It's been a difficult few months for Prince William and Kate Middleton, but it's also been a period that's seen them go from respected and beloved senior royals to the future of the royal family. Following the resignation of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry as senior royals, and the necessary stepping back of the Queen, Prince Charles, and Camilla Parker-Bowles amid the coronavirus crisis that's swept the U.K. and much of the world, Kate and William have made a concerted effort to be the face of the royal family during a time of fear and uncertainty in the U.K.—and it's a template for how we can expect them to behave as king and queen (well, queen consort).
Part of the reason that we've seen and heard more from the Cambridges than any other senior royal family household (there are two others, now the Sussexes are formerly stepping down: The Queen and Prince Philip, and Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles) is that they're able to be more public-facing than the rest of the family right now. While the other two households were forced to self-isolate by mid-March—the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, and Camilla are all over the age of 70, which is considered a risk factor for coronavirus—the Cambridges were able to make a critical appearance at an emergency center in Croydon, England, on March 20 to show their support for first responders. Body language expert Alison Ward told The Express that it looked as though that William and Kate "feel much more comfortable in their heightened roles."
In addition to taking the lead for the monarchy during the coronavirus crisis, Kate and William are coming off an uncomfortable few months following the resignation of another royal household, the Sussexes—a pair they had been frequently compared to, even in spite of commentators pointing out that Kate and William have a very different role to play as future king and queen. Yet the departure (and apparent emigration) of Meghan, Harry, and Archie means that Kate and William are now at center stage as the future of the British royal family. (One royal commentator, Richard Fitzwilliams, noted: "Harry and Meghan's departure clears the way for William and Kate, who are devoted to their royal duties, to shine in the global spotlight.”)
This fact was echoed in William's address to the nation, in which he urged the British people to "come together" to "overcome the challenge" of COVID-19, a speech not unlike the one that he would have given if he were king. The Queen, meanwhile, is self-isolating in Windsor, but has not given any video speech, even though she's been expected to—perhaps a sign that she's allowing William, who is no longer sharing any duties with his brother, to take the mantle.
Honestly, watch this and tell me this isn't king-like:
That said, the Cambridges' effort to "keep calm and carry on"—they had been the only senior royals to make an appearance since March 12—were sidelined when a national U.K. lockdown was put in place on March 23. Yet the couple has continued to post frequently to Instagram with never-before-seen photos and videos, which is in stark contrast to the winding down of the Sussexes' popular Instagram account (which formally posted for the last time March 30). The Cambridges, meanwhile, posted a sweet and much-talked-about collage of photos for U.K. Mother's Day, including a candid look at Prince George's artwork; released a video of their three children applauding first responders in tandem with the nation; and shared candid photographs of their home office to make clear that they continue to be the face of the monarchy during this time. All made headlines, while Harry and Meghan continue to retreat from them (it's likely that we won't hear from them for months).
Several eagle-eyed fans have also noticed that Kate's style has evolved as she prepares to one day become Queen. These days, she utilizes a similar color palette to the Queen, and has increasingly been borrowing her grandmother-in-law's jewelry for show-stopping looks.
None of this, of course, means that Kate and William are likely to become king and queen any sooner than they have long expected; Prince Charles is next in line for the throne, and although there's been speculation that the the crown could "skip" him and go directly to William, that's actually very unlikely. What it does suggest, however, is that Kate and William, who have hinted that they've now completed their family, are becoming increasingly comfortable stepping into the leadership roles that they have long been certain are their destiny.
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