Britain last had a Princess of Wales in 1997 – then it was Diana, ex-wife of the current King Charles III and mother of the heirs to the throne. Her incredible charisma, as well as her tragic and early death, left a deep mark on both the nation and Princes William and Harry.
Now, however, another woman will bear that title – Catherine, William’s wife. Formally, the title also belonged to the current Queen Consort, Camilla, but out of respect for Diana, Camilla did not use it publicly. She was better known as the Duchess of Cornwall.
So the question invariably comes: how will Catherine fulfill the role that Diana charmed the whole world with?
She already commented that she “appreciates the history of this position”.
In 2010, when announcing her engagement to William, Catherine called her husband’s mother “an inspirational woman worthy of an example”. “There’s no pressure because, as Kate says, we make our own way. No one is trying to replace my mum. She’s done a fantastic job. It’s about building our own future and destiny and Kate will do a great job at that.” , Prince William commented at the time.
Although both are sisters-in-law in the royal family, Catherine and Diana’s life paths are quite different. Diana married Prince Charles, a decade her senior, at the age of twenty. Their unhappy marriage, her immense popularity and her refusal to conform to the strict rules of the institution, and her death at just 36 made her a legendary figure and forced the royal family to change.
Catherine married William at 29, after nearly ten years of courtship and serious preparation and support from the palace. At 40, the mother of three heirs to the throne, she has built up a network of charitable initiatives, strongly focused on early childhood development, mental health, art and sports.
Although in their early years as a married couple she and William did not take on as many commitments as other working royals, they are both very committed to their causes.
“Kate is increasingly active,” commented commentator Richard Fitzwilliam for the Guardian. “I don’t think there are any problematic comparisons with Diana because Kate is not Camilla and because things have changed.”