The glamorous couple of Kate Middleton and Prince William, now heirs to the British crown, carry the hopes of a modern monarchy close to the British with their three children.
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Her popular Instagram account on Thursday evening shared a black and white photo of Queen Elizabeth II, who died at her Balmoral Castle earlier in the day. But it usually chronicles the life of this seemingly perfect family, with plenty of photos of their three children – Prince George, 9, Princess Charlotte, 7, and Prince Louis, 4, whose grimaces delighted photographers during the Queen’s Jubilee last June.
The couple, both 40, moved last month to the Windsor Estate, where the Queen has normally resided since the COVID pandemic.
On Wednesday, their services released a short video showing their children walking to their new private school to get to know each other. Apparently only one photographer and one videographer were invited, and according to statements from those around them, the young parents tried to enable their children to live as normal a life as possible.
Over the years, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who became the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge on Thursday, have won the hearts of Britons with their image of a happy family, close to the public and far from the tormented childhood by William, whose parents Charles and Diana publicly quarreled, or that of the new king Charles III, who was raised by governesses and educated in boarding schools.
“The enormous interest they arouse” is “obviously” because they embody the future of the monarchy, believes Royale expert Richard Fitzwilliams, but also because of “their very own way” of “regulating things”.
They “have become masters in the art of mastering both the formal and the informal,” he judges.
The couple is often photographed arm in arm at high profile receptions or at major celebrity events like the James Bond premiere. “Kate has long been a fashion icon,” adds Mr Fitzwilliams.
For him, “it’s been very good for British fashion” … but also for the couple’s image.
This very glittery image is offset by a laid-back and close side towards Brits, particularly the couple’s numerous commitments to causes close to their hearts – mental health for William, early childhood for Kate.
The couple regularly reveals secrets about their personal lives, like doing homework while in detention related to COVID, or appearing to be exercising.
Last summer, Prince George was photographed with his parents at England football matches, drawing some mockery for wearing a suit and tie despite his young age.
His mother feeds this image of normality with daily casual photos taken of George in a football shirt on the grass. Other shots show Charlotte handing out food parcels or even painting the youngest with her hands.
It also helps satisfy the press’s insatiable need for pictures of the family while protecting them from the paparazzi who hunted Diana to the point of death.
“There has always been an agreement regarding media coverage of royal children,” although relations with the press may have been “very strained” at certain times, explains Mr Fitzwilliams. “When they’re young, they get some privacy against photos or videos at certain times — like birthdays, Christmas, their first day of school.”
“They’ve been very successful in protecting that mix of normalcy” and royal status, he says.
According to a recent YouGov Institute poll, Kate is the most popular member of the royal family after the Queen. Her husband is hot on her heels, way ahead of her father, King Charles III.
“I think that William and Kate are in many ways the mirrors of the Queen and Philip,” journalist Robert Jobson told AFP about her husband, who died last year.
According to him, Charles’ reign is “regarded as a transition to his son”. One thing is certain: the Cambridges “will bring to the monarchy, after such aged monarchs, a sense of modernity that is probably necessary to contribute to its continued existence.”