In 2011, it was almost 30 years since Diana married Charles in a ceremony at St Paul’s Cathedral. Their marriage meant the future of the British Monarchy, and so naturally, the country paid attention to the young couple, seeing something in Diana that was not in the Firm at the time. The 29th April 2011 celebrated Kate Middleton’s marriage to Prince William and the crowds came out in droves to London to witness this event, reminded of the romance and beauty of the 1981 union.
Sixteen years after her death, Diana is still being discussed, being compared with the Duchess of Cambridge. It seems, particularly now there is a baby on the way, that the media are making more and more comparisons between William’s mother and his wife.
Diana Frances Spencer was born in July 1961. She was the shy, pretty, young aristocrat thrust into public life as the 19 year old fiancé to Prince Charles. Her untimely end in 1997 saw the young Princes William and Harry without their mother and the British people, and her admirers around the world mourning her loss. Catherine Elizabeth Middleton born in
Berkshire in January 1982, met Prince William at St Andrews University, Scotland. The Duchess of Cambridge is currently 7 months pregnant, just two years after the couple married.
Both couples’ love stories were in all the papers, detailing the ups and downs of both relationships, particularly the nasty divorce of Charles and Diana. Diana was hounded by photographers and became the most photographed woman in the world. Similarities can be drawn to Kate’s experience at university, being followed by photographers, eventually complaining of harassment. She earned the name ‘Waity Katie’ as the long-term girlfriend of William before they briefly split and reconciled in 2007.
Both the women’s fashion choices are scrutinised, their hair, their make-up and jewellery, and they will always be talked and written about (see, what am I doing?!), and their wedding dresses will go down as iconic pieces of Royal history.
That ring, a sapphire surrounded by diamonds, is perhaps the first solid link between Kate and Diana, when it was passed to Kate when William proposed in Africa. As William said in the interview following their engagement it is ‘his way of keeping [his] mother close’.
Although we do not yet have a Baby Cambridge, it seems Kate plans to be a very hands-on mother, without help for her new born. Diana broke with tradition and gave birth in a public hospital with both of her children at St Mary’s, although in a private wing under the supervision of the royal gynaecologist. It is unclear where Kate will give birth, but no doubt it will be low key.
But the similarities end there. At 29 at the time of their engagement, Kate was mature and had known William for roughly 10 years, and had already lived with him, in student accommodation. Diana, engaged at 19 had barely stepped out into the real world when she was thrust into royal life.
Kate was from a loving, tight-knit home, with ancestral links to the gentry; Diana’s parents divorced and she lived with her aristocrat father growing up.
Diana complained she was not supported in the transition into Royal life, but Kate has been eased in, a few engagements and patronages at a time, with a supportive hand in the form of Prince William. Kate’s personality is different to that of the late Princess of Wales;
she has taken everything in her stride. No doubt Prince Harry has been central in helping her along too, as can be seen by her close relationship with her brother-in-law. Many sources also claim that Charles, Camilla and the Queen and Prince Philip have all been key with supportive guidance for the Duchess.
Diana was pregnant just months after her wedding, but the Cambridges waited over a year before they fell pregnant (whether they had been planning a baby prior to this cannot be said).
Perhaps it is due to his relationship with the media, and also due to the Duke’s career, that the couple settled in a quiet farmhouse in Anglesey, away from prying eyes. The couple are down-to-earth, determined to do their own cooking and shopping, without a household of staff, a credit to the couple’s desire for a ‘normal’ life as much as possible.
One thing is certain though, William is fiercely protective of his wife in a way that we never saw from Charles and will be more so of his child, due this July.