Wife of Prince William, Kate Middleton, new Princess of Wales, has established herself over the years as a key figure in the British royal family, and one of the most popular.
Slender and confident, with her dark hair flowing over her shoulders and her elegant attire, Catherine, 40, who was given the title of Princess of Wales by the new King Charles on Friday, performs her royal duties with impeccable grace, while keeping her showing as a modern and attentive mother for her three children.
Glamor at the preview of James Bond, engaged in videoconferences with caregivers during the Covid pandemic: no missteps, no controversy tarnished his image.
The British press sees her as a model member of the monarchy, the opposite of her sister-in-law Meghan Markle, married to Harry, William’s younger brother. The Sussex couple, at odds with the royal family, now lives in California.
Feet on the ground
The new Prince and Princess of Wales are the most popular of the Windsor clan. Kate (68% of favorable opinions) even exceeds her husband (66%), according to a YouGov poll carried out last spring.
Long discreet, she remains calm under pressure, cultivates an image of naturalness spiced up with a zest of glamor – even when she serves draft beers, all smiles, in a pub during a tour of Northern Ireland.
“She has… a loving family that supports her, so she keeps her feet on the ground.“, explains to AFP Penny Junor, specialist in the monarchy.
In the street, her neat outfits combining designer pieces and clothes bought in large chains are schooling, and some then sell like hotcakes. Interested in early childhood, Kate is also known for her passion for photography, making the official portraits of her children, George, 9, Charlotte, 7, and Louis, 4, herself.
However, nothing predestined this commoner to this royal life. His mother, a flight attendant, and his father, an air traffic controller, later made their fortunes by setting up a party supplies business.
Her meeting with William at the Scottish University of St Andrews, which she joined in 2001 to study art history, decided otherwise.
Before their engagement in 2010 and then their wedding with great fanfare on April 29 of the following year, the couple moved in together, a first in the monarchy. The lovers experience ups and downs, going as far as breaking up briefly in 2007.
“Model without personality”
Rumors say William unfaithful? Meghan accuses him of making her cry before her wedding? Kate flies over the storms with a reserve bordering on stoicism.
She eventually established herself as a pillar of the crown whose image she helped restore after a series of scandals, including the calamitous marriage of Charles and Diana. To the point, according to the press, of having had a direct line with Elizabeth II.
If the British are seduced, some are irritated by this too smooth image. Actress Keira Knightley criticizes her dapper look outside the maternity ward just hours after giving birth, denouncing the pressure on women to always be “beautiful”. The novelist Hilary Mantel sees in her a “showcase model without personality”.
We only know of her, it is true, for two public darings: a fashion show at university in a transparent dress revealing her underwear and an evening in a nightclub where she was decked out in rabbit ears .
“I think she understands her role, which is to support William first and foremost,” says Penny Junor. “They say she’s boring and a bit conventional. You know, the Queen’s big hit, all those years, was being exactly that.”