“She’s Steel in a Velvet Glove”: Royal Expert Calls Princess Kate the Royal Family’s Greatest Asset

Kate’s use of soft power is earning her comparisons to the late Queen Mother.

Kate Middleton in red at Royal Ascot
(Image credit: Getty)

In her 12 years as a working member of the royal family, Princess Kate’s confidence has grown exponentially and she has learned to master the delicate art of soft power, a royal expert said. Next in line to be queen, Kate is one of the most popular—if not the most popular—working royal, and it’s because she is capable of “being strong and making her opinion count, but at the same time being charming and gentle,” The Mirror reports, comparing her to the beloved Queen Mother, who became the nation’s grandmother before her death in 2002 at 101 years old.

“People always used to describe the Queen Mother as ‘steel in a velvet glove,’” royal expert Jennie Bond told OK. “She was always charming, gentle, and much admired. But she was also the strength behind her husband, George VI, and at the Palace her opinion counted. I think Kate has some of those same qualities.” 

Kate Middleton looks to the side in a blue dress at polo

(Image credit: Getty)

Bond, a former BBC royal correspondent, said of Kate “she has learned the craft of being a royal over a number of years and earned her place as a senior member of the family. Gradually, she has also earned the respect of the public and, I believe, the rest of the family. We look at her now not just as William’s wife, but as our future Queen.”

Kate Middleton in mint green blazer at Wimbledon

(Image credit: Getty)

As was outlined in the updated version of Valentine Low’s book Courtiers, Kate was the force responsible for the inclusion of the “recollections may vary” line in the Palace statement in response to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey. Certain that “history will judge this statement,” a source told Low of the Princess of Wales “She does not get as much credit as she should because she is so subtle about it. She is playing the long game. She has always got her eye on, ‘This is my life and my historic path, and I am going to be the Queen one day.’”

Kate Middleton smiling and waving in a green dress

(Image credit: Getty)

Bond said she wasn’t surprised at Kate’s role in the Palace’s statement: “She knew that the family’s reputation was on the line and, along with William, she wasn’t prepared simply to stand by and let that reputation be trashed,” she said. “I think people will admire her for resisting the age-old strategy of ignoring criticism, however damaging it can be.”

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.