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5 Years with Jane & Kate: Could the Cambridges Become too Common?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


This is a another post in the "5 Years with Jane & Kate" series. You can see an explanation of the series and the first post here

This post is from June of 2011. We were gearing up for the Cambridges' first overseas tour and Canada was bursting with anticipation. I guess we all were. Funnily enough, five years later we are back on the threshold of another trip to Canada! This was a real landmark tour for Kate and we knew that before she even left Britain. As I discussed recently in "Commoner to Duchess of Cambridge" this tour would debut for us a whole new royal wardrobe, and touched off an even greater fashion frenzy that has followed the Duchess ever since. For my part, I had graduated from college and was home on my parents' couch (literally I remember writing this on the couch in the living room) happy to blog and follow the royals. I wasn't entirely idle, I was half-heartedly studying for an insurance license, but mostly I was enjoying my third month with this new blogging thing. In June 2011 this post got three comments, which was really exciting for me! Actually, two if you discount my response. It just goes to show that blog traffic and engagement are always relative, so if you are a new blogger, keep trekking! I still agree with this post, and five years later, I think the Cambridges have done a pretty good job balancing the modern with the royal. I wish they'd come to more "royal" events, but I suspect we will see more of that as the years tick by. Without further ado, from June 27, 2011:

Could the Cambridges Get To Be Too Common? 




Several news outlets are reporting another instance of the relaxed style of the young royals.  Will and Kate are telling people that titles are not essential in their up-coming tour.  I haven't seen any official statement and perhaps it was a more unofficial discussion of their interaction with crowd--which frankly can't be that regulated anyway, so the relevancy is debatable, but brings up an interesting discussion.  Obviously, this rather avant-garde attitude has both proponents and dissenters.  There are clearly advantages to be gained from the down to earth attitude that the new Duke and Duchess are displaying, people see them as more approachable, and more normal.  Although a genuine expression of their obvious kindness, and goodwill, being seen as more "regular" royals may improve their stock amongst us "plebeians" but I think there can be a negative backfire. 


Prince Charles


As mentioned before in this blog, the royal stamp sets William, Catherine, and the entire family apart from other celebrities.  In the Middle Ages many things contributed to the royals' strength and stability.  Among other things, a king ruled by divine right, personal strength, and the strength of the army in war.  Today one of the key factors of the monarch's strength is carrying on the age old traditions that remind us all of the history that sets them apart.  The fact that William is the grandson x 27 of William the Conqueror is a big deal.  That his ancestors for a thousand years have been hailed as sovereigns and kings, princes and princesses, whose family tree spreads across almost every royal household in Europe is a big deal.  This establishment is built on many things, but a major aspect is the tradition of respect. William isn't like you or me, he was born a prince, and although we understand this concept less and less in our modern and democratic world, for the monarchy to survive this idea must be preserved.  


William in robes for the Garter Ceremony, an Order originating in 1348.

Don't get me wrong, looking toward the future, Will and Kate are the best asset the British monarchy has, but I just don't want to see them overdo the common man thing.  They aren't common, that is the whole point.  And frankly, as the new Duke and Duchess are still a whiles away from the throne, a little relaxation is healthy for their image and the occasion.  Kate's High Street choices, the cozy farm house in Anglesey, we love it all.  As long as they hold up the pomp and ceremony, the tradition and history, when they should it all could be the perfect balance.  

27 comments:

  1. I totally agree Jane!

    There must be a balance. I understand their desire to be 'normal' 'just like you and I' but they are not and I want them to be 'different' 'royal' .... yes of course we are the same on many levels but William is heir. He will be King and the long history is still present today through him and his children. No amount of trying to be 'common' is going to change the fact that he is HRH Prince William Duke of Cambridge.... and there is nothing common about him at all! I love the history and pomp and tradition. If we let that go it would be a sad day!

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    1. I think that, as the years have gone by, the situation isn't so much that they are "common" but that they are more relatable. They are royal, they have more money than most of us, they rub elbows with some of the oldest royal families in the world as well as celebrities. The very fact of who they are allows them entrance into places we will never see and, at some point, William will consult with the British Prime Minister every week. None of that is common. However, they have let us know that just because of who they are doesn't mean that they don't have sleepless nights with a fussy baby, that they know what the inside of a store looks like, and that their dog escapes and chases them out of the yard and needs to be carried back behind the gate. No offense against HMTQ, she is from a different era, but have you ever seen her with her dozens of dogs when they weren't just hanging about while she was in her suit, nylons, and dress shoes? One might get the impression that those dogs were all house trained and fed by magic because one cannot imagine those gloved royal hands doing the dirty work. W&K aren't common at all but they are certainly more relatable. Diana was the bridge between the old (HMTQ and POW) and the new. W&K are the new.

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    2. Robin, "bridge" is an excellent way of describing Diana's role.

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  2. Where on earth did you find that picture of Charles? It's fantastic!

    Seriously though this post is wonderful and I thoroughly enjoy these "time capsule" posts. Thank you for these past years of your blog Jane and as things come "full circle" back to a Canada your I look forward to many more.

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    1. The picture is from Prince Charles' investiture as Prince of Wales in 1969 https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Investiture_of_the_Prince_of_Wales

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  3. First off,where do you find such nice photos?Secondly,IMO the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have done a remarkably good job of maintaining a balance.But to respect someone just because of the title is absurd.I respect the monarchy because they serve the public.I respect William and Catherine for their choice to highlight important issues such as mental health.Substance+style=a royal doing their job right.
    I find the concept of a constitutional monarchy superior to that of an absolute monarchy.Queen Elizabeth II has been a fairly good model for this concept to work.I guess that's why William looks up to her.

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  4. I cannot help wondering how crazy the Cambridge house might be at this time 😁 They leave tomorrow for Canada and it must be daunting (even with help) to prepare for a trip like this with 2 little ones. I had 3 and we travelled but no one was at the other end who was checking out to see if my kids had both shoes on ....a rumpled shirt or a stain. LOL

    I assume George was be thrilled and excited to fly on a big plane. Last time he was young. This time? He will be screaming with delight. Hope Charlotte handles it ok. She seems to be sensitive to noise. But again she was younger and perhaps not feeling great (seemed to be teething).

    Wishing them a restful night and a safe flight and I am ready for a week of pictures. I see Kate is going to pay a visit to the Netherlands in October. Another sign of stepping up.

    Happy 1st Day of Autumn all πŸƒπŸ‚πŸ

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    1. I imagine it was all about making sure the little ones got to bed early so they would be ready for the big day tomorrow. Hopefully, Kate wasn't up too late (as I always was) making sure everything was ready to go and that everything left behind would be squared away. With luck the altitude will make the little ones sleepy and they'll nap on the plane.

      In hone of the first day of Autumn it was only 72ΒΊ here today. I was happy. (Got to do a little Roe shopping today as well!)

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    2. Still waiting for Autumn, ladies. It was 84 degrees today. :)

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  5. Hello Jane, love your blog. I have followed it since it begun never commented. But I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your hard work to get this done for us. I love the Cambridges and can't wait for the tour. I get giddy when they are on tour. I check your blog in the AM and PM. You would think I have no job. But I like to see the issues they fight for. They affect us all especially when you have kids like me. Because you realize you have the ability to help a young person prosper by just listening to their struggles.

    I hope they have a good trip. Traveled with my kids overseas and it was by the far the most hectic ever. So I hope they bring loads of help.

    I agree that I don't think they will overdo the common thing. William isn't about to be king yet and so being able to be approachable is important. If he was king and told folks to call him just Will then we have a problem.

    I hope they continue their hard work and do what we common people can't do, and that is highlight do many causes and such a grand scale.

    Thank you Jane for the blog.

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  6. I think some of the pomp will be eliminated by Charles and more will go during William's reign. For years and years, the Queen essentially did things the Queen Mother's way. She was brought up in the very early years of the 20th century and so had a formal and old-fashioned approach to many things. I thought it was interesting to see the Dutch king and queen at their state opening. Morning suit in place of be-medalled uniform and a colourful gown and hat in place of a white evening dress,tonnes of jewels and a crown. I expect we will be a similar toning down in the years to come.

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    1. Maxima is stunning on formal occasions! Her coronation gown was gorgeous!! I could see W&K being less formal as king and queen, but I am not so sure about Charles. While it's true that he advocates downsizing the monarchy and will, most likely, make some changes, it's also important to remember how long he has "waited" for the job; I think he will enjoy the pomp and circumstance when he is king, with Camilla at his side. He has been known to advocate, but not always lead by example.

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    2. I don't think the British royals will ever go that casual with a State Opening. That would throw away hundreds of years of the kind of pomp the people expect from their royals. I think the Dutch royal family has always been a little more approachable. I remember being told by a friend in The Netherlands that when she was a little girl she would line up outside the Soestdijk Palace on Christmas and Queen Juliana would sit out on the steps and greet her subjects as they came through. I don't think we'll ever see that with the BRF.

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    3. I think a lot will depend on when Charles becomes king: if he has to wait another 15 years or so, then he may not do evening engagement-- HM does very few now..
      Pomp and ceremony can be tiring when the monarch is very old and it seems as though we will have a long line of very elderly monarchs in the future.
      However, though this Canadian visit has no evening affairs to bring out the tiaras, there does seem to be some pomp for the arrival and the following day in Vancouver..

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  7. I think the Cambridge's are getting it right and I am so looking forward to the tour! :)

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  8. I took a week of vacation during the Cambridge wedding five years ago to soak up all of the television and internet coverage I could. I had a thoroughly splendid week and best of all, I discovered Jane's blog. I love your posts and the pictures you pick to illustrate your points of view. If these were ever collected in book form, I would definitely buy it. I enjoy reading everyone's comments and occasionally, I jump into the fray. But mostly, I think William and Kate are pretty darn great and I have very little negative to say. I was a very impressionable twelve year old when Princess Diana burst onto the scene, and I think she would be very pleased and proud of her boys at this stage of their lives. With Catherine and Harry by his side, I think William will make a great king. I will be one of the many adoring American fans hoping to be camped out in front of Westminster Abbey when the Cambridges are crowned. And I also hope many of my fellow royal fans will join me there. Thanks again, Jane, for all that you do- I enjoy "seeing" your personality in print here in this forum. I can't wait to see this little family of four do Canada in a big way. Now if only I could shake off this Brangelina divorce news....

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    1. A week off? You have put me to shame...I just took the day of the wedding off. :)

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  9. I think you are right about elimination of some of the pomp and some things being toned down in the future, but I do hope Charles does not severely "streamline" the monarchy as he mentioned several years ago. The Wessexes and Princess Anne have represented the Queen well. It would be a bad choice to sideline them if they wish to continue, as they seem to be well-respected. And who knows whether the York girls want to/could/should take on more official appearances in the coming years. Re the Dutch Prinsjesdag, the dress code was not changed by Willem-Alexander on his accession several years ago but is court dress code dating dating back more than a hundred years. Reportedly it is a design challenge to combine hats and sashes with a long dress for daytime wear.

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  10. I too hope not too much of the pomp and circumstance is removed.


    As I recall, Diana did try to expose her sons to the way others live while protecting them from press intrusions as well as she could. But really much of what Diana accomplished through her charity work IMO was to increase the relevance of the monarchy both at home and abroad as the 21st century approached. My memory may be faulty but I don't remember Diana (when she was still married to Charles and was HRH) trying to convince the world **by words** she was just a normal mother although she did well with her public "approachable" persona and her public interactions with her children. To me, the monarchy won't remain as relevant if its members are simply seen as "normal people" with unusual  privilege, pots of money, no income tax obligations, and a bunch of castles. 


    I think Will and Kate are doing fine but not great in this regard. I think their charity work is useful and important (although it may not be able to remain quite so "targeted" as Will gets closer to the throne.) But as I have said before, I think SOME of the criticism they have gotten in the last couple of yrs. MAY come from their requests and requests on their behalf by PR staff to be seen as "normal." Their lives definitely aren't normal in many ways when compared to how most people live. So it's a fine line to walk. And IMO any royal normality is better demonstrated through actions and interactions with the public than announced verbally! 

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    1. They have always clarified that they realize that they are privileged, but prefer to do some things that they can control in a normal manner. Specifically referring to driving themselves home from the hospital after the births. William clearly stated this in the interview. I don't think the problem lies with them appearing normal, but rather with the public who many times equate the royals with themselves. The younger royals appear more normal because they are more laid back and approachable. Any yes they do pay taxes.

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    2. I honestly think that I have read more references about W&K **not** being normal from their followers than I have ever read about W&K stating that they want to be or are...

      I agree with 11:56; W&K are aware that their lives are not normal and never will be, but they want to do things their way if/when possible. Dare I suggest that if W&K's approach represents a threat to the monarchy, then C&C (a very Edwardian couple) should be a very popular pair.

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    3. One more point... Diana made it very clear that she wanted her boys to have as normal an upbringing as possible and she was criticised for it. People may not realize just how much ... I even recall a quote where she stated that Charles thought she was overdoing it. Well if you look at the fine young men William and Harry turned out to be then it may be appropriate to say ha! :)

      What William and Kate are being criticized for today may represent the equivalent "growing pains" *for the public* as we watch it happen. Just an additional two cents on the subject...

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  11. They do pay income tax.

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    1. They do not pay income taxes on crown income - they make payments in lieu of taxes.

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  12. Have not yet read the above comments, because I wanted to express, without influence, my own POV. With no further ado....

    *Could the Cambridges become more common?* Yes, if by that you mean become more like the decadent Windsors of recent decades--not to mention the Mountbattens--or more like some of their aristo friends, whom William seems to have inherited, c/o Mum and Dad, or like those who indulge in sex, drink or drugs in any class.

    But there is nothing wrong with adopting the best solid middle and working class values. Of course, there would be an Establishment backlash--they could forget freebie private flights c/o the Duke of Westminster, etc. And it would take time before the *lower* classes, like myself, would believe that William, in particular, was sincere. With his immediate history, parents who cheated, lied, and took advantage of their rich acquaintances, LOTS of time.

    Nevertheless, I believe that this is the only way forward, hard as it may be, primarily for William. Unless he's just another Windsor ostrich like the QM, the Q, and, I suspect, his father, hr must have noted the growing republican sentiment at home and in the realm countries.

    Given that, as a responsible parent, he needs to prepare his children for TWO potential futures: one as royals, and one as commoners. If he succeeds in this, with the help of Kate, he will also promote the cause of monarchy; if he fails, wave bye-bye to this ancient, and, as it now stands, anachronistic blot on the landscape.

    As I see it.

    JC

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  13. I just love the way you write Jane, you xan express yourself (= what I think) perfectly. I agree 100%, we follow their lives because they are not just a normal citizen, they are royal! But still, royals are only humans, too :)

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  14. Although they are the future king and queen and have a lot of money, but apart from that they really aren't that different from us. They are human beings. They can get sick, they can have problems. They don't have anything special flowing in their veins. They only thing that makes them special is that people think they are special. If everyone stopped caring about the BRF they wouldn't be that special. If no one showed up outside BP during the Trooping the Colour, they would have nothing to do. They derive their only power from the people.
    Unlike what people thought in other times, they are not "divine" or "holy" or "Gods" or "dieties". God did not choose them to reign. Their ancestors probably won a sword fight to see who ruled. Also, people are mad enough at them for taking money out of poor people's pockets, even though they do not need them. The last thing they need is for people to start thinking that they think they're better than everyone else, which they're not. All human beings are equal no matter what. People worship many people, like Kim K. Doesn't mean their holy.

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