What would we do without all of the Duchess of Cambridge’s birthday keenery? I don’t even know. The Sunday Times’ in-house magazine put “Kate at 40” on their cover, and this is Part II of my coverage. The piece is incredibly long and several of Kate’s aides are quoted at length, including Rebecca Priestly, Jason Knauf and Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton. The sections in this post are the “non-Meghan” parts – mentions of Meghan were scattered throughout the piece, because Meghan lives rent-free in Kate’s head and Kate can’t help but show us that constantly. There are a lot of quotes devoted to embiggening Kate as someone who is naturally herself, humble, not showy. Which is funny because Kensington Palace literally had to organize a massive PR campaign around this dry piece of mean-girl toast for her 40th birthday. Some highlights:
Kate & William still have a spark: “He found her really attractive and they’re the couple that still really fancy each other, there’s still a strong attraction. She finds him hilarious, they’re very into each other.”
Waity Katie: After her job at Jigsaw became too difficult with the paparazzi, she went to work for her parents’ party-planning business and was attacked for being a “Waity Katie” who was biding her time until William made an honest woman of her. Reports that some in William’s circle nicknamed her “Doors to Manual”, in a reference to her mother Carole’s former career as a flight attendant, are said to be an “urban myth” by those close to the prince, but the future queen did not have it easy. “It was never water off a duck’s back, but she has extraordinary strength of character and resilience,” says the aide. “I’ve never once seen or heard of her losing her temper. She went into it with her eyes wide open and her brain engaged. She is a sound, grounded person who knows herself well.”
Her 2011 wedding: A close friend says: “She must have the ability to switch on a tap and ice runs through the veins, because she was so calm throughout.”
Rebecca Priestley speaks again: “Catherine knows every decision is for the rest of her life, everything is for the long game. She was aware she wasn’t an expert in any one field and she wanted to educate herself first, then shine a spotlight where needed. It was a ‘listen and learn’ approach rather than immediately becoming patron of a charity. We did a lot of under-the-radar visits before the public engagements.”
Her British Vogue cover: Kate eschewed haute couture for a country casuals look of T-shirts, trousers, a cosy brown coat and fedora for the photographs, taken on the Queen’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk. A source close to the duchess explains her decision behind the pictures: “It was meant to be a portrait of her at that time in her life, when she was based in Norfolk, not yet a full-time working member of the royal family and not doing the princess thing, so it didn’t feel natural for her to go for ballgowns and tiaras. Alexandra [Shulman, then Vogue editor] was very understanding, but they did have a few gowns on the day ready to go in case they could convince her. [Kate] looked at them with a smile and said, ‘No, we’re going with plan A.’ ”
She worries that people see her as a fashion-plate lol: A close friend says: “When she goes to the Bond premiere or is at Trooping the Colour, of course she puts on the ‘uniform’ of the role. But what was enormously frustrating and difficult for her, especially in the early days, was she was going out and doing the work she was interested in and was hugely important to her, and people just talked about what she was wearing.”
Kate won’t do something because she thinks the media will like it: An aide says: “We’re never allowed to formulate advice along the lines of ‘it would look good if you did this’ or ‘a quick photo op with the kids would be easy for this’ — that is the quickest way to lose her. It’s not stubbornness, but unlike other public figures she just won’t do it if it’s not done for the right reasons.” Another close adviser says: “How she operates is not reactive. She has stuck to the path that she knows is right for her and her family. It’s not about the quick win.”
The controversial Tatler cover story: Royal hackles were raised last summer when Tatler magazine published a profile entitled “Catherine the Great”, alleging she felt “exhausted and trapped” by her workload after the Sussexes quit royal duties, describing her as “perilously thin”, her mother as a “terrible snob”, sister Pippa as “too regal” and claiming Kate had a poster of William on her wall when she was younger. Kensington Palace said the story contained a “swathe of inaccuracies and false misrepresentations” and the Cambridges instructed lawyers. Tatler removed the above unsubstantiated claims from the online version. A longstanding aide says: “I can count on one hand the number of times a story has upset her, but anything about her family or her parents is a touchpoint.”
She’s shy & guarded: “She is shy,” says a friend. “Very private, quite steady, she is not going to be the one who lets loose, and won’t pull the pin and get lashed,” although she sometimes enjoys a gin and tonic at the end of the day. The couple are expected to host a joint party this summer at Anmer Hall when William also enters his forties. Friends say Kate loves dressing up for cocktails and dinner, and enjoys after-dinner games. In his close circle William is frank about what is on his mind, including family woes. But Kate doesn’t go there. A friend says she is “150 per cent more reserved than William”, and the most they’ve ever seen of her views on Meghan was when she jokingly rolled her eyes at the mention of Suits, the legal drama Meghan starred in before she met Harry.
Jason Knauf on the Keen Buttons & Early Years Institute: “She came up with the full structured plan of how the centre would work. The duchess understands that she is going to have a public role in her own right. She is charting her own course on that and trying to make a long-term relevant contribution.
William is bothered when he’s cropped out of photos: Unlike his parents’ marriage, where Diana’s popularity eclipsed Charles, much to his frustration, William is happy that the future Princess of Wales has found her groove and popularity with the public. There is only occasionally a twinge of frustration when they do joint engagements and he is cropped out of the photographs.
[From The Sunday Times]
This made me really sad: “He found her really attractive and they’re the couple that still really fancy each other, there’s still a strong attraction… they’re very into each other.” Imagine being married to an angry, bald, chronic philanderer who refuses to look at you with anything other than disgust, and all you want for your birthday is to convince people (and yourself) that he’s still attracted to you? Ugh, Kate’s life is so depressing. I mean, she did it to herself. But I do think Meghan probably caught on (very quickly) to the actual dynamic between the Cambridges.
There’s so much dumb sh-t in this piece too – “How she operates is not reactive… It’s not about the quick win.” It’s not about ANY win. It’s about busy-work for Kate, not wins. Her aim is to tread water and nothing more. And yes, I do think that she has ice in her veins. There’s a coldness to Kate that all of the cosplaying, maniac grins and copykeening can’t hide.
PS… She stuck to her guns about the British Vogue cover because she was hellbent on copykeening Jecca Craig, pass it on.
Covers courtesy of British Vogue, Tatler, Sunday Times, additional photos courtesy of Avalon Red and Instar.
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