Kate Middleton’s Early Struggle with Royal Role Reminds Andrew Morton of Princess Diana

Both women, naturally shy, became superstars.

Kate Middleton
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Now 11 years into her role as the Duchess of Cambridge, few would argue that Kate Middleton has fully come into her own as a royal.

But, even after dating Prince William for nearly a decade before their 2011 marriage, Kate—as basically anyone would—found the uniqueness of royal life difficult to adjust to.

“Nowadays, the Duchess of Cambridge is well-known for her personable approach and dedication to her royal duties,” The Mirror reports. “But it is no secret that Kate has faced her challenges along the way as she struggled to carve out a role for herself in the early days following her wedding to Prince William in 2011. In the first years, there were questions asked about the small number of engagements she attended and whether she was working hard enough.”

Now, the outlet reports, she is considered one of the most indispensable members of the royal family. And, on a recent episode of “Pod Save the Queen,” Princess Diana’s biographer Andrew Morton praised Kate’s careful, well-thought-out approach—and said it reminded him of the late Princess of Wales, who died nearly a quarter-century ago in 1997.

“I realized after watching the royal family for all these years that it takes a long, long time to really understand what it is like to be royal,” Morton says. “Catherine Middleton has spent 10, 12 years coming to terms with it. So did Sophie Rhys-Jones (the Countess of Wessex), and she’s got a much lower profile—or did. It just takes a long time to absorb yourself into it.”

Morton remarks that both Kate and her late mother-in-law were shy, “so making speeches and being in public was something of an ordeal,” he says. “But I think she’s overcome that. She reminds me so much of Diana. She struggled for a few years to come to terms with what it is like to be a princess.”

Meghan Markle, Morton says, is more naturally inclined towards royal life, but she didn’t give herself long enough to adapt to the ups and downs of life as a working royal.

“The great tragedy, I think, is that Meghan and Harry didn’t give it long enough to see whether they could give it a go,” he says. “They were on the out almost before the wedding music had finished. Meghan is a natural…she had the great possibility of using her talent and her position to make a genuine change to the world. I don’t think she’s going to make such a change living in Montecito.”

It is unclear whether Meghan received the same type of advice as Kate, who The Mirror reports “was given huge amounts of guidance and support to ensure she was as confident as possible in her new role.” According to the documentary Kate Middleton: Working Class to Windsor, she was given private lessons that focused on how to be a royal wife, and, during these sessions, none other than Her Majesty helped her decide what her official royal title would be.

“From the beginning, Kate Middleton had a great deal of support from the royal family, which was really instructed by the Queen,” journalist Ashley Pearson says in the documentary. “There were things like learning how to get out of a carriage without exposing your modesty and learning how to bend down to get flowers from a young girl without exposing your modesty. There were all kinds of small details and little bits of etiquette—how to sit, who to curtsy to, who not to curtsy to, what fork to use, and whatever else they felt she needed to know. She was actually given lessons on how to be a royal wife.”

And, while the royal wife lessons may have long ended, Kate still feels support as she leans further into her royal role. In a recent visit to Wales, a woman told Kate that one day she will make a great Princess of Wales—the title Diana once held, and the one Kate will inherit upon father-in-law Prince Charles’ reign.

“That’s very kind of you,” Kate replies. “I’m in good hands,” she says, gesturing towards her husband William.

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.