The Duchess of Cambridge, the reliable royal, turns 40


LONDON (AP) – At least there’s Kate.

The Duchess of Cambridge, who turns 40 on Sunday, has become the reliable British royal.

After Prince Harry and Meghan’s stormy departure to California in 2020, Prince Philip’s death last year and now allegations of sexual abuse against Prince Andrew, the former Kate Middleton remains in the public eye as smiling mother of three who can comfort grieving parents at a children’s hospice or wow the nation by playing the piano at a televised Christmas concert.

“This is the woman who was the commoner who got married into the royal family and who didn’t stumble, caused no embarrassment,” Katie Nicholl, author of “Kate: The Future Queen”. “It hasn’t been an easy year, and yet Kate seems to be a bit of a beacon in it all.”

At a time when the House of Windsor faces more than its fair share of controversy, Prince William’s wife has been recognized for her commitment to early education, art and music. The charities she supports spring from her willingness to get personally involved in their causes.

Olivia Marks-Woldman was touched by Kate’s care in photographing Holocaust survivors Steven Frank and Yvonne Bernstein for an exhibit sponsored by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. Before the shoot, the Duchess spent time learning the stories of her subjects and used that knowledge to compose the photos, said Marks-Woldman, CEO of the trust.

“It was a very involved and thoughtful participation,” she recalls. “But even after these photographs were taken the Duchess supported the project and supported Steven and Yvonne and took an interest in them and sent them Christmas cards, recently invited them to the Abbey carol service from Westminster and it is just wonderful. “

Tracy Rennie, deputy CEO of East Anglia Children’s Hospices, has a similar account of when Kate visited one of the organization’s facilities in 2019. The Duchess agreed to speak with parents and others relatives of a recently deceased child because they wanted to meet her, even though their pain was still acute.

“It was actually a very encouraging conversation, to the point that we were laughing and joking together as a family before we left – you wouldn’t imagine this in such a difficult situation,” said Rennie. “They felt absolutely honored that she took the time to quit and were overwhelmed by the fact that she was a ‘normal person’ – their words, not mine. They felt she was doing it. really cared.

Kate is royal by choice, not by birth.

The daughter of an air hostess and a flight dispatcher, Catherine Elizabeth Middleton was born in Reading, England on January 9, 1982, and raised with a younger sister, Pippa, and a younger brother, James.

The Middletons, from an affluent area of ​​Berkshire, west London, moved to Jordan when Kate was 2 because of her father’s job. They returned to England in 1986 and Kate attended the very exclusive Marlborough College, where she played sports such as hockey, tennis and netball.

It was at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland that Kate first met Prince William, the eldest son of the late Princess Diana and the second heir to the British throne after her father, Prince Charles.

First friends, then roommates with two other students, William and Kate bonded romantically around 2004, when they were photographed together on a ski trip in Switzerland. Kate graduated in 2005 with a degree in art history and an emerging relationship with the prince.

William complained about the press intrusion, and Kate’s lawyers have asked newspaper editors to leave her alone. Regardless, the UK media followed every twist in their relationship, including a brief break-up in 2007. William later admitted that the couple’s romance had faltered for several months, claiming that they were both young and trying to find their way.

The tabloids nicknamed her “Waity Katie” for her patience during their courtship display. The couple finally got married at Westminster Abbey in 2011. They have three children.

For 11 years under the royal microscope, Kate largely avoided criticism by adopting the royal maxim “never complain, never explain”.

This was evident last year when Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, claimed in an interview with Oprah Winfrey that Kate had made her cry during a disagreement over bridesmaid dresses as she approached her wedding. Meghan and Harry in 2019. Kate and the Palace responded with silence.

Yet Kate still has the ability to surprise.

For a Christmas carol concert at Westminster Abbey, she sat at a piano and accompanied Scottish singer Tom Walker on “For They Who Can’t Be Here,” a song inspired by loss and loss. separation during the pandemic.

While it was no secret that Kate had studied the instrument, the prerecorded performance at a nationally televised concert was something entirely new. Walker said he wasn’t sure what to expect when the palace suggested the Duchess could accompany him to perform the new song at the event.

“It was essentially, for the Duchess, a giant bet,” Walker told the AP. “It’s really jumping in the deep end and just hoping you can swim. Because I would have my own reservations about going to a venue and playing with someone else’s band on a song I hadn’t written and doing it with absolute grace. It’s not an easy thing, so it must have been quite a challenge.

Biographer Nicholl, who has watched Kate for years, said the performance offered a glimpse into Kate’s character, describing her as brave and confident – a person who is aware of her strengths.

With Queen Elizabeth II preparing to celebrate 70 years on the throne later this year and the focus on the longevity of the monarchy, Kate’s place as the wife of one future king and mother of another will be even bigger.

“I think the monarchy is in good hands,” Nicholl said.

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