By Danica Kirka | Associated Press
LONDON – At least there’s Kate.
The Duchess of Cambridge, who turns 40 on Sunday, has emerged as Britain’s trusted royal.
After Prince Harry and Meghan’s stormy departure for California in 2020, Prince Philips’ death last year, and now accusations of sexual abuse against Prince Andrew, former Kate Middleton remains in the public eye as the smiling mother of three who can comfort grieving parents at 6 p.m. a children’s hospital or impress the nation by playing the piano during a TV Christmas concert.
“This is the woman who was the ordinary one who married into the royal family and who has not stumbled, has not caused any embarrassment,” Katie Nicholl, author of “Kate: The Future Queen.” “It has not been an easy year, and yet Kate somehow seems to be a bit of a beacon in all of this.”
At a time when the House of Windsor is facing more than its share of controversy, Prince Williams’ spouse has won awards for his commitment to early education, art and music. The charities she supports pay tribute to her willingness to engage personally in their causes.
Olivia Marks-Woldman was touched by the care Kate put into photographing Holocaust survivors Steven Frank and Yvonne Bernstein for an exhibition sponsored by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. Prior to filming, the Duchess spent time learning the stories of her motifs and using knowledge to compose the images, said Marks-Woldman, the trust’s CEO.
“It was a really involved, thoughtful participation,” she recalled. “But even after these pictures were taken, the Duchess supported the project and supported Steven and Yvonne and took an interest in them and sent them Christmas cards, invited them to the Christmas carol service at Westminster Abbey recently and has just been wonderful.”
Tracy Rennie, vice president of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices, has a similar account from the day Kate visited one of the organization’s facilities in 2019. The Duchess agreed to speak with the parents and other relatives of a child who had recently died , because they wanted to meet her, even though their pain was still raw.
“It was actually a really supportive conversation, to the point where we had a laugh and a joke together as a family before we left – you would not imagine that in such a difficult situation,” Rennie said. “They felt absolutely honored that she had taken her time and were overwhelmed that she was a ‘normal person’ – their words, not mine. They felt she really cared.”
Kate is a royal of her choice, not birth.
The daughter of a flight attendant and a flight attendant, Catherine Elizabeth Middleton, was born in Reading, England, on January 9, 1982, and grew up with a younger sister, Pippa, and a younger brother, James.
The Middleton family, from a prosperous area of Berkshire, west of London, moved to Jordan when Kate was 2 years old because of her father’s work. They returned to England in 1986 and Kate attended the exclusive Marlborough College, where she was active in sports including 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 second in line to inherit the British throne after his father, Prince Charles.
First friends and then roommates along with two other students, William and Kate were romantically linked around 2004 when they were pictured together on a ski trip in Switzerland. Kate graduated in 2005 with a degree in art history and a budding relationship with the prince.
William complained about the press intrusion, and Kate’s lawyers asked the newspaper’s editors to leave her alone. Still, the British media followed every turn of their relationship, including a brief split in 2007. William later acknowledged that the couple’s romance faltered for several months, saying they were both young and trying to find a way.
The tabloids christened her “Waity Katie” for her patience during their courtship. The couple eventually married at Westminster Abbey in 2011. They have three children.
During 11 years under the royal microscope, Kate has 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 flower girl dresses ahead of Meghan and Harry’s wedding in 2019. Kate and the palace responded with silence.
Still, Kate still has the ability to surprise.
For a Christmas Eve Christmas concert at Westminster Abbey, she sat down at a piano and accompanied Scottish singer Tom Walker on “For They Who Can’t Be Here”, a song inspired by loss and separation during the pandemic.
While it was no secret that Kate had studied the instrument, the pre-recorded performance during a national television concert was something completely new. Walker said he did not know what to expect when the palace suggested the Duchess could accompany him to perform the new song at the event.
“It was basically, for the Duchess, a huge game,” Walker told the AP. “It’s really like jumping into the deep end and just hoping you can swim. Because I wanted my own reservations about rocking up a venue to play with someone else’s band on a song I did not have. written, and do it with absolute grace. It’s not an easy thing, so it must have been quite a challenge. “
Cinematographer Nicholl, who has seen Kate for years, said the show provides an insight into Kate’s character who describes 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 focusing on the life of the monarchy, Kate’s place as the wife of a future king and mother of another will grow even larger.
“I think the monarchy is in safe hands,” Nicholl said.