interesting perspective here and when you talked of we all do what is within our means it took my mind back to the engagement interview.
    When asked about the negative comments in the media surrounding her work (or supposed lack of) , kate simply said I know I have worked very hard and my family and friends and the people that matter most know this also and that is what is important.
    This attitude applies to this situation also, there will always be people who will blow things out of proportion and lose all common sense. I just wonder why those people actually follow her, I have read some quite nasty comments on newspaper websites and it makes me think if you have nothing nice to say don't say anything at all and don't follow kate or comment on stories about her.

    Another point to make is that I'm sure if we had the same funds as kate then we would take these breaks as well, alot of the negative comments are actually jealousy in disguise.
    Thanks for the post jane highly informative as usual!

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    1. Simmy, you are right! Kate herself addressed this, and proved from the start that her attitude is very removed from the a sometimes feckless public, which I think is super healthy. She can never make everyone happy. She needs to make herself happy and keep her family happy while doing what she knows is right.

      Thanks for reading. I always appreciate your input. :)

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    2. I have read all the comments and this is most definitely a sore subject! I think it will be interesting to see how things go after the tour. But I suspect some people will never be satisfied!

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  5. Thanks Jane, 3 weeks holiday a year sounds exceedingly reasonable to me!! And I so agree that we all live vicariously through Kate's wardrobe/life, thanks for trying to put some balance into the discussion.

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  6. I agree with you and with commentor "simmy" above.

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  7. Jane, it is all about perception, and the perception, right now, is that Kate is work-shy. It has dogged her for a long time now. As a working royal, who receives a great many perks courtesy of the British taxpayer, she signed up for a life of public service, of doing good works, of using her high profile to draw attention to good causes. She has done a small fraction of the work, for example, that Diana had done by this point in her marriage. No one is suggesting Kate needs to work 10 hour days, but I guarantee you if she had done even one or two engagements per week we would not be seeing this backlash. She does not get a "pass" because she has a baby as she would if she were any other stay at home mom; her obligations are different because of the role of the royal family (yes, that pesky bit about taxpayers again. I know how the Royal family is funded, but I also know that the British taxpayer foots the bill for a great many things, including the cost of security--and make no mistake about it, this Maldives trip is costing the British taxpayer millions). No one begrudges Kate and William a holiday. What they begrudge is a holiday in the face of a very, very, very light work load.

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    1. Agreed, very well put. The Duchess married the future King of England and with that comes responsibilities. It is irrelevant that the Middleton's take holidays together at a certain time. There should be a certain work ethic here first then comes holiday. Yes the Duchess has a baby but so do lots of other woman. Your example of Diana is exact. Princess Mary of Denmark is another case in point. The mother of 4 children, and yes she goes on holiday with her family, but only after a very impressive workload. Take a look at the Danish royal website to see the extent of the royal duties she undertakes. Yes there is a royal tour coming up, but regardless of that take a look at the Queen and what she is still doing, there is no comparison. The Duke and Duchess really need to get out there and start making a difference, they have the capabilities and resources. 3 royal engagements in 3 months, 2 holidays in 2 months a very disappointing effort.

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    2. I agree with everything you said except the bit about perception. It would be about perception if Kate had really undertaken a bunch of engagements she was not being credited for and because she also took holidays and went shopping and did things normal people like to do, she was being branded as a royal layabout. But she hasn't done a bunch of engagements--that is fact, not perception.

      People were generally understanding and supportive of Kate not taking on the role of a full time royal right after her marriage--after all, her husband wasn't and no one wanted another Diana situation. But she has had time to ease into her role, time at home with the baby and now that William isn't doing his bit as a search and rescue pilot, it is time for both of them to step up to the plate. This vacation would have been much more palatable if they had taken it AFTER being on tour for 3 weeks. Like the rest of us they have to put work time in before earning vacation time--earning, not taking.

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    3. Hi Amy - I agree with your analysis / opinion.

      I don't think anyone begrudges Catherine some time off with the family. Of course family is important to her. But we haven't seen her do much else in return this year which isn't so great for the public's perception. Being a royal you do have to be out there and visible. I hope we get to see Catherine step it up with engagements after the tour/maternity leave.

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  8. Hi Jane,
    These are the vacations that we know about it. They aren't required to post or check in with everyone and who knows when they hire jets to get out and about. William was in Spain and we only found out about it because a pap spotted him. Just pointing out that we only know what we know when the press finds out.

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  9. Hi Jane,
    The way I see it, William and Kate want to protect their marriage. Couples can easily drift apart and love can grow cold. To be good parents, a couple has to invest in their relationship. The problem is that William and Kate are not a "regular wealthy couple". They are part of the royal family and must be held accountable to public scrutiny. Right now it appears that they are enjoying their privilege and position without regard.


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  10. I thnk everyone is missing the point. It is not about the vacation, it is about leaving a very young baby in the hands of essentially a stranger, the nanny. Many moms could not fathom doing such a thing. Do moms do this all the time? Yes, but many who do so for work reasons feel terrible about it, so to imagine that it was voluntary, can be hard for some moms to do. Will the baby be fine, yes, but leaving will strike some that the bond is not terribly strong, and that will seem sad. There are all sorts of reasons to explain why it is a good thing: rest, marriage, preparation for a big trip, etc. but ultimately the bond will seem less strong to those mothers who could not fathom such a long separation at such a young age. If you are not a mom, it may be hard to relate.

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  11. the backlash will continue especially for kate if she doesnt do someting meaning WORK, she was lazy even before george was around and now using george as an excuse, its not working!!!

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  12. Hi Jane
    I enjoy your blog, but I can't agree with you on this topic.
    They have taken their whole annual vacation of three weeks before March has ended. Fair enough, they want a family holiday, a romantic holiday etc. But how does William's hunting trip fall into that? They are incredibly privileged, and that's great. The PR issue is not related to our intelligence. It's related to Kate and William's behaviour. What they are doing looks bad to a lot of people, including fans of W and K. They have that great privilege, but are not putting in much publicly, and need to make a bit more effort on that front. Especially William who has taken two breaks during his short course.
    Kate has only done 3 engagements this year. She is caring for George obviously, but with the new nanny, I and many other people would like to see her growing in her role, and perhaps enjoying her holidays without the incredible frequency that we have seen this year. She has great privilege, but she appears to nearly all to be abusing it.
    Kind regards, RX

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    1. I am sorry if you took my comment to mean that anyone who disagrees with me is not intelligent. I have appreciated this discussion and the varying opinions. That comment was directed at a more particular point being made, that somehow Kate taking a vacation without George made her a hypocrite for claiming she wanted to cut back on engagements to spend time with him. I don't think those two choices are mutually exclusive. I think although we may all disagree about Kate's workload or her right to cut back on engagements, from the perspective of a parent, I don't think many of us find her hypocritical in taking a holiday without her son when he is 7 months old. As I say, the argument that she is a bad parent or that she does't love George is separate from the larger question, and I was weighing in on that particular point. Again, I am sorry if it came across as a blanket statement. :)

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    2. Actually they have not taken the whole of their annual vacation at the beginning of the year, but at the end. In the UK the holiday year most frequently goes from April 1 to March 31st.
      In actual fact, in the 3 years since their marriage, they have taken little more holiday than many people take in one year..

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  13. Hi Jane,
    I appreciate your blog and really enjoy reading your posts. I think the question you have raised is important. Why is this holiday such a big deal to the public? Why are so many eyebrows raised?

    I do not keep track of the royals the way you or Charlotte at HRH Duchess Kate or Richard Palmer do but I enjoy hearing about her charity work as well as the sightings of her around town. From my perspective these are the problems that are creating tension for the "public":

    1) The lack of public engagements in the first quarter of 2014. Both William and Catherine have taken on a handful of engagements this year in contrast to the other working royals. While it is noted that Catherine is on maternity leave, her leave has not been consistent or defined. William has been studying to take over the the land management of Prince Charles' Duchy estate. I think many accepted this as an important, private role for preparation. On the other hand, he missed course work for the holiday in Spain and again for this current holiday. It gives the perception that the work being done is not important. If William worked diligently and ahead in his studies and completed them early, that information seems like it would be noteworthy.

    If the schedule of William and Catherine picks up for the remainder of the year, I suspect public opinion might shift and this holiday will be viewed in that context. If, on the other hand, they are largely MIA after the royal tour, they might have a larger problem on their hands. Only time will tell.

    Again, many thanks for your thoughtful blog!

    Amy

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  14. Well said, Bravo!

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  15. Interesting perspective, never thought of it in that way. Much ado about nothing, eh?

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    1. Thanks, Hazel. Well, I think it is, obviously. Frankly, in the end, it seems we are all disagreeing on Kate's right to choose to shift most of her time to family. Can she choose to be a 75% full-time mom as a royal. I think every woman has the right to make that choice herself. You can choose to be working mom, choose to be a part-time working mom, you can choose to be a stay at home mom. No woman should judge another for her choice--on either side. I have appreciated the discussion, this topic is always hot :), but I think it is something that as a "Kate community" we won't ever really agree on. Anywoo...

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  16. Hello, I've often wondered why Kate does more public work and compared with the Princess Mary, and I realize that William is NOT the Crown Prince, this is Carlos, so that the burden of hard work lies in and not Kate and William.

    It's good that as a young married couple take their time and space they need are met, and if it is true that George left, is completely normal since this largest be left to the care of people prepared.

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  17. I agree with you Jane. Both about this post and yesterdays. I'd love to see Kate more but at the same time I think she works more then we think. And she does have to be a mother and a wife to so let her do whatever she wants. she is still a force. Hope she had time with Wills..and I kinda hope we get a pic or two! :P

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  18. You make one wrong calculation in your patterns. William took a long hunting weekend in Spain while kate was in Mustique. A trip for which also caused bad press as he was one- supposed to be in a 10 week course program still, and to which he still is even though on holiday now, and two was speaking the following week about illegal hunting and gaming with his father. So neither were hard at work

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    1. I think you might be a little confused, but not alone in your confusion. You are the second individual to bring William up. This blog is not about William or his work ethic. That's a different argument, frankly, if William is doing an engagement without Kate, I rarely even follow it. Maybe I'll glance at the pictures, but often I am busy and keep moving. I am not saying that I have a radically different opinion on his vacationing than I do of Kate's, but it isn't the focus of this blog. At all. But, since you brought it up:

      1. Clearly, this ten week program has built in breaks, and/or lull periods when he is able to travel, since this is the second vacation he has taken. Recall, the program was designed FOR him, so presumably he was able to arrange it to fit his schedule, both public and private. William's trip to Spain was not in tandem with Kate's trip to Mustique. Maybe he had to stay because of school, maybe he knew he really wanted to go hunting with his buddies and he could only take so much time off and he knew he was going to get beach time with Kate later. I don't know. I don't really care. Whatever his motives, he took a vacation matching Kate's, thus far, the pattern is holding pretty well. Again, though, you won't see any post on this blog about William's trip to Spain. not because I don't know about it, and not because I am deviously trying to hide it, but because it isn't the concern of this space.

      2. I am not taking a position on hunting, BUT, there is a major difference between legal hunting and poaching. Legal, illegal. William is fighting poaching, illegal hunting, and I applaud him for that. Again, not taking a stance on legal hunting, but certainly pointing it out it is in fact legal, and you MUST acknowledge that difference.

      To conclude. William is go interest to me because he is so closely connected to Kate. His work load is of far less interest to me. This blog would not exists, but for Kate. The analysis was of the Cambridges vacationing patterns as a couple, since they now almost always go on the same vacations. That she made time for her family vacation and he wanted to go hunting isn't a huge issue. The pattern holds, they both have taken the same number of major vacations.

      We aren't going to agree. I don't have any will toward them, nor do I spend much time comparing what I have, or my flexibility, or my means to travel the world, in comparison to Kate's. I don't sit around and wonder how my lifestyle compares to Kim Kardashian, either. I follow Kate because I enjoy it. I have looked at the numbers, she isn't bleeding the nation dry, she is in fact an asset even if she is walking to the beauty parlor. She has sweet perks, yes. I don't have the same perks. When I see she is on holiday, I get excited. "What fun! Hope she has a good time! Maybe we will get pictures." I don't think, "that lazy woman doest work enough to suit me! I have to go to the office while she gets her tan on...again. I don't have that lifestyle, that's not fair!" I am just not going to get fired up about the fact that she can afford to vacation in exotic locales more than I. What's the point?

      I just don't get the mindset. Sorry. I know a lot of you have tried to explain it, but I can't see it. I don't see them as a drain on the nation, I see them as a huge asset to GB, and enjoy following Kate. She will always have more clothes than I and she will always have more vacations and there is no point in trying to "even it all out." I wouldn't want to even if I could.

      Anyway, I appreciate you reading, I appreciate you weighing in. I hope we can agree to disagree.

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  20. First, I want to say that I enjoy your blog very much. It's entertaining without being salacious which is always a refreshing change in an age of over-sharing gossip sites and horrid reality television. Second, I wanted to weigh in on the comparison of the work ethic between Diana and Kate because it does seem to come up often. I was a very romantic minded 12-year-old American girl when I woke up early one summer morning to watch a young woman marry a future king of England. I became an instant devotee of Diana and followed news of her relentlessly through her life and tragic death. (And feeling terribly guilty that I was one of those people who always bought magazines with Diana on the cover, causing the paps to chase her so relentlessly but that's another post topic.) I keep up with William and Harry and now George because they are living legacies to Diana, the last links we as fans have to someone we admired so much. There was that sense when Diana died that people took vicarious ownership of the raising of William and Harry much like JFK Jr. after his father's tragic assassination in America. However, I'm on the fence about Kate. She's obviously very pretty, seems to be a genuinely nice person, and also seems very good for William and a devoted mom to George. I've never thought she had much of a work ethic and was more than irritated that she was seemingly content to sit and wait on William for so many years when she could have done more to set examples for other young women. I don't think it's enough for her to say she feels like she works hard if her efforts aren't visible to the public. I realize all that I know is whatever is on the surface, and William wouldn't have married her if he didn't truly care for her. Not after what his mother and father went through. Kate just seems very vanilla, ornamental without having much else to offer. I don't dislike her, I just haven't seen anything from her that really impresses either. I enjoy this blog because it's so positive about her and I'm really trying to find a connection that I can appreciate. She is the mother to Diana's grandson, after all! ;) But whatever my opinion is of her personally, it's not a fair comparison to put her work ethic up against that of Diana. William is in line for the throne, but Charles was the heir to the throne when Diana married him and that makes a big difference. The expectations for Diana were much different as Princess of Wales than Kate has as Duchess of Cambridge. Being further down the hierarchy gives Will and Kate more breathing room than Diana had. Unfortunately, Diana's death paved the way for Will and Kate to have the time to develop their relationship for all of those years and for them to move slowly into full-time royal duty – options Diana didn't have. She hit the ground running with royal engagements when she married Charles, dealt with a media frenzy at the ages of 19 and 20, became pregnant very quickly after the wedding, and didn't have the luxury to skip royal duty to care for her sons as much as she would have liked, although she did break down many traditions when it came to raising her boys that Will and Kate are also able to take advantage of now. I'm sure Diana would have loved to ease into royal life the way Kate has. On the other hand, if I was paying the taxes to support Kate and not watching from across the pond, then I would (and do) want her to step up a little. Kate is almost as old as Diana was when she died. Two very different women with very different lives but a common thread of royal duty, with “duty” being the key word. Kate has so many advantages Diana didn't have and it frustrates me than she seems content to do so little when she could make a real difference. Jane, keep up the good work!

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  21. Hello the British taxpayers do not pay for private trips to exotic places . Hello Hello.

    The Maldives trip was given to them by the wealthy resort owners. It promotes their resort. It business.....omg!!! People are so damn ignorant , suspect outta jealousy. They're upset, confused and easily maniputed by gossip and misinformation.

    I love our kate. She's gprgeous beautiful elegant and sexy. (Yes I said it). A beautiful English rose from the home counties. I love how she's close to both sides of her familes. I like seeing her looking flawless and in the latest fashions. What a fantastic dream lifestyle for a girl. How many girls get the chance to dress up etc.

    There's whole websites dedicated to abusing her, mainly American sadly. It's really hysterical as if they want her dead or something. And nothing she does they like anyway. So to me it doesn't matter what she does. She will be critised.

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