Kate Middleton’s daunting task of following Diana as Princess of Wales

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Kate Middleton’s daunting task of following Diana as Princess of Wales

London: As the new Princess of Wales, Prince William’s wife Catherine inevitably draws comparisons to her superstar predecessor, William’s late mother Diana, whose legacy continues to shape Britain’s view of his royal family.

Outside Kensington Palace in London, where Diana continued to live after the divorce from the new King Charles III in 1992, members of the public expressed their views on the task Kate faced.

“Diana will never be forgotten. But I’m sure she will carry on the legacy. And she will be a beautiful tribute to Diana,” said Keith Lowing, 73.

The retiree and his wife Kathleen sat on a bench in the palace gardens, where Diana and King Charles’ sons, William and Harry, unveiled a statue of the late princess only last year.

The death of Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday saw Britain enter a new era, after 70 years on the throne.

But King Charles’ accession also heralded another symbolic change: the first Princess of Wales since Diana’s death 25 years ago.

Before Diana, the previous Princess of Wales was Mary of Teck, from 1901 to 1910, when her husband became King George V.

– Helping people in the margins –

The title of Prince of Wales is conferred by monarchs on their eldest living son.

Charles was made Prince of Wales in 1958 at the age of nine and gave the title to 40-year-old William on his first full day as king.

The wife of the Prince of Wales becomes the Princess of Wales.

“Our new Prince and Princess of Wales will, I know, continue to inspire and guide our national conversations, helping to bring the marginalized to the center where vital assistance can be given,” King Charles said on Friday.

Charles’ second wife Camilla had the right to use the Princess of Wales style after their marriage in 2005.

But she chose not to because the title was so strongly associated with Diana, who Camilla had publicly blamed for being the third person in her marriage to Charles.

Camilla used her husband’s secondary title and became the Duchess of Cornwall.

“The Diana comparison problem will not arise because Kate Camilla is not – and because things have moved on,” royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told The Guardian newspaper.

– High standard to match –

That said, Diana remains a respected figure in Britain and around the world.

Her tragic death at the age of 36 in a car accident in Paris on August 31, 1997 left her frozen in time and an almost sacred figure to many.

“Diana was a very important princess and was much loved by the public. She doesn’t represent the crown so much as the people,” Maria Aragon, a 21-year-old Spanish tourist, told AFP outside Kensington Palace.

Not far from the new Diana statue, Rebecca Brunswig, a 74-year-old American tourist, recalled her “many humanitarian visits,” her dedication to AIDS patients, and her “wonderful compassion for the less fortunate.”

Even before Catherine married William in 2011, questions arose about whether she could ever measure up to Diana, whose engagement ring she wears.

Since joining the royal family, Kate has behaved with poise and projected a happy family image, choosing her charitable activities carefully while raising Princes George and Louis and Princess Charlotte.

Fitzwilliams said: “Kate is increasingly hands-on and has shown a particular interest in early development development, so I imagine she would like her legacy to show that she’s made a difference in that area.”

But a palace source tried to temper the comparisons to Diana.

“The new Princess of Wales appreciates the history that comes with this role,” the source told reporters.

“But she will understandably want to look to the future as she creates her own path.”

Outside Kensington Palace, lawyer Selma White, 40, said: “She is very elegant, beautiful. And she represents the monarchy very well.

“I love Diana, I love Kate too, but I don’t think you can compare them, and people shouldn’t. They’re going to have to give Kate the chance to be Kate.”

– Popularity –

A YouGov poll earlier this year placed Kate as the most popular member of the royal family — with an approval rating of 68 percent — after Queen Elizabeth, at 75 percent.

Experts believe she can now anchor the popularity of the British royal family, as Diana once did.

“The focus is now clearly on William, Catherine — Prince and Princess of Wales — working alongside our new King and Queen consort,” royal historian Ed Owens told Channel 4 television.

Robert Hazell, a constitutional expert at University College London, said Kate would privately be a good sounding board for William in the “lonely” position of Prince of Wales and heir to the throne.

In public, “the younger royals help maintain the royal family’s popularity among young people,” he added.



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