James Middleton is the youngest of the three Middleton siblings: The eldest is Kate, who we know today as the Princess of Wales; the middle child is Pippa; and James rounds out Michael and Carole Middleton’s close-knit bunch. James has been open in the past about his struggles with depression, and how his beloved dog, Ella—who died earlier this year of kidney failure at age 15—saved his life. In a moving essay for The Sunday Times following the death of the cocker spaniel, James revealed that both of his sisters attended therapy with him, and that his entire family united alongside him for Ella’s emotional burial.
“Everybody knew how much she [Ella] meant to me, and there was a day they feared the most: the day Ella was no longer in my life,” he wrote. “She meant something to all of them, too.”
He added, “My sisters came to some of my therapy sessions. They’ve always been there during difficult times, and they were at my side during the hardest of times, as well.”
Both sisters’ families have dogs that are descended from Ella. Kate (as if you weren’t aware) is married to Prince William, and they share three children. Pippa is married to James Matthews, and they too have three little ones.
“All the family came to say their goodbyes [to Ella],” James wrote. “I can’t speak for them, but I believe she influenced their lives too. Lupo, Catherine and William’s dog, was one of Ella’s puppies. My sister Pippa and her husband have a pup from Ella, as do other family members.”
Ella “was next to me through my darkest times, her head in my lap,” James continued. “Winston Churchill would complain that he was followed by the ‘black dog’ of depression. I had my own black dog, but she was my saving grace.”
Mental health has long been a priority of Kate’s royal work, People reports. In 2016, alongside William and brother-in-law Prince Harry, she launched Heads Together to end stigmas surrounding conversations and help for mental health. Her work tends to focus specifically on mental health initiatives for mothers and children, and, on a visit last month to the Open Door Charity in Birkenhead, Kate told the group “Talking therapies don’t work for some people—they’re not for everybody,” adding “it’s so important to have a range of therapies.”
Following their chat, Kate said “That was amazing. They’re so inspiring,” People reports.
Kate is part of a new way of doing business for the royals—for starters, she welcomes selfies, which used to be a royal no-no, and is relatable when interacting with the public: People reports that, during a recent visit to Leeds, a man fumbled with his phone as he prepared to take the picture, remarking “I’m sorry, I’m really nervous.” Kate’s heartwarming response? “Please don’t worry. It’s okay. We all get nervous” before smiling for the photo.
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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.
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