November 16, 2010 by Post Team
Kate Middleton, (AFP) – After Prince William finally proposed to Kate Middleton following years of courtship the big question now is how she will cope with her new role, amid inevitable comparisons with Princess Diana.
“Their lives are never going to be the same from now on. All eyes are going to be on Kate now to see if she follows in Diana’s footsteps,” Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, told AFP.
He added: “The problem with Kate is we know hardly anything about her, it’s impossible to say how she is going to perform as a member of the royal family.”
Diana and Prince Charles — William’s parents — had a fairytale wedding in 1981 but Diana struggled with the media attention and the constraints of being a royal. Their relationship ended in acrimony, adultery and divorce.
But Diana carved out a role for herself as an international fashion icon and charity campaigner and her death in a Paris car crash in 1997 plunged Britain into mourning for the “people’s princess”.
In a mark of his love for his mother, William has given Kate Diana’s engagement ring, officials say.
Judging by Middleton’s conduct so far, where she has taken care not to speak out of line and has taken a backseat role to her boyfriend’s career, she is more likely to take a role akin to Charles’ second wife, Camilla.
“Camilla came on board as a supporting wife to Charles and she has no desire to eclipse him in the way that Diana did. I would think Kate would be of a similar opinion — she’ll be there to support,” he said.
Patrick Jephson, who served as Diana’s private secretary, said 28-year-old Middleton must decide what she wants and agree her role with the rest of the royal family.
“When Diana arrived, nobody had a serious talk to her about what she was going to do. She made it up. She developed her own style and role and in the end it got out of synchronisation with the rest of the household,” he said.
Jephson added: “Kate’s not just going into a marriage, she’s going into a business… It’s duty first. In this position, if you don’t understand what your duty is, you’re going to come unstuck.”
Although Middleton and Prince William have been together for nearly eight years, having met at St Andrews University in Scotland, she has sought to keep out of the spotlight.
The couple had a relatively normal life at university, undisturbed by the media, but when Middleton moved to London after graduating she was constantly hounded by the paparazzi — drawing the first comparisons with Diana.
After a year working for a fashion label Kate retreated to work for her parents’ children’s party business — a move derided by some commentators as simply a way to fill her time before marriage, dubbing her “waity Katy”.
Whatever the reason, the time spent with her parents, businessman Michael and former air stewardess Carole, at the family home in Berkshire in southeast England has helped her maintain a low profile this year.
All this is set to change. News of the engagement has prompted an explosion of media interest that is only set to grow ahead of the wedding, and then questions will inevitably turn to when the couple plan to have children.
There is some respite in the home they will share once they are married — the newlyweds are set to move to northwest Wales where William currently serves as a Royal Air Force search and rescue pilot.
“She’ll become a service wife,” Dickie Arbiter, Queen Elizabeth II’s former press secretary, told the BBC. “He will be very much a working helicopter pilot.”
Commentators note Middleton is older than Diana — she is 28 whereas Diana was barely 20 — and therefore better able to cope with the challenges ahead.
Residents of the Berkshire village where Middleton grew up, meanwhile, are full of confidence about her future.
“Kate has obviously been around the royal family for a number of years and she has obviously got the hang of it. She’s a lovely girl and there’s no doubt she’ll cope,” said one local, Alastair McOran-Campbell.
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