Kate Middleton is Modeling Herself After Queen Elizabeth as She Nears the Throne

The two women share key characteristics that make them successful in royal life.

Queen Elizabeth and Kate Middleton
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Duchess of Cambridge will one day be Queen Consort—and, as the throne gets closer and closer with each passing day, she continually models herself after a role model for many across the U.K. and beyond: Queen Elizabeth, of whom PEOPLE says Kate “looks to the reigning matriarch for timeless wisdom—while putting her own modern spin on the role.”

Her Majesty has been on the throne for over 70 years, a record-breaking amount of time. Kate has formally been in the royal family for 11 years, and informally for much longer, and “Catherine has learned by observing,” says the Queen’s biographer Sally Bedell Smith, speaking to PEOPLE. “She knows what resonates. She will have absorbed a lot from this Queen.”

Though the outlet points out that the two women are 56 years apart by age, “the Queen and Kate share key qualifications for the job: quiet stoicism, unerring discretion, and firm loyalty,” PEOPLE writes. “Their opinions on contentious political issues are never heard, their commitment to the throne is unwavering, and their public images are tightly controlled. Kate also embodies the Queen’s unofficial motto for public life: ‘Never complain, never explain.’”

Though it’s unlikely Kate has received explicit lessons from Her Majesty, historian Sarah Gristwood says that the Queen may have approached her relationship with her granddaughter-in-law the way she does with prime ministers.

“The Queen has always preferred to do rather than say,” says Gristwood, author of Elizabeth: Queen and Crown. “With her audiences with her prime ministers, if there has been actual advice, it would be a discreet ‘I think that went rather well,’ rather than actual instruction.”

Kate has a willingness to adapt to royal life, even mirroring the Queen’s style, be it regularly wearing jewels on loan from Her Majesty or wearing bright colors on royal engagements, just as the Queen is famous for doing.

“It’s a personal willingness to conform to the requirements of the institution,” Gristwood says. “That sounds like an unappealing, unglamorous virtue, but it’s an important one if you’re going to be a successful cog in the royal wheel.”

Someday—hopefully in the far distant future—the Queen’s monumental reign will end. When that time comes, Her Majesty is confident in the job that both Kate and husband Prince William will do in representing the Crown going forward.

The couple “are representing the Queen impeccably,” Bedell Smith says. “They’re showing a kind of dedication she would be proud of. And that probably gives her hope.”

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.