How Kate Middleton Is Coping With The Pressure Following Megxit

As Kate starts to make public appearances, smiles belie behind-the-scenes turmoil as the royal family continue to navigate ongoing dramas.

kate middleton

by Grazia |

Have you recently found yourself searching for a dreamy floral midi dress, or watching a YouTube tutorial on perfecting a bouncy blow-dry? It can only mean one thing: the Duchess of Cambridge is back. After months of virtual appearances on video calls, Kate has begun to step out for public engagements again. In an interview which aired on BBC Breakfast this morning, she spoke to parents of toddlers on the grounds of Sandringham House in Norfolk. Talking once more about the challenges of parenting young children during lockdown she said, 'Louis doesn't understand social distancing, he goes out wanting to cuddle everything,' - a scenario which will sound all-too familiar to anyone with a toddler. For the appearance she wore a £1500 polka-dot dress by Emilia Wickstead and her hair appeared newly highlighted and chopped - suggesting she's had that all-important first visit from the hairdresser.

Before this, Kate was spotted making three visits around Norfolk in as many weeks – a garden centre in Fakenham, a children’s hospice near Norwich and Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn – she seemed thrilled to be on the journey back to normality. Laughing as she made a ‘big mess’ planting flowers with children, she was in her element. But smiles belie behind-the-scenes turmoil as the royal family continue to navigate ongoing dramas.

Earlier this month, Harry and Meghan’s departure was thrown into stark focus by news that Harry and William have decided to split The Princess Diana Memorial Fund’s future proceeds down the middle, between their separate charities. While this was agreed last year, it has only now come to light at a time when the division between the former Fab Four has never been more clear. While Kate and William are back on duty near their Norfolk home of Anmer Hall, Harry and Meghan are pursuing their own projects in California. And, of course, there’s the continuing issue of their uncle, Prince Andrew, hitting headlines again for his affiliation with billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein (although Andrew has strongly denied any wrongdoing ), following the arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell.

‘It’s a lot to take on,’ a royal insider tells Grazia. ‘William and Kate have spent months doing what they can to be present, supportive representatives of the family, and they’re proud of what they’ve achieved in such strange circumstances. So it must be frustrating to have that work, and the good work of other members of the family, overshadowed. They’ll keep going, of course – Kate is made of steel – but there is a definite sense that they are taking one step forwards and two steps back.’

Both Kate and William are keen to lead the charge, but apparently it is not a matter of choice: their active efforts are part of a plan set by Charles. ‘The generations above are getting quite a bit older,’ says Victoria Arbiter, royal commentator for CNN and author of Queen Elizabeth II. ‘And Harry and Meghan were very much part of Charles’s vision for the future. They have left a gulf of work that needs filling.'

Towards the end of last year, it was reported that Charles wished his sons and their families to be part of a smaller, core royal family, seen as a modernising move, and he was alleged to be ‘furious’ when Harry and Meghan’s news impacted his plans. ‘Now this slimline monarchy is even slimmer,’ Victoria says. ‘When you think of the plethora of engagements that the royal family undertakes, all of that is going to be on the shoulders of William, Kate, Charles and Camilla. It’s a huge amount of work. William and Kate have their patronages, there are military engagements, garden parties, the Commonwealth, investitures and regular engagements.’

A source close to Kate, however, says that she is ready. ‘It’s hard work,’ the source tells Grazia. ‘But Catherine thrives under pressure. She is organised to a fault, and loves to be busy. I honestly don’t think she’s ever been happier, and she’s really pleased to be taking charge. She’s had the vote of confidence from Charles, and she’s able to set her own path.’

For Kate, though, it’s not about squeezing in as many photo opportunities or handshakes as possible: it’s about truly effecting change. ‘She and the younger generation are embarking on their official life in a different fashion,’ says Victoria, whose father, Dickie Arbiter, was the Queen’s former press secretary. ‘The more senior members of the family have upwards of 500 organisations with which they’re involved. William and Kate are streamlining that focus: they’re concentrating on issues that matter. So when Kate is promoting her early childhood programme, she’s doing it from a place where she’s spoken to the experts and completely immersed herself in what needs to be done.’

A decision on their eventual return to Kensington Palace in London has, according to sources, not yet been made, but Grazia understands that they are likely to relocate in line with the reopening of Prince George and Princess Charlotte’s school, St Thomas’s.

Discussions concerning whether George will follow royal tradition by heading to boarding school when he turns eight next year are ongoing. ‘Kate and William will not send him away if they don’t think he would thrive,’ a friend says. ‘His happiness comes before tradition, they have always said that. So they’ll give it great thought as he approaches his seventh birthday this month.’

Until then, it’s business as usual for Kate – fast being positioned as the one who’ll help secure the monarchy’s future.

READ MORE: Kate Middleton Steps Out For First Public Appearance Since Lockdown Started

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