The usually always stoic Queen was “uncharacteristically overjoyed” on April 29, 2011—the wedding day of Prince William and Kate Middleton. The day was, of course, meant to celebrate the couple, but also the future of the monarchy, which Her Majesty holds so dear.
“She was even more emotional than expected,” PEOPLE reports. Courtiers said of that day “the monarch was uncharacteristically overjoyed on the couple’s wedding day, content in the knowledge that the line of succession—so fraught in the years following the checkered marriages of three of her own children—was secure.”
Perhaps she saw in William and Kate a marriage, like her own, that was built to last. Ultimately, the Queen and her late husband, Prince Philip, were married for over 73 years before his death in April 2021. Of their four children, only their youngest, Prince Edward, has never divorced—he and wife Sophie have been married 23 years this summer.
Before marrying, William and Kate’s courtship spanned nearly a decade, quite a difference from William’s own parents, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, who had met only a handful of times before announcing their engagement in February 1981. William and Kate, on the contrary, took their time, and seemed very intentional about their decision to spend the rest of their lives together.
And PEOPLE reports, “there was undoubtedly much that the Queen saw in Kate that day—and in the years that have followed—that remind her of herself. Although they are separated in age by 56 years, the Queen and Kate share key qualifications for the job: quiet stoicism, unerring discretion, and firm loyalty. Their opinions on contentious political issues are never heard, their commitment to the throne is unwavering, and their public images are tightly controlled.” The Queen has helped Kate grow deeper into her role as a future queen consort, as “hearing from the Queen that you’re doing a really good job, along with getting support from your husband, you grow in confidence,” a close royal insider told PEOPLE of Kate.
Kate has said she’s “in good hands” with William; Her Majesty, too, found a strong partner in her husband, once calling Philip her “strength and stay.”
Before her 2011 wedding, Kate “had tea with ladies-in-waiting and briefings from private secretaries. People wanted it to work,” a royal insider told the outlet. “And everyone has been rewarded with [the couple’s] efforts.”
Even to present day, Kate looks upon her grandmother-in-law as a role model.
“Catherine has learned by observing,” the Queen’s biographer Sally Bedell Smith said. “She knows what resonates. She will have absorbed a lot from this Queen.”
A Queen who, rightfully so, was extra happy on the day she knew the monarchy was secure for a long time.
Rachel Burchfield is a writer whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family. In addition to serving as the royal editor at Marie Claire, she has worked with publications like Vogue, Vanity Fair, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, and more. She cohosts Podcast Royal, a show that provides candid commentary on the biggest royal family headlines and offers segments on fashion, beauty, health and wellness, and lifestyle.
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