The death of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh is a fitting time to assess the future of the British Royal Family. Her Majesty The Queen will dutifully perform her role as monarch until her death. Before her coronation in 1952, The Queen said as much to the nation while on a tour of South Africa in 1947 before her accession to the throne. On the occasion of her 21st birthday, the then Princess Elizabeth said in her address to the Commonwealth:
"I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”
There is however some speculation as to what will happen to the British monarchy once The Queen dies. It is generally accepted that the monarchy will have to adapt and adapt fast to the rapidly changing times in which we live. Opinion may vary though on how best to do that. It is therefore comforting that there is at least one person in whose hands the future of the British Royal Family will be safe. That person is The Duchess of Cambridge.
Born Catherine Middleton. Kate was raised in a loving middle-class family, the eldest of three children. Her sound upbringing is down, in no small part, to the fact that her parents Michael and Carole Middleton are still together. University followed for the young Kate. She enrolled at the prestigious St Andrews University. It is here where she met Prince William. At St Andrews, Kate had a beneficial influence on the Prince, persuading him to change his course of study, rather than drop out of university altogether. A romance developed between the two and the rest is history.
It was clear then that Kate had the qualities needed to fit in well into the British Royal Family. She was, above all, discrete, proof of which can be seen in her choice not to dish the dirt publicly on Prince William when the couple split briefly in April 2007. However, it was on her wedding day that Kate really came into her own, giving the UK a glimpse of what we all had to look forward to. On 29 April 2011, Kate Middleton married Prince William, dressed in a wedding gown, reminiscent of the one Grace Kelly wore when she married Prince Rainier of Monaco. Kate epitomised poise and elegance, drawing some commentators to make the comparison between her and the screen icon.
On her marriage to Prince William, Kate took on the title of Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge. A life of duty has followed.
The Duchess has been at the forefront of the campaign to recognise mental health as an issue of universal importance. She has also expressed a keen interest in the early years of a child's development and how experiences under-fives have, can affect them in adulthood. The Duchess of Cambridge was the instigator of the Royal Foundation's 5 Big Questions survey on under-fives in January 2020, which has reportedly had the largest-ever response from the public to research on early childhood. Further, this study is impressive as scientific analysis backs up the claim that the first five years of a child's life is the single most important period for that person's development.
More recently, The Duchess of Cambridge has been playing the role of mediator to repair the rift that was developing between her husband The Duke of Cambridge and her brother-in-law The Duke of Sussex after his and The Duchess of Sussex's explosive TV interview with Oprah Winfrey earlier this year.
The Duchess of Cambridge has been described as the "family peacemaker” by her husband. The Duchess of Cambridge also showed her empathy by diplomatically moving aside immediately after The Duke of Edinburgh's funeral to allow The Duke of Cambridge and The Duke of Sussex time and space to talk to each other alone on their walk back to Windsor Castle.
Whether The Duchess of Cambridge is attending a State dinner in a gown or a rodeo in a cowboy hat and cowboy boots, she appears comfortable in any setting.
When the time comes for The Duke of Cambridge to become King of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, The Duchess of Cambridge will play a pivotal role in the British monarchy, rather akin to the one Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother played as reassuring influence on King George VI. Like Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, The Duchess of Cambridge will be the power behind the throne with her calming presence. The irony of this is that it is a commoner, whose conduct is regal. The Duchess of Cambridge's discretion and loyalty are in stark contrast to the actions of some members of her family, who were actually born royal and whose behaviour leaves a lot to be desired.
Long live the future Queen Catherine!