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Why Is Kate Such a Star? Diana's Legacy Is A Factor

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

During that happiest of royal watching times--April 2014--the question was raised, "What made Kate so popular?"  I said I would give my two cents, but the summer  ran away with me, so here we are just getting to it now. So...why is she such a popular royal, where does the magic spring from? The next question is obviously, does Kate bring anything unique to this situation, or would any woman have reached this stardom once she was made William's princess? After all, as Shakespeare's Juliet mused... that which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet. 



The answer has several layers. The Kate-mania came about through a complicated formula, but let's start with one significant factor: Diana. Kate has undeniably inherited some of her super-star power from her late mother-in-law.

Prince Charles was the heir to the most prominent monarchy in modern times and certainly one of the most prestigious monarchies in history. The last man to stand in his place was his disgraced great-uncle-Edward VIII (the king who abdicated the throne to marry his American divorcée, passing the crown to Elizabeth II's father George VI). When Charles finally settled on a bride and asked Lady Diana Spencer to marry him, excitement for a royal wedding and modern royal romance went through the roof.


Diana's popularity in itself was a bit of a multi-faceted concoction. The really tectonic shifts in media and communication that came about in the late 20th century enabled the world historically unprecedented access to information. This allowed people to feel a much deeper connection with a public figure than was ever possible before. The tense geopolitical situations in the world at the time probably also primed the public for a story that lifted hearts and moods. A prince and princess, a real-life fairytale, fashion, charities, the pomp and the pageantry... Whatever the factors and however they got whisked together, the world fell really, really hard for Diana.

Diana was the perfect subject for this new world of celebrity access, because we truly watched her transform. When Diana came to the public eye she was for all intents and purposes still a child. She was still 19 when the 33 year-old Charles proposed, she married him in July of the same year, having turned 20 the same month,  and she delivered William on the 21st of June...several weeks before her 21st birthday.



Unhappily, while time changed her into a sophisticated and savvy princess, the circumstances that brought it about were anything but those of a fairytale. The public had bonded with her as a young woman marrying a prince and were then heartbroken with her and for her as her isolation became more apparent. The drama fed the media interest and fueled her celebrity.



Impressively, she poured her pain into charity work for others, looking outward rather than only focusing on herself.  Again, the world loved her all the more for it.

Her very premature, dramatic, and tragic death in Paris solidified her star-status. It froze her in a time and a place and in an image. The emotional charge seems almost as strong 17 years after her death as it did when she was alive; it's remarkable. Prime Minister Blair's comments upon her death could have been taken as political rhetoric, but they have proved to be entirely prophetic:
She was a wonderful and warm human being. Though her own life was often sadly touched by tragedy, she touched the lives of so many others in Britain – throughout the world – with joy and with comfort. How many times shall we remember her, in how many different ways, with the sick, the dying, with children, with the needy, when, with just a look or a gesture that spoke so much more than words, she would reveal to all of us the depth of her compassion and her humanity. How difficult things were for her from time to time, surely we can only guess at – but the people everywhere, not just here in Britain but everywhere, they kept faith with Princess Diana, they liked her, they loved her, they regarded her as one of the people. She was the people’s princess and that’s how she will stay, how she will remain in our hearts and in our memories forever.
Diana passed her extraordinary popularity onto her boys. As children walking behind their mother's coffin, they were figures of heartrending pity. The fascination that Diana so deeply inspired has imbued them with a star quality not possessed by any other members of the Royal Family.



Although, William said in the engagement interview that no one was trying to fill Diana's shoes, which is true, it is wrong to try to entirely disassociate Kate from Diana's legacy. Just like the boys inherited the scrutiny, the press interest, and the public adulation, whatever woman ultimately became William's bride was going to be the subject of significant interest...because people are still in love with Diana and her story.  
The next question is obviously, does Kate bring anything unique to this situation, or would any woman have reached this stardom? The very clear answer to me is that Kate does indeed bring a special touch that has helped to make her the sell-out princess that she is and will continue to become.


We have talked about who Kate really is in this post Should the Real Kate Middleton Show Herself and I can only reiterate that Kate has got it right where Diana got it wrong. If you go back to when the public first had the opportunity to follow Kate, the story is not entirely unlike Diana's. The public got to watch Kate find her way through post-college into adulthood,  and for some of us, we were growing up with her.
In those early years, we learned quite a bit about the woman she is. We saw she was polished, she was cheerful and put on a pleasant face for the cameras...Kate understands good PR and knows how to be polite. She seemed impermeable to press slurs, remaining friendly and pleasant.  Yet, consider that in the almost ten years she dated William she never once spoke. (We heard her voice when she kindly answered a question for a camera about a trade conference she was attending several years before her marriage. Other than that, Kate said hello for the first time when she sat with William for their engagement interview.)  She was splashed all over front-pages, we knew all manner of details about her relationship with William, her habits and holidays, her work, and her family, and yet she remained very much a private woman.



She is a private woman who can be both publicly available and personally reserved. Her current modus operandi, if you wish to term it such, is exactly the protocol she lived by when she was just the commoner dating the prince. The only difference is that now we get to see a little more of her, both literally and figuratively. The Kate who kept a pleasant demeanor for the cameras can now smile, wave, and even chat with her fans--enabling us greater access, but not necessarily giving us anymore than we already knew.

Kate knows how to give enough, but not all. Despite the celebrity, she maintains a healthy and robust personal life. Kate has Diana's warmth and she has her compassion and she is able to genuinely convey that she truly cares, but she will never be Diana. She will never bare her soul to the media in interviews or the public forum. She will never fully open her heart and display the vulnerability and the hurt that Diana would so easily convey.

Ultimately, although we loved Diana she failed at being a public princess. We knew her too well, she gave too much of herself to too many people, and she damaged the institution that initially had shone the spotlight on her. While she did her best with the cards she was dealt, no one can look at Diana's life and say, what a happy 36 years. Were there times of joy? Were there blessings for which to be grateful? To be sure, but her marriage, which comprised almost half her life, was desperately unhappy, she was often separated from her children, she was scrutinized in the most intimate of personal choices...it was not an enviable existence. In a strange dichotomy, the most loved public figure in recent history was often isolated and lonely. Diana's life was tragic.

By contrast, Kate's public life is controlled. The long years taught us that Kate is strong. She didn't know how her whole royal romance was going to end, and neither did we. She had to navigate the usual stressful ups and downs of her private life very much in the public eye and it taught her how to protect the private while still being a people's princess. The relationships she has with her husband, her children, her close family and friends are delicately separated from her public life. All family information and media generously takes into account the public's excitement, love and enthusiasm, but always is tempered by a respect for the boundary beyond which Her Grace is just Kate.  

William and Kate wanted to learn from the lessons of the past and they have done that brilliantly. All the years that Kate dated William she was often mocked in the press: Waity Katie, the girl who wouldn't get a job. She was called lazy and a social climber. In response, she smiled, she went about her life, she dated her prince, and she focused on her family. Her calm, her strength, and her resolve were all the virtues that she also needs now to weather the withering media attention she will receive for the remainder of her life.

Kate will always keep the delicate balance of public persona and personal life in precise order, which means we will never see into her soul as deeply as we did Diana's, we won't get as many photo ops, we won't see her as often, but it also means that when we do we will see a woman who loves because she is loved, we will see a human heart that radiates confidence and calm, because she is stable and secure.  

This also contributes to her star power. We were fascinated by Diana and we are fascinated by Kate, but she presents a picture to which people aspire. The public may have loved Diana and been spellbound by her story, but no one looked at Diana and wanted to live her life.

Kate is a beautiful, emotionally healthy woman in a world of dysfunctional celebrities, and that stability that she brings, that simple and normal background--from her own happy family, to the new little royal family she is building with William--is her own "particular brand of magic" drawing the masses. She is a personality that inspires emulation.



I cheated when I quoted from Shakespeare at the beginning of this post, because I took it out of context. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet... But Juliet's musings about the accidental (non-essential) nature of Romeo's name are explaining that what she loved in Romeo lay in something more fundamental to him as a person than a name.  
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes 
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name;
And for that name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.

Just so, William could have fallen in love with and married Kate had she been Kate Bucklebury or Melissa Jones, but not just any girl could have stepped into Kate's position and made of it what Kate has. As is the case with each human soul, Kate is unique and she has brought a special touch to William, to the monarchy, and to the world.


I welcome your theories. You know, people have varying reasons for why they follow Kate, and some stories are quite personal. It's interesting that her story has found an echo in so many other lives around the world.


N.B. on comments: This is a post primarily discussing why Kate is the global figure she has become, and the differences between her personality and Diana's. It is not a post on her work load. We have discussed her work load many times in the past and this post is not the forum for that discussion now. Comments that address that topic will not be posted


70 comments:

  1. Jane what a wonderfully eloquent post. I find your personal thoughts fair and well reasoned. They very much echo my own. Thank you for sharing them with us.

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    1. Amen! Such a lovely post!

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    2. Thank you ladies, I very much appreciate your kind feedback!

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  2. Jane I love your insight into Kates life and how she became the person we all love and respect. William has foundf the woman of his dreams and I keep thinking on what his mother told him. I can not remember it word for word but it is something like this: If you find the woman you love and she loves you back, you need to take care of that love and let it grow.
    And I also like and I can see this working in their marriage, William said in their first interview that he has learned from the past mistakes. He is in love with his wife, he is proud of her and is not jealous of her. Charles was very jealous with all the attention Diana got.
    This Malta trip that William was just on shows us just how much he loves and charishs Kate. She is the people princess now.
    I wish them all the best as they continue to grow in their love and family. Hope she is feeling better soon.

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    1. Hi Pauline! They are such a darling couple, aren't they? So fun to follow. xoxo, Jane

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    2. IMO She is not people princess.
      I would call her children pricness rather.

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  3. Beautifully said and deeply, deeply insightful.

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    1. Thank you! Very much appreciate you reading and taking the time to comment. :)

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  4. I have to admit, I follow Kate not just because she is beautiful, but because I had to wait longer than I wanted to be proposed to (and that was MUCH shorter of a wait than she faced, albeit she got a bigger payoff ha!) and I took a lot of strength from her own resolve. I think I tend to be too open and show my heart too much, so I think she is a good role model for her ability to be warm yet private. I think that's a sign of sophistication, confidence, and strength. It's much harder than it looks.

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    1. I agree entirely. That ability to give of yourself and still protect yourself is a hard balance. She is a champ.
      Thanks for your personal comment, too. I am glad you got your happy ending. :)

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  5. What a wonderful post, Jane. You said it all and you said it just right. For me, I knew Kate was the perfect princess on her wedding day. With all of that pomp and ceremony, she looked calm, composed, and owned her right to stand beside her prince. William is a very lucky man and I credit Diana with the certainty that he knows it well. I only hope that Harry is as lucky someday soon. Thank you Jane. I very much hope that someone on Kate's staff sees this and shows it to her.

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    1. Thanks, jane! You are very flattering. :)
      My fingers are crossed for Harry. I think he would like to have a Kate of his own soon. Somewhere, Diana is pulling for her little "spare."

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  6. Another fantastic post! I might not live long enough to see Kate stepping to the throne, but I do cross my fingers that like HM she will have some first really private years enjoying her family and even later on keep privacy and position separate. What do we know of the Queen? Even less than about the Cambridge's but she is fascinates people by the stability she gives and I feel Kate and William are on a perfect way ....
    And yes, doesn't everyone dreams once in while. Isn't speculating about other people's life a pleasure. It leaves much to imagination which encourage us to follow and follow ...

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    1. I enjoy speculating... People watching is a luxury in which I love to indulge. Everyone has a story, eh? And everyone matters...
      Thanks for reading and for your supportive comment. :)

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  7. Nice post. However she isn't so much admired like you described. Many people doesn't care about her, like many of my friends. She has many fans, but the fever mainly goes from the media. They know it's a kind of soap opera, and people like it. The stories about them are often controversial. There's much happy fuss about all their affairs. I've found that people are interested in her because:
    1. want to know from where her success come from. She did very little but she's got so much,
    2. like fashion. Kate choices are safe and very practical. Women are inspired to dress to work,
    3. wait for her to fail (sorry but many are extremely jealous about her happiness and position),
    4. treat their life like some kind of "Big Brother" and "Downton Abbey".
    I've found another interesting thing: more people are rather dislike them now because they are too self absorbed and pampered.
    When they were getting married many peoples had hope they would change the image of the royal family.
    Now I can read many comments with disappointment. They are wonderful family, but people expected something more than nice smiles and shaking hands. Kate has time for holidays, arranging home, shopping etc. but she has so little time for her charities. They live only for themselves and for this they don't need royals titles.

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    1. While I can see where some of your comments are coming from, I think there are many assumptions there that need challenging.
      1. What success? Why are you defining her as succeeding? Because she married a Prince? How do you know how little she did? No-one was privy to her life so we can't comment on what she did or didn't do before her engagement.
      2. Why should she be some kind of fashionista? Diana fell into that trap and found her causes overshadowed by her sartorial choices, not a good thing as she herself often said. Kate gets it right, she looks well dressed and comfortable.
      3. Waiting for her to fail, this says much more about those people than about Kate! What sad lives they must have if they get a thrill from seeing someone who is trying to do good fail.
      4. It isn't big brother or Downton, it is their life, you may or may not agree with what they do (or in your opinion don't do) but to class it with these two very contrived programmes is unfair.
      Again people are making judgements about them being self absorbed and pampered. There is no doubt both of them do a huge amount for their causes behind the scenes, they don't just turn up on the day, there is research, planning etc. William lost his mother at a young age and that will always colour his life. Kate has been bullied not only at school but now in the media and by the kind of comments you make here. Many people criticising them will themselves make time for holidays, arranging a home and shopping so why the criticism, just because they are who they are do you expect them to go around wearing hair shirts and apologising for every thing they do? William would love nothing more than to give up his royal role, he has said it before and I believe him, so he can't have the life he wants at all, and now neither can Kate. They don't only live for themselves, that is a very sweeping statement and very unfair. I am sick of this 'tall poppy' syndrome we have in the UK, and I despise those who can't aspire themselves, knocking those who do. William and Kate (and Harry) have raised millions for charity, highlighted causes and will continue to do so until they die. They represent the UK and bring in millions in business. Is that doing nothing?

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    2. You've asked me many questions. I've written more for Anonymous September 23, 2014 at 4:03 PM. I hope it will lit a bit what I wrote before. I didn't intend to offend anybody. Kate gets many comments below an article. From them we may find out why people read an article and what they think. They are anonymous so their comments are sincere. There are many well wishers but, especially lately - there are much more haters. I've found out that many from UK struggle with making ends meet, and for many life that C&W live are unbelievable. For one side I read a praising article , for the other one - many negatives comments. Many says they don't want to carry the royal duties but they still want to make profits from being royal. And my personal opinion: It's untrue William had no choice. He might have abdicate if he felt it was not for him. It's better than saying people: "Sorry I don't want to but I have to". It's so sad. And the last thing which troubles me - if Kate do much work behind the scenes, why there are no such news. There were articles about secret dates with William, going to cinema, shopping, Peter Rabbit decorations in George's room, even details about their kitchen, cooking course, but I never read article about her secret visit to a charity. It's pretty confusing. I don't think it wouldn't come to daylight if she did it. (I tell it as a PR worker). So maybe the angry of commenters is right?

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    3. I agree with "AnonymousSeptember 23, 2014 at 1:06 PM".

      Jane you like and admire Kate so it's no wonder your post it biased which is ok, Kate does have many positive and lovely things about her. But I wouldn't go as far as say that she has that magnetic persona (again, like Diana did) that draw people to her. She is the wife of a Prince, an heir to the British throne. That's what makes her famous, not her personality. Think about it: you said yourself we don't know much about her. If people did know more and loved her for it I would understand that, it would have made sense. But people would have been interested in any woman who married William.

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    1. Thanks, Zoe!! Appreciate dropping in and reading!

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  9. So beautifully said! I follow Kate because in an age of media, celebrity fame hungry people, young women do not have many positive role models. Kate is the very symbol of grace, class, elegance and genuine warmth that is missing in this age. Oh and I love her style! Thank you for the post Jane, I must say in a way I like when there is a lull in engagements because we can discuss the wider picture!

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    1. Thank you, Simmy! She is a role model for so many women, i think you are right. And as you say, one that is needed pretty badly these days. :) Glad you enjoy the the longer posts... ;)
      xoxo, Jane

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  10. Great post. I love it when you give us the opportunity to think about a subject differently to what it is normally put to us. Why do I follow Kate? A number of reasons. Ive worked in the the fashion industry for a number of years and it was the only thing I ever wanted to do. I grew up with Diana being the primary 'fashion fairytale icon' of that time and I think it partially transferred to Kate, more by her position, than her satorial choices.
    Also, the following Royals was a huge thing for my Aunt, who in her day wished she was Princess Margaret. My interest in the Royals, particularly Diana and Kate, has been passed down to me as a child thorugh her and is now a bit of a family legacy. I think any woman who marries either of Diana's boys is going to get the attention of what they wear, how they wear it, who are they really and what makes them tick.
    In addition, its a bit of escapism that I can follow what she does. Kate lives a very different life to the one the majority of us will ever have the chance of experiencing, and to mine of a struggling uni student stuck in a rut of study, study, study. So Im living a bit vicariously. In some small way, because she seems to have it all, seeing her not being so perfect all the time (even though this is at her expense) makes her more interesting - and that may be a just the green-eyed monster comming out there ;).

    KiwiNic

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    1. Yes, I think royal watching definitely has a bit of escapism. Don't we watch tv and movies for the same reasons? A break from reality, another person's world or a whole different reality. It's therapeutic and these days, some bright and tension free pastimes are quite the relief. :)
      Hope school is going well!!
      xoxo, Jane

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  11. Excellent post, Jane. Your thoughts mirror my own.

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  12. @Anon 1:06. I would like to address some of your points re Kate. 1. how do you know she did so little to get so much? As Jane pointed out in her so eloquent article, we know little of her personal life and so your point is moot. 2. Kate's style is classic, not safe, and if she is practical, she is working when we see her dressed up. 3. If you are waiting for her to fail, then you must live a sad life. 4. Big Brother and Downton Abbey? They are not characters on a tv show or competing in a reality show. This is their real life, as much as they want to reveal to the public.

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    1. I've put together what I found from many comments in the media. I often read comments below an article, f. e. DM, DE, my native websites. I read them all. I am interested in Kate for psychological reason - I wonder how she deals with all the things, how she keeps up with the new life and what influence she has for other people. I like to read comments - good and bad. I know some of them are silly, but just they are opinions. I respect them all. Best greetings!

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    2. And there, one more reason why I'm so interested in Kate's life. I can't still belive, after all these years, someone can be happy in the familly. The British RF seems to be for me one of the most snobbish royal families in Europe. They make Diana's life so miserable, so I don't think they can ever change. I can't stand Camilla and Charles. They are so hipocritical. I do hope C&W life and relations with the rest of royal family It's not only a good work of PR. (I work in PR too, so it wonders me, because PR often make up things very well). I am amazed how the media create people opinions with articles. One day authors adore someone but the next day - they may destroy him. Many of us knows Kate from those articles, photos and comments. So we know very little about C&W. What kind of person she is and how really she deals with all the "royal stuff" and what she realy thinks about it.

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  13. I think Kate being more reserved than Diana definitely draws people in - the bit of mystery.

    I'm not sure if this has ever been answered (and sorry if I'm going too far off topic!), but do you think Kate was angling for William since the beginning? I know there have been rumors of it, because she switched universities and of where her gap year was.

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    1. Yep, I have some thoughts on this, for sure. I will get back to you on this!

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    2. Please do, Jane! I am also interested in hearing your thoughts on this topic.

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    3. We would like to have Jane's thoughts on this. My two cents? Naw. I think there would've been a "tell" in her behavior and character in other ways since then. She's not perfect, but she's lovely. And don't forget, William is a very savvy judge of character. He would've known and would not have had it. They both owe a lot to Diana for different reasons and in different ways. Lovely post, Jane.

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    4. I read an article about Carole's children some time ago. Carole taught them the rule: "If you don't ask you don't get". So I presume Kate just follows her dreams. It's obvious she tried to get his attention from the beggining. I don't get it why people are so nasty about it, saing she was hanging on William for the years. If you love somebody you just try. There's nothing wrong about it. We can't forget Kate was bullied when she was younger, but, I think, she got much strength from it. So maybe it helps her to deal with critics now. (sorry but English is not my native language)

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    5. On the one hand, those are quite the coincidences. But why wait such a long time for an engagement if you're only about the fame and money? She could have moved on to someone richer in the meantime. And Kate certainly does not court public attention like someone angling for a prince solely based on his title would.

      Maybe Carole urged her on the basis of making connections for and helping the family business? Even if she didn't befriend William, she could befriend other influential people in his circle. Still, I don't quite buy this "Wisteria sisters"-related angle. (I think Pippa especially is criticized much too often for the family's rise, by jealous watchers.) If it was about making connections, though, I would put the responsibility more on Carole. I don't know, I just get the impression that she is more interested in social climbing than her children. Just my opinion, as parents usually want their children to be better off than they were growing up.

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    6. I have actually always thought she was angling toward William. Don't get me wrong, I think she really loves him, but I think she put up with a lot more than she would have with a normal man because he was a Prince.

      She switched universities when she found out where William was going. On top of that, she would drop everything, friends and plans, to be at Williams beck and call. Also, she put up with his flirting and supposed cheating. In my opinion, she only did this because he was a prince and she wanted to be a princess. People always say that they think Diana would have loved Kate. I am not so sure. Diana never liked social climbing. Kate has definitely displayed some of the social climbing (not that I think it is wrong to change your status). There are other reasons that are work related that I am not sure Diana would care for Kate (which I will not get in to), but the main one is the social climbing. So, I really do not think Diana would have cared for Kate. Someone else below said something similar. I agree. But to reiterate, I think it was Kate's plan all along at university to grab William.

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  14. Hi Jane,
    Again beautiful idea for this post today! I love these sociological questions!
    Probably the reason why I began to follow her closely is very different from other people..More than three years ago, I needed to practise my English a lot, reading as much as possible, so I started to buy English magazines and searching English/American newspaper's web site ..I didn't know many other people on these magazines, so I found more interesting to read about the Royal Family..I've always felt great fascination about these sort of things but I didn't know so much! It was the time of their wedding so the whole coverage was on them. I think the first time I saw Kate was at the engagement interview..I almost didn't understand a word, her accent is beautiful but very difficult for a foreign, but something about the couple's complicity struck me in a positive way and her manners were so normal. I wondered how a normal young girl, how she seemed to be, could feel about all this word attention, how could she manage all that..During our twenties and starting our career we all have our fragilities and without having the world that judges as we learn something new.. but she was not entitled to show her insecurity. At the beginning there was only curiosity ..I bought the first biography about her and I loved it so much. It could be strange but I found myself (some things about my character and values) in her! This was the first book in English I red entirely even if it was very stressful to search so many words on the dictionary..I've never been a girl who like to follow singers, actors, gossip so it was something new for me and I was glad it was something useful for my English practise as well! Much better than my English courses at university! hihi ......Now I need to practise as well but I know I like to read about her for different reasons: I feel a high esteem for her and William. I also need distraction from all my studies and I prefer to change thoughts reading about someone I admire. She is in a position so different from us but at the same time is so easy to feel her like one of us..I think it is her great value, she is a kind and lovely person and she would have been the same in any position. I don't think anyone in her position would have achieved the same success...probably the same popularity but not the same success and admiration.. Charisma is something you have to born with. Her heartfelt smile and winning expressiveness is something important for that role. She has to communicate through that more than words. The fact we can be present in her growing and in the growing of her family makes it more interesting.
    I admired Princess Diana but obviously it was a childhood admiration because I loved princesses in general and unfortunately I remember very well when she died..a really sad day even if I was only 9. I understood much better Diana through the many biographies I red during the last few years. Surely they are two interesting women but so different!
    During the last few years, I've passed my interest on these things to my mum as well so now she also want I tell her what happens! I will be in London again with her in the next few days and we are very happy to go to the Royal childhood exhibition at Buckingham Palace!
    Sorry again for not being concise and for the mistakes..I know I need to improve my writing skills now! hihi
    Cinzy

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    1. Cinzy:
      I loved this. LOVED it. Thanks for telling your story, it is certainly unique! I am so impressed you read a whole biography looking up words. I try and buy magazines in French sometimes, but I usually run out of steam after a while. I am super impressed, and glad that learning English was an avenue to Kate and this blog!
      I agree with you that charisma is something you are born with. She is a natural at taking people to her heart.
      Thanks for reading and thanks for taking the time (and courage) to write your thoughts. I am inspired to get back to my Babbel. :)
      xoxo, Jane
      P.S. We are the same age. I was 9 when Diana died, too.

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    2. Well done on your English Cinzy. You write very well. Your story was very interesting.

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  15. I am the same age as William, and I've been following him all my life, or at least in magazines before the internet became popular! I'll never forget where I was or what I was doing when I found out that his mother had dies in a car crash. I was born in the US but have many British relatives, and I've been raised to admire and show reverence for royalty. I always fancied what it would be like to meet William (just girlish fantasies of marrying a prince!) but I assumed he would marry another famous or titled woman instead of someone like me. But somehow Kate reminds me of myself (we both love art history, sports, family, fashion, parties, etc.) and now following her seems like a glimpse into a parallel universe where maybe if not for time and space :) She seems so real and down to earth (funny considering she rarely spoke publicly before the wedding) that her lack of celebrity has just fueled the media spotlight even more. I will enjoy following her and William for years to come I am sure, and I am thankful to researchers and bloggers like you Jane who make it so easy and full of insightful commentary. Thank you for your work!

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    1. I think that is part of the attraction,too, isn't it? He didn't marry a duchess, he married a girl from the home counties. It's refreshing--and yes, it has an element of the fairytale about it. More than even Diana's initial story.
      Thanks for reading the blog! It was great to hear from you. Looking forward to more royal watching together. :)

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  16. Hi, Jane,

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful post.

    I've asked myself several times why I'm interested in Kate. I'm a contemporary of Princess Diana (I was born about 2 weeks before her). When Diana married, my contemporaries and I were at university and thought she was quite mad and old-fashioned to take it all on. She could have lived her own life, had a career, etc., etc. The nature of feminism back then made me rather look down on the big white dress, the older groom, the virgin to the sacrifice of it all-time seemed to bear me out. She was so unhappy...

    I loved to see Diana's clothes. I don't feel ashamed to admit that the "dress up" aspect was the draw for me because my life path was SO different from hers for so long. It was hard to identify with her for much else. She was so beautiful and charismatic but she was also rather broken inside. Her life never left her any space to figure that out. It's a huge credit to her that she kept it together and used her personal power to help so many people.

    Eventually they have learned a lot from her but the Royal Family were unhelpful and obtuse in their treatment of Diana. I don't like Charles. He was a coward in his personal life. His treatment of Diana was awful. I think he's a weak man and probably has more in common with the Duke of Windsor than any of the BRF would care to acknowledge.

    So why watch Kate? I still love the clothes!

    But more important is the theme of redemption. This time I hope the story will be happy. I hope Kate's time waiting will be rewarded and her obvious love for her husband and family will be fulfilling for her. I hope her love will heal William so he knows in his heart that his marriage will never be his parents' marriage. I hope their children will know that whatever the world wants from them, they are already all their parents have ever wanted.

    I think Kate's great gifts are knowing herself, being confident in her choices and bringing a sense of being centered to her world. I think these things will anchor William and their family. I hope they will also anchor Britain when she is Queen. For several years now, Kate has reminded me of the Queen Mother in that I feel she could be a pivotal figure for her family for several generations as the Queen Mother was and is. I hope the dire circumstances don't arise for Britain and for the whole world which contributed to the Queen Mother becoming such an anchor for her people. But I think Kate could be capable of that level of behaviour given the chance. I think she realizes that she's in this for the long game so she is taking her time and setting her priorities. That is what I really admire-that and the clothes!!

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    1. Your reflection on the redemptive nature is so beautiful to me. I entirely agree. There is a sense that they complete the story and that the ending is happy. That is very moving. Thank you.
      I also think you absolutely correct about Kate's ability to rise to an ugly challenge. I pray often that our world doesn't come to that again, but I have so much faith in the people of Europe to show far greater strength than some give them credit. Kate not the least, by any means.
      Again, beautiful, beautiful. Thank you.

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    2. Yes, I agree with this fully: part of what it makes it so special is the happy ending for William who went through this immense tragedy and is now blessed with such a stable and loving relationship and a beautiful family. On the Malta pic's he beams like he is the luckiest man in the world. So touching!

      I also like to see it like this: Diana was special, Diana's boys are special so the choosen one of the eldest of the boys must be special to. It's like a royal stamp of approval: all of the future queens and kings of England will have Kate's genes.

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    3. ^I was actually thinking just the other day how much Charles looks like the Duke of Windsor, with that puppy dog-eyed/helpless sad stare thing they do.

      Charles has grown on me, and I really think he stepped up as a father after Diana's death, but I agree that he still seems very weak and petulant at times.

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    4. I agree with what you say apart from the part about the Queen Mother, I didn't like her, I found her antagonism towards Duchess of Windsor dreadful and I always thought she wasn't what she seemed. I think she pulled the wool over many people's eyes with her grandmotherly image and I think she spoiled Charles. Just my opinion, of course, I can never really know as I never met her but I do think it is well documented about her view on Wallis.

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    5. Queen Mother was very often unpleasant for Diana. Probably she didn't liked Diana. I was always wonder why, because QM was described rather as a lovely and brave woman.

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    6. Hi, Jane,

      Thank you so much for your kind response to my comments.

      I enjoy your posts so much. They are always intelligent and entertaining. Things on the "Kate front" are rather quiet for now but please continue...

      My thanks also to others who commented.

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  17. I love this blog and how you write, Jane <3 It is definitely the best blog about Kate that exists. But regarding this post, I thought Diana was not only sad, she had the greatest blessing in her life with her kids, and obviously she was such excellent mother loving her children that one can see they still are attached to her, and they will always be. She also found the love of her life, a bit late, but still... And for sure she met all kind of wonderful and inspiring people wherever she went. Her usual sad pose was part of her personality, but I do think that there was also a lot of joy inside. Kate is very different, but in many ways so similar, and William for sure was able to see some of the best qualities of his mother in Kate, that's very clear. I like the melancholic feeling after reading this post, who doesn't remember Diana and what happened to her? Still, I would have love to read also more positive things about Diana :) Perhaps in a future post! xxx Lupe

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  18. Marvellous post. Truly.

    And for you astrology fans... I would sum it up by saying: Diana was a Cancer, Kate is a Capricorn ;)

    Camilla

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  19. Another well thought out post, Jane. I think Diana captured the fancy of people around the world because it was the first wedding broadcast worldwide. I know Princess Elizabeth, Margret and Anne's weddings were broadcast in England but not around the world. Diana, and later Fergie were the first royals whose every move was followed by the media. Kate is not the only person today who generates a media frenzy every time they step out their door. Every celebrity seems subject to this scrutiny. Why....I don't know. I think the difference between Kate and Diana is partly due to their age when they married, but probably mainly due to the difference in their home life and education when younger. Diana came from a broken home, and as a result, was very needy. She sought out attention but wanted it only to be on her terms. I think that because of her neediness, she deliberately dressed and behaved in a way that would draw attention to herself and away from other members of the royal family. Did anyone really see Anne or Princess Margaret when Diana was present? Kate, on the other hand, grew up in an intact family and was not needy. While she wanted to be with William, when they broke up temporarily, she didn't attempt suicide, or throw a fit. Instead, she went out and enjoyed herself. She said herself that the breakup made her a stronger person. She learned that she could exist without William. By her own admission, Diana was not brilliant nor well educated. Kate may or may not be smarter than Diana - we don't really know - but she is definitely better educated and less sheltered. So she probably has more confidence. Finally, Diana was never certain of Charles love. There was always someone in the background. Kate is certain of William's love. He left all others behind and because he is simply a different person than his father, and he became an adult in a different age, he doesn't hesitate to show his affection for his wife, his child, and even his dog. His love for Kate has never been in doubt.

    I think it would be interesting to know how Diana would have felt about her sons' wives. While I really liked Diana, I tend to feel that she wouldn't really care for the attention Kate is receiving, especially if it took attention away from her. Perhaps if she and Charles had a successful marriage, it would be different. After 30 years, she might have become more secure and not so needy. But, that is a discussion that no one would really be able to know with certainty that they were correct in their opinion, since we never got to see any interaction between Diana and Kate. I wonder, if tor William's sake, if maybe it is better this way.

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  20. Jane, thank you so much for complying with my request :-). I have been looking forward to this post and it has been worth waiting for!! I think, it's one of the best you ever wrote. Throw away your model career and extend writing ;-). At this point I regret not being able to explain my enthusiasm in a foreign language. I'm absolutely touched by your words and also all the comments (thank you all for sharing your thoughts)!

    I have to admit I don't know that much about Diana. I was quite young when she lived, no one in my environment was interested in her and I read magazines about horses, so I didn't encounter any information about her and - to be honest - I'm glad about that because I remember her day of death very well: It was my 12th birthday. I remember her every year, but without being too touched.

    So my fascination about Kate has nothing to do with Diana. I can't really remember when it started. It has been some time after her wedding, when I read articles and watched videos about her and the wedding occasionally because I married in 2011, too. The interest increased.
    Of cause, I like her fashion style and I'm always enthusiastic when she wears (or wore in her pre-engagement days) kind of clothes I have already in my wardrobe.
    She is that kind of person I have always been jealous of, especially at school: sporting, popular, successful, beautiful, self confident. But additionally she is friendly, pleasant, down-to-earth. This is everything I ever wanted to be. I have been a child that looked after role models. Things changed but I am still interested in other people's life and it's helpful to improve and advance my personal life. It has just been said in the comments: Everybody likes and probably needs a break and a fairytale. Kate is mine in this period of my life, first been a newly-wed like me and now being a new-mum like me. I know she has a completely different life than I have but I love to be inspired by her and that's what it's all about!

    P.S.: I hope I could express myself clearly. And also sorry again for my mistakes - present perfect or simple past - it can be so difficult :-/. Like Cinzy, I also use commenting here for practising - killing two birds with one stone ;-)

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    1. Vicky, it was lovely to read your post. Thank you for sharing your English practise with us.

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  21. I was 11 when Diana and Charles married and I thought she was the luckiest and most glamorous woman on earth. Growing up watching it all fall apart made me an even bigger Diana fan because I could not help rooting for her. Now I am rooting for Kate and William to have the happy, loving family Diana dreamed of.

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  22. You hit the nail on the head Jane!

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  23. I think any woman who was slender, was not particularly vocal, and smiled constantly would be in the exact position Kate is, media-wise, and Diana comparisons would continue to be made even if not warranted.

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  24. You say at the top "During that happiest of royal watching times--April 2014", there trip to Australia and New Zealand with baby George? Or do you mean April 2011 when they got married?

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    1. I am referring to the Down Under tour, but obviously, there have been many wonderful royal watching moments. The engagement, the wedding, Canada 2011, George's birth... The Down Under tour is most proximate and it was a personally very happy time for me, but I did overstate the superiority, given how many wonderful options there are from which to choose. :)

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  25. In my opinion we are fascinated because young British royals are pretty popular. Kate as an individual has nothing to do with this. ANY young woman who married William would've been closely followed by the public. I don't know what her personal traits are, whether she is an amazing person or a very boring one, but once she, a woman by any name, married an heir to the throne, she became a star.

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    1. I absolutely agree.

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    2. Yes, I agree too. I enjoy following Kate, her clothes, Prince George, etc. but not in the same way that I enjoyed following Diana. I think that the difference is that Diana came out of no where. As of a sudden, Prince Charles was dating this beautiful, young aristocrat with a title of her own and then boom--married in a spectacular wedding. As the Archbishop of Canterbury so aptly put it, "This is the stuff of which fairy tails are made." Kate on the other hand was overexposed by years of dating William, years of criticism for being "Waity Katie", accusations of being lazy. There wasn't the same sort of fairy tale surrounding Kate. As of this being said, I think that in the long run it will be Kate who actually attains the fairy tail. The wait was necessary for her and William and that is all that matters. Good for her!

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    3. @AnonymousSeptember 28, 2014 at 5:19 AM

      Yeah, I've never wanted to compare Kate to Diana. In the beginning they both became famous because they married into the royal family, however there is a HUGE difference between these two women. Diana took a pretty rotten deal and emerged as a beautiful, compassionate and warm person. Kate on the other hand is blessed with great family, a good husband and the luck of joining the royal family AFTER the Diana's tragedy. Kate does minimum of what is asked of her and not striving to really connect and make a difference. I'm glad she is happy with her life choices and seems to be pretty well-grounded overall, but to ask why is she a Star is silly, because she isn't. She is famous for marrying a Prince and that's it.

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    4. Completely agree, she is famous for marrying a prince-that is all!

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  26. The comment above - thank you RMJH in Canada - I agree. Redemption. That is my hope, and definitely one of the reasons I follow Kate and William.

    Kate and William look at each other the right way. They touch each other the right way. By which I mean - they look and touch like people who actually love to be together. Who are not acting or playing or pretending or forcing. I never saw Diana and Charles do that. I can't think of a single time when their togetherness did not look...uncomfortable.

    Of course, now, we know how very uncomfortable it was. Always.

    That has been a sad truth in the lives of William and Harry from the beginning. I hope for them all of the happiness that their parents never got to enjoy.

    William and Kate seem to have such a bond, such a joy in their connection. I hope they always will. I'm glad they found each other.

    Thank you, Jane, for writing about them so fluidly and respectfully and warmly and beautifully. I dropped by your blog a long time back - and stayed because it is a place of excellence and love.

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    1. I am late responding to this, so I don't know if you will see this at all, but I was very touched by your closing comment. I am so gratified that those are the two virtues your ascribed to this blog, they are certainly two of my personal priorities. A very sincere thanks to you.
      Jane Barr

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  27. I guess I am more inclined to agree with IPSeptember 25, 2014 at 9:03 PM & "AnonymousSeptember 23, 2014 at 1:06 PM".

    The BM is popular (I think because of it's language and it's close ties to the US as ally, friend, etc.). The BM is covered so much more than any other royal household in the US because of this. Then came Diana. She had *something* no other royal ever had. When she left, her children were left with the love her mother held and to that you add the desire to love them even more bc they were left bereft.

    PW was always going to marry a young and beautiful young lady. Given his parents "love story" we all want the best love story for PW. Whoever he married was going to have the world's attention (perhaps not so if he had married until he/she were 50 :P that is why I said his wife would be as popular being YOUNG and BEAUTIFUL).

    I don't think we can say it's because Kate's personality etc. I don't think she has been given (or we have been given) the chance to show us what makes her special/unique. We have just seen a young and beautiful young lady.

    Yes, Kate is polished but did anyone ever expect PW to marry a Kim Kardashian?

    I was too young to follow Princess Diana (but not so that I do not remember her death). After Will and Kate married I had great expectations for Kate. I don't know how to put this... but my expectations have certainly changed. I don't really think Kate is much of a role model or inspiration to me. She is just a pretty young lady. I follow her because of my interest in all things foreign - to this I now add my interest in royal households, no longer limited to the BM - and most definitely my interest in fashion. No I never try to "REPLIKATE" or run to a store after XY item. I just like to watch her fashion choices same as I like to browse PINTEREST and Fashion blogs.

    I haven't seen her dive into charity work, I haven't heard her speak what is on her mind/heart, I haven't seen her championing a cause, I haven't seen her at the UN, I haven't seen her achieve goals no other royal, I have never heard of career goals achieved, etc. so I can't say I have great admiration for her.

    I know she loves William, I know she has strong family ties, I know William is comfortable with her family and appears to be happy with her, I know she doesn't want to be a public person, I know she follows William's lead and decisions for her life, I know she gets a lot of people scrutinizing and speculating on her and her life but also a lot of people in love with her, that want to be her and that defend her aggressively.
    So I should add another factor as to why I follow Kate is to observe her following :p (hope that makes sense).

    I also believe Harry's wife will have the world's attention and we will all be rooting for that marriage as well. Maybe she'll be even more popular than Kate I have always thought he is the most "likeable" and popular royal and the DM published an article/poll this week that confirms my suspicion. Harry is a lot more laid back and comfortable with the press so maybe so will she.

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    1. I could not have said it better myself. I agree with everything you said. Whoever William married was going to be this popular. I don't think it really has anything specifically to do with Kate. The media follows her because she is young and beautiful and honestly they care more about her fashion choices, she has a great figure, so anything she wears looks lovely. And like you said, whoever William married was going to be young, fit and beautiful. That poll that came out were Harry was named the most popular royal, had Kate coming in at 4th behind the Queen and William. I think she is starting to loose some of her popularity.

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  28. Your post here is wonderful. There are so many things people have observed here about Kate and Diana but the one thing we know for sure is that Diana had a somewhat tragic life from the time her parents divorced and she was a victim of a bitter custody battle. She grew up to marry into a loveless marriage full of betrayal and jealousy which played out before the entire world in the international press. She raised two fine young men who learned what the love of an adoring mother was because she knew what she missed in her life. I think the reason William waited so long before asking Kate to marry him is so he could make absolutely sure he would never make the same mistakes his father did. Poor Kate had to suffer the "Waity Katie" moniker but I think she knew very well what William's concerns were. As a result she has a wonderful marriage to a man who is truly in love with her and she with him. The two other things Kate has that Diana never did is a loving, close knit family to support her and the fact that William's family learned some hard lessons at Diana's expense. I'm sure William and Harry would never allow their respective spouses to be treated the way their mother was treated. Whoever it was who said Charles is a weak, cowardly man got it right. He didn't love Diana so he never protected her. If he hadn't been jealous of her he would have embraced her popularity and compassionate nature and become a very popular royal himself. Instead he and Camilla are tolerated. Kate is a wonderful combination of public personality and private wife and mother. When she becomes the Princess of Wales, as she most certainly will at some point, she will have had the opportunity to lay a wonderful foundation for her family as she is required to take on a full-time royal schedule. I say, good for her!

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