Princess Kate’s Image Overhaul is Reportedly Driven—At Least in Part—By Concern Over Her Upcoming Portrayal in “The Crown”

The changes—more pantsuits, more work than ever—are apparently very much on purpose.

Kate Middleton on a royal engagement
(Image credit: Getty Images)

From the extra public displays of affection with husband Prince William to her run of power suits to disclosing more about herself and her family than ever—royal aficionados are correct in thinking that Princess Kate is more accessible than they've ever known her to be.

Case in point? Thanks to a recent BBC Radio 1 interview, we now know what Kate’s favorite emojis are (“the heart with the crying emoji [and] the hysterical laughing [one] when things have gone wrong,” she said). In that same interview, per Us Weekly, Kate teased William about whose turn it was to cook dinner that night. Could you ever imagine, say, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip having this conversation on BBC Radio 1? No chance. And this openness is “strategic,” a source said. 

Kate Middleton Chelsea Boots

(Image credit: Yui Mok - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

“Kate feels the spotlight more than ever since the Queen’s passing,” they said. “She’s in a new phase of her life, and she wants her image and actions to reflect that. Kate used to portray the perfect, feminine wife, mother, and caregiver. Now she wants to be seen as a powerful and kind humanitarian leader.”

After Queen Elizabeth died on September 8, 2022, Kate’s image has been out front more than ever. Shortly after Her late Majesty’s passing, Us Weekly reports that Kate met with her advisors to discuss an image overhaul. “Kate spoke with her team and people she works with, including stylists,” they said, adding they wanted to focus on making Kate more relatable, and play up her ability to connect with people. “Kate’s been much more ‘boots on the ground.’” 

Prince William and Kate Middleton in Scotland

(Image credit: Getty Images)

And, as can be assumed, her style overhaul is all a part of the plan. At least for now, largely gone are the coat dresses in favor of pantsuits and more casual clothes. “Kate wants people to see her as a strong leader, someone who’s capable of taking the title of Queen into a new generation,” they said. “She’s been wearing pants, more casual shirts, and less high-priced clothing, and she’s ditching the long dresses and heels [in favor of] more accessible pieces.”

Kate Middleton Red Coat

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Interestingly, they add that her decisions have at least been partially motivated by the upcoming sixth and final season of Netflix’s The Crown, where the early days of her romance with William will play out onscreen. She believes the show will portray her as a “very privileged, lovesick young woman” and wants to get ahead of that narrative.

“Kate’s switching up her style in an effort to win people over, and also to get ahead of the beating she feels her image will take when The Crown’s new season debuts,” they said. 

Prince William and Kate Middleton in Scotland

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Working with patronages close to her heart is nothing new, but more than ever, Kate is leaning into that work. “Kate’s focus has always been charities that help children,” they said. “Even before becoming a mother, she was drawn to that.”

Speaking of becoming a mother, nothing matters more to her than her three kids Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis. She and William recently took a couple of weeks off to spend time with the kids as they were on their half-term break from Lambrook School, where they all attend. “Even on school days, helping the kids get ready in the morning and being there when they get back is the goal,” they said. “She wants to help with homework and play with them, though with her new schedule, there’s been a little less of that in recent months.”

Prince William and Kate Middleton at a royal engagement

(Image credit: Getty Images)

As for her marriage to William and how it plays out in the public eye, “William and Kate were told they can be more affectionate in public if the mood strikes them,” they said.

Though busier than ever, Kate is up for the job. Long gone are the days where she was terrified of public speaking; after giving her first public speech in 2012, The Guardian reported that Kate candidly told someone on hand “I find doing speeches nerve-wracking.” (Relatable.) Now, though, 12 years as a working royal have shaped her into a formidable woman and future queen. “The Queen set such a high standard, and Kate goes out to every event feeling that burden,” they said. “But she truly loves the work she does, so it’s a joyful kind of pressure.”

Now first in line to the throne, “After the Queen’s passing, Kate and William started [channeling] their grief from losing her into honoring her legacy,” they said. “They’re ready to blaze a new trail.”

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.