Margaret Atwood became the latest in a line of women to publicly call out Kate Middleton when Atwood claimed Kate is an “uneventful” dresser in a talk Atwood gave last month at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Unfortunately for everyone, Atwood invoked the name of the late Princess Diana to make her case against Kate.
Atwood said of Kate:
“I think she dresses quite uneventfully. I think she’s watching her back. I think she probably has people who pretty much tell her what is appropriate for her to wear. I don’t think she’s become the fashion plate that Diana was, and I think she’s probably doing that advisably, wouldn’t you say?”
The press is turning this into two battles: 1) Kate v Atwood; 2) Kate v Diana.
The Express even did an article quoting Kate fashion followers coming to her defense:
Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty Magazine, said: “You’re a bit limited if you’re a member of the Royal Family. You’ve got to dress as if you’re going to a wedding every day. I think Kate’s style is really classic and elegant. Diana did quirky things… but I don’t think she was a fashion plate.”
Susan Kelley of WhatKateWore said: “The biggest difference in Kate and Diana’s style is the women’s ages and personal histories when stepping onto the world style stage. Kate was much older when she married into the Royal Family, and that age difference gave her time to develop a personal style. Diana didn’t have this time to develop a style aesthetic… Diana’s youth when marrying Prince Charles allowed her to be influenced more by fashion trends of the time, as well as designers and some in the fashion press. Kate has been less influenced in this regard; she clearly knows what she is comfortable wearing, and what doesn’t work.”
Here’s the thing, I’m not so sure Atwood was even being that critical of Kate in the first place. Lets go through this:
1) Kate “dresses quite uneventfully” – True fact. Kate does not take fashion risks and doesn’t really follow fashion trends. Atwood does not say this is a negative; she’s just pointed out this true fact.
2) “I think she’s watching her back. I think she probably has people who pretty much tell her what is appropriate for her to wear.” – This is an opinion and we have no real way to know this, but I would say this is probably true. As with most things about Kate, she and her team play it as safe as possible to avoid causing controversy. Atwood does not say this is a negative; she’s just stating her opinion on something she perceives (which is most likely true – but, you know, that’s just my subjective opinion).
3) “I don’t think she’s become the fashion plate that Diana was” – True fact. Diana definitely played more into the fashion trends of the time she lived than Kate does currently.
4) “and I think she’s probably doing that advisably, wouldn’t you say?” – This could be taken two ways: A) Atwood is saying it is a good thing for Kate not to become a fashion plate as Diana did. I looked up the word “advisably” just to make sure and the definition is, “wisely, sensibly, or reasonably.” So inserting that definition into Atwood’s quote, she is saying, “and I think she’s probably doing that wisely/sensibly/reasonably, wouldn’t you say?” Which isn’t actually criticism. Or B) Atwood is saying Kate is not becoming a fashion plate on the advise of her team. Which, if that were the case, would be a true fact and not actually critical because there is no opinion given on that true fact.
Clearly others read Atwood’s comments as criticism, but I don’t see anything to get riled up about in her comments. I mean, the Kate/Diana comparison is more annoying than anything given how much people compare the two and how much Kate courts that comparison, but Atwood’s comments aren’t that negative. It’s more just pointing out the obvious, and then (depending on how you read it) stating that the difference is a positive.
I can’t even get that riled up about Atwood’s other comments: that she judges women on how they dress. The initial statement of “Atwood judges women on how they dress” peaked my interest as a feminist, because my initial thought was “women are more than how they dress”, etc. But after reading her comments explaining her thoughts, I can’t actually take offense to them.
On judging women based on their clothes, Atwood said:
“Let’s pretend you’re meeting a person for the first time, as you do when you meet a character in a book. What do I see? Your dress, I see your face of course, I focus on that. I see your earrings, I see your necklace, and those are all part of you. They are all part of the total image of who I’ve just met.”
I actually can’t object to this. It is true that one sees another person’s appearance as the first thing they see (and if one says otherwise, one is lying – unless one first met the other person over the phone or online). Also, how one dresses is usually very indicative of one’s personality. You can determine a lot about a person based on how they dress. And that’s not sexist, that’s just a fact, for both women and men. So… none of Atwood’s comments are really that worth getting riled up over and I think the press is trying to start drama where there is none.
Now, I’ll be honest with you, I don’t actually know who Margaret Atwood is. She’s an award-winning writer, apparently. And she is old, going off her picture in the DM article. That’s all I know. So her comments may have been critical and derogatory based on her past history, writing, and actions, but I have no knowledge of any of that. From my very limited experience and knowledge of Atwood, I don’t see anything super critical or even really negative about her comments about Kate. They are just kind of stating the obvious. And the obvious isn’t a bad thing. Again, the press is trying to start drama where there is none.
A quick comment on Kate v Diana: These two women have different styles. Why their style is different – Diana’s youth versus Kate’s maturity, or whatever – doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that they are different. One is not objectively better or worse than the other; they are just different, and everyone is free to subjectively prefer whichever style they happen to like best. However, Kate does sometimes Single White Female Diana in her fashion. So there’s that.
Some of the other criticism Kate has received over the last two years (if there is any I have forgotten, please let me know and I’ll add it to the list):
January 2013: Wendy Holden called Kate a “retrogressive” and “depressing”, saying: “What happened to having a fulfilling job and your own money? I can’t stand educated women who don’t work. We’re losing so much talent that way and it’s a pathetic role model for young girls.”
February 2013: Hilary Mantel described Kate as a “shop-window mannequin with no personality of her own” who seemed to be “designed by a committee… with a perfect plastic smile”.
March 2013: Sandi Toksvig criticized Kate for not holding a “single opinion” of her own.
May 2013: Joan Smith called Kate “unambitious, uncontroversial and bland” and the “Queen Wag”.
May 2014: Camilla Tominey wrote an article criticizing Kate for a lack of public personality (that many did not see as critical, instead seeing it as sugary, but I still think it was at least somewhat critical).
More Diana pics, because why not:
111 thoughts on “Kate Middleton pitted against Princess Diana, called an uneventful dresser by Margaret Atwood”
Thanks for such an interesting post KMR. By the way I think the header should read “uneventful” not “eventful”.
When I read this article I had a similar response as you did, there isn’t anything here that is particularly negative about Kate. We also need to remember that Diana was dressing for the era of the 80’s and her fashion choices were indicative of that time period. Which was, in my opinion, a particularly bad time for fashion, huge shoulder pads, oversized jewelry, huge hair, ugh I shudder just thinking about it.
In my opinion, Diana really hit her fashion stride after her divorce. By that time she was in her 30’s, was single and in great shape. Most of my favorite outfits of hers were from that time period, she seemed to be more confident in her fashion choices, plus the age of 80’s excess was over which allowed her to dress in a more classic, elegant style.
For the most part I agree that Kate does have an uneventful style, very much the classic Sloane Ranger look; discreet, non threatening, very much a style that one’s mother would also be comfortable wearing hence the wardrobe sharing between Kate and Carole. Also I feel that since having George Kate has struggled a bit with her style. She seems to be wavering between the yummy mummy look and the mature matron look but can’t decide which way to go.
Nice catch about the headline Lauri. Thank you.
I wrote a whole bit about how Diana’s fashion style was very much reflective of the time in which she lived – the 80s and 90s – and how I actually don’t really like her fashion sense that much. But then I cut it for some reason.
I actually prefer Kate’s style to Diana’s because I just prefer the more sleek, classic look as opposed to horrible 80s fashion trends. Though I liked Kate’s fashion sense more from before she had George. Since then she hasn’t had too many stand out looks.
All of this seems to be ignoring the sprayed on jeggings, the miniskirts, and the dresses that look like they were designed for 5 year olds. I do not see classic or sleek when I look at the majority of what Middleton wears.
You are so right.
for all those disasters and what seem like the lack of caring (i.e weights, longer skirts as HM ordered, etc.) as a RF member at that position – is disgraceful.
Diana had style for days. She understood the power of image and used it to her advantage, both for good and bad. IMHO, Kate dresses like an old woman or even what a young woman thinks how an old woman would dress like. Sophie is decades her senior and still manages to look younger. I will say that I do like the red wrap dress that she wore. My issue with Kate is more in line with Hilary, Sandi, Joan and Camilla. Kate is a blank. She has had a platform for over 10 years and she has done nothing. One would think that she had a running start to build on something but she hasn’t. Kate is basic, both on the fashion and personality and work ethic fronts.
I think the problem is that Kate shows no personality at all. Not through speeches, interviews, or even just talking to people while at her engagements. Not through the causes she chooses to support because she doesn’t really throw her weight behind anything or seem that interested when she is visiting a cause. Not even through her clothes; the one way she could show personalty without having to actually speak, and she chooses to go with the safer choices and boring accessories. Because of this lack of showing any sort of personality, there is nothing for the us to grab on to and she therefore just seems super boring and bland.
I think it’s interesting that they only thing people can ever say about her is “she’s nice”. That’s kind of an insult to me. It’s like saying, “You have absolutely no personality that I can mention, you aren’t even rude – which is at least that is some sort of personality, even though it’s negative – you’re just there. Nothing great, nothing negative, just there, just nice.”
I quite agree with you on this KMR. Over the years people have said many things about me but I don’t know if “nice” was one the words they used. lol
I feel that because Kate’s formative, young adult years were spent pursuing William and being at his beck and call, Kate missed so many opportunities to grow as a woman and as a human being. When Kate first came on the scene as William’s fiancee I thought she would be a good role model for young women but after 3 years of seeing her in action (or inaction) and reading a few books about her, I’ve come to realize that there would be no way that I would want my daughter, or any young woman, to emulate her.
I think it’s funny that everyone (not necessarily here, but elsewhere) keeps saying how modern Will and Kate are. They may be the youngest (adult) royal generation but that doesn’t make them modern. Kate is so very old school and traditional it’s scary. Everything she does is in service to her husband and she has no life or personality outside of being his wife (and her son’s mother). She may have a college education, but she did nothing with it and is perfectly happy being William’s inferior. Women worked so hard to be more than just the wife and mother, to have rights and personalities and be able to work outside the home (and we’re still fighting for our rights), and yet Kate is perfectly happy being so very regressive. Kate is in no way a modern woman and should not be any sort of role model for women of any age.
Here is a really good blog post that I found a few years ago after the royal wedding. It’s about how Kate sets women back 100 years.
I see the ‘old school’ from interfering ma carol middleton; all three seem to dress alike with ma carol. Even during the decade of waiting for Prince William – you see those pictures – from Polo matches to other aristo gathering – ma carol accompanies km and dressed similar; from causal wear – jeans to the first event the couple attended (after km months of separation living at Buckleberry) – carol wore similar black lace for that event ma and ma middleton accompany Prince William and km.
Rhiannon, agreed…Kate looks matronly and she is a blank.
KMR, Atwood is a brilliant, multi award-winning writer, along the lines of Hilary Mantel but in speculative fiction. Her amazing fictional version of evangelical Christians taking over the US government (Handmaid’s Tale) was written 30 years ago. She knew before the US did what was coming. The movie version with Natascha Richardson is quite good. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099731/
Quite agree. Margaret Atwood’s body of work is amazing. She’s has awards upon awards. She’s practically a shoo in for the booker prize every time she publishes a book. The Handmaiden’s tale still freaks me out no matter how often I read it, but i’ll also throw in the robber bride, the blind assasin and Alias Grace.
The Handmaid’s Tale is one of my all time favorite books. It was fabulous.
The Robber Bride is my favorite Atwood novel.
I’ll have to look up some of her work.
Yes, Ms. Atwood is brilliant!
I was pleased she did not shy away from the question – and is in tune with the times to note km lacking… as a RF member, representing HM.
I think Kate changed her clothing style after she had been criticized for her baby doll dresses and wardrobe malfunctions. Now she just dresses bland. Also, does the DM think she is fashionable because a couple of dresses she wore sold out?
I have no idea why the DM bothered mentioning the dresses selling out. It has nothing to do with anything.
Apparently having her dresses sell out shows what a style icon Kate is. Which is just laughable. I have never seen anyone wearing the same outfit as Kate
Exactly…. clothes sell out due to pass stock inventory ‘sell by’ and are on discount rack.
Haven’t there been articles about how a lot of what she wears is past season? She buys it, puts it in the closet, then wears it months or years later. Things “sell out” because they’re not making it anymore and mostly sold out already by the time she wears them.
Exactly. The “Kate Effect” is a myth helped along by the low stock of the pieces she wears due to the pieces being several seasons old by the time she wears them.
That makes sense. She wants to wear them before anyone else does/can. I do believe in the kate effect, I also think some women have gone over the top with it. I guess I don’t understand why you’d want your whole closet to look EXACTLY like the has beens or cheaper knockoffs of someone else. I get admiring a certain style and trying to emulate it. Talk about Kate SWFing Diana, all of these women are now doing the same of Kate.
“@RE_DailyMail: Just v. Different women IMO. @ArthurJEdwards once told me: Diana was a comet you had to cling onto as best you could. http://t.co/VNxKG14EqU”
I love the comment from Arthur Edwards. It’s a lovely way of describing the phenomenon that was Lady Di.
Diana just had “it.” Kate is a poor imitation.
It must be daunting coming after a legend like that, but it can be done.
Look at Jackie O and CBK – CBK had her own distinct, personal style and like Jackie’s style, it still looks timeless decades later.
Kate just doesn’t have the ability to reinvent herself or the style – She ends up copying Diana. Only without the flair, personality, work ethic, and genuine compassion.
I adored (still do) both Jackie O and CBK’s styles. As you pointed out, they were stylish AND charismatic so any simple thing like t-shirt and jeans still looked amazing on them.
Kate manages to always look like she’s raided somebody’s closet to play dress up, isn’t comfortable with the results and clearly didn’t pay attention to what would suit her best.
It’s nearly 5yrs since she officially stepped into the spotlight. A total of ten since she was outed as his girlfriend and she still doesn’t know what works.
At this rate, she won’t know for another ten years since it takes her that long to accomplish anything.
KM has NOT live up to the ‘ring’ (in fact, the ring overshadows and leave the expectation for more – service, duties). Prince William may need to purchase another ring…
If Prince William km divorce – is POW Di ring be returned to Prince Will * P Harry?
I too think the media is trying to create an argument. The real issue is that people in general don’t think much of KM because of her 10 yr pursuit, and seemingly no identity other than to be part of Middleton Corps. Having said that, I like Kate’s normally elegant look. What was great about Diana and is my criticism of Kate, and might be at the heart of Atwood’s criticism, is that Diana wasn’t trying to “fit in” like Kate is- trying to play a part of an aristocratic girl who belongs with a prince. This is foolish, because Sophie is doing a fantastic job and she wasn’t from a titled family. She’s a woman with her own identity, and that makes her interesting. Diana enjoyed wearing all types of fashion and looked amazingly good in everything. She wasn’t trying to fit in with the royal family. She was herself, and that’s why so many of us loved her. I can understand Kate wanting the gold ring, but I can’t support a girl-woman who still role-playing, and who’s primary use is selling clothes. That’s the disappointment, and maybe Harry and some of Will’s discerning group are seeing it.
Following fashion trends isn’t trying to “fit in”? I see what you’re saying, though. Kate is trying so hard to be as safe and uncontroversial as possible with her fashion choices and her causes as well. She/her team basically picked causes they knew no one would have a problem with – kids, mainly. Diana chose causes that were controversial because she wanted to support them.
It’s interesting that Susan Kelley’s defense of Kate was that Kate is older than Diana was when she was in the RF, and therefore Kate has more of a sense of self-identity than Diana did. But it seems to me that Diana did her own thing and had her own personality, whereas Kate does the safe play and doesn’t show any personality at all. So Diana seems to me to be the one to have a greater sense of self than Kate, even though Diana was younger than Kate was Diana was in the RF.
The author Wendy holden also described Kate as ‘a regressive figure’. Her comments didn’t receive as much media attention despite coming in January 2013. The full quote, from an article in the independent paper, where she was discussing literature and public figures is:
‘I think The Duchess of Cambridge is a regressive figure. Kate did a great job marrying up, but bagging a rich man is now seen as a serious career move which can’t be right. What happened to having a fulfilling job and your own money? I can’t stand educated women who don’t work. It’s a pathetic role model for young girls…..”
In case you don’t know, Wendy Holden has cornered the market in chick lit romcom novels. Her books are frequently bestsellers.
Thank you for adding the quote from Wendy Holden. I agree totally with what she has said. Kate has not lived up to the task of being a member of the royal family. Spending all that time chasing a ring means she has tried to mould herself into what she thought would get her prize but what does that leave her with? Does she even know who the real Kate Middleton is?
I don’t see km acting ‘safe’….no one with all that wealth shopping as much – as a member of HM /RF – who makes discount untailored purchases, wear spray-on fitting jeans/’jeggings’, short dresses, etc., and is on the world stage (unless you’re unbalanced, ignoring everyone/the world); km did state Prince William is the only opinion that matters to her… Maybe KM display as a regular attendee on millionaire yachts – make all her attire disasters o.k.
I didn’t know about Holden’s comments. I completely agree with her. Do you have a link?
Doolittle was out shopping… Again. Maternity leave rocks!
Is it realistic for a woman who is allegedly nine months pregnant to fit into a coat that she last wore when it only looked like she had a large lunch?
That is a maternity coat. Maybe she just didn’t close it, like with that black coat from 2012 she wore to one of her engagements?
Kate hardly ever walks around in a coat without it being zippered or buttoned all the way up to her chin. I doubt this coat is not zipped or buttoned.
She didn’t button the black coat she wore to the Home Start visit (she couldn’t because it was too small for her).
I didn’t say she never does, I said she hardly ever does. I saw that coat she wore to Home Start. It looked tight in the arms but it certainly didn’t look like she couldn’t button it if she chose to.
My bad, I read “Kate never walks…”, sorry about that.
She may also have purchased multiples in different sizes. That has been speculated before.
Is she wearing new boots? I don’t recognize them with the tall gold zipper. And good find on this photo Kip!!!
No her boots are not new. Waity has been photographed shopping and doing an engagement or two in them here and there throughout the years.
Stuart Weitzman Zipkin boots are their name 🙂 They are not sold by Weitzman anymore but they pop up on 5pm and other sites occasionally.
Imagine – that’s the Dec 2014 coat, to NYC – still fit? – Wow!
I’ve been checking out the single white female theory on Kate and Diana – and I’ve just come to the conclusion that British royal fashion is very boring. There is nothing creative or beautiful about the way Kate dresses. I think those buying the “look” are really just buying into the princess fantasy and not actually looking at the styles – it’s more like playing Disney Princess for adults – rather then a serious appreciation for design. What’s really odd is Kate has a degree in art – you’d think she’d be able to apply it to her public image and have a more interesting look.
I like some of the dresses and coats Kate wears – they are simple, but I like that. I think the problem is mainly with the styling and accessorizing. Kate never elevates her basic dresses and coats through fun styling and accessories.
I don’t know if I agree that all British royal fashion is boring, Sophie has worn some very interesting looks in the past. I’m glad that you pointed out Kate’s degree in art and how she should have a more interesting look, I didn’t even think of that. Even if she wanted to keep her clothing choices classic she could certainly add some interest with her accessories. I am thinking along the lines of Queen Max or Leti, basic dresses but great accessories.
Some artists study art history, but plenty of non-artists study the field as well. There’s a difference between having a degree in Art History and being an artist. We’ve seen her painting efforts on-duty and she clearly isn’t an artist. She studied the history of artists, but that does not mean she has the spirit, style, or creativity of an artist.
I thought about minoring in Art History in college, but then didn’t because there were a bunch of art classes as prerequisites and I’m not an artist. I still love learning about art history, though.
I personaly liked the way Kate dresses sometimes. A bit boring, but I like dresses.
She should hire a stylist, she needs a little pizazz. If Harry marries a more interesting chick (and we all know he will ) Kate will left in the shadows. People will forget she existed.
I like a number of Kate’s dresses and coats. I think she just needs to accessorize better. It’s the way she styles things that make her outfits so boring.
I seem to recall that some time after the wedding, Harry commented on how boring his brother and sister-in-law were, so maybe her clothing choices truly do reflect who she is….boring.
I agree Will and Kate are probably really boring people in general. That is reflected in the fact that Kate decorated KP in all beige.
What Atwood said isn’t terribly offensive. Call an uneventful person uneventful, and it’s a truth. Maybe impolite, but truthful.
As for Kate vs Diana, there are many differences that make comparing them lopsided and unfair. But where I grew to like Diana, especially after her divorce, I’ve grown to shrug off Kate. I had thought Kate’s wardrobe would be much more interesting than it actually is, but she’s safe with Sausage Curls in most of her appearances. Additionally, I’m used to just seeing her in gowns, cocktail wear, daytime dresses or maternity. And because her work life is so spotty, we’ve never seen Kate in a proper suit, hair up, or any outfit that reflects authority and being comfortable with it in her own skin. (With Diana, I remember her daywear from the frequency of her engagements.)
As of now, to compare Kate to Diana wardrobe-wise is to compare a girl play at work in her first suit to a woman who knew how to work her suits. Time will tell if Kate becomes more interesting.
I love the line…”…a girl play at work in her first suit to a woman who knew how to work her suits.” Brilliant.
Thanks Dag! I was able to sum her up with exactly that because she really has no identity except for Waity Katie. An engagement is where we see her dolly curls and try to look pretty (meanwhile choosing skirts that fly up- heavens). Girl can pick a cocktail shift to greet a visiting dignitary, but has yet to wear separates (or even trousers) and look credible in a suit.
On the other hand, among the things I readily remember Diana wearing were suits- pumps at a practical height, flattering hemlines that weren’t too short, smart colors and prints. Where Waity makes small talk, Diana showed up for business and made the time invaluable during her appearances.
I don’t even think it’s impolite. It’s just the truth.
I haven’t seen one thing that Kate’s worn that I thought looked great on her. She either dresses like a child, a old woman, or a flasher.
As for her hair, it’s either sausage curls, a ponytail, or sloppy. The sausage curls are not safe, they’re stupid. Big highly defined Sausage curls are for little girls. My problem with the ponytails is that she has a hair dresser and that’s all she employees the woman for. When she doesn’t have the hairdresser around there are plenty of times where it’s looked as though she didn’t wash or brush her hair. The extensions are highly noticeable.
I have no hope for Kate. I mean, really, I pat all of you who still have hope for her on the back lol. She’s already in her 30’s. Most women, and men, should already be hitting their stride. She hasn’t even hit a stroll.
I’ve liked a number of pieces Kate has worn – but they are all from 2011/2012, nothing recently has been truly a standout.
She wore some beautiful pieces in the year after she was married. Nothing quite so memorable since, with the exception of the Aussie tour, IMO.
I saw the article and have to agree that Kate doesn’t have Diana’s sense of fashion/style. I’m going to cut Diana some slack because she was dressing in 80’s style, but she did have a flair about her. Maybe it was her personality and just essence that flowed through. I think that even if Kate steps up her fashion game, she still will come off as bland. What personality she has/had has been subjugated so much I don’t know if she knows who she is any more. William and Carole don’t want her to talk back or outshine William. Carole is perfectly happy to keep Kate under her and William’s thumb. If she shows any spark it’s going to be knocked down rapidly. And that includes in the way she dresses. And it always amazes me that with the amount of shopping she does, she doesn’t try to up her fashion game. Just because it’s expensive it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily amazing.
As for the quote from the person at What Kate Wore…I’m sorry but Kate didn’t have an established style before she married into the family. She dressed like every other posh girl in William’s circle and I’m not overly impressed by that style. She more often than not was in jeans or short dresses/skirts. Nothing impressive whatsoever.
I’ve loved “The Handmaid’s Tale” since I first read it so it was interesting to me to read her opinions about Kate. I don’t think she was trying to be critical, she was just stating what she saw. Which quite honestly isn’t much. As this marriage and her career in the BRF progress, I am beginning to believe that she is just going to be the queen of bland and boring.
I agree that the Atwood quotes are a nontroversy.
“Just because it’s expensive it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily amazing.”
Yes. Kate for some reason hasn’t learned this.
Re the comment from Susan at What Kate Wore: I think she and all the other Kate super fans would make up any BS they needed to in order to defend Kate, even if it is so obviously BS.
In my opinion Kate is quite deliberate in NOT using clothes to garner attention. I think its a smart decision, based on her relationship to William. She is choosing to not overtly outshine him – Diana used clothes, the press etc to hurt Charles. And that’s not a criticism, I quite understand why she did it…and hey, we all loved her for it too.
That’s why, I think, Kate has made a conscious decision to not repeat behaviour from the past that added fire to an unhappy marriage. She sees herself first & foremost as Williams partner & is content to play second fiddle to whatever tune he plays.
She’s not as dumb as some folk think – she’s seem the past & makes choices so that her marriage, her future, are happier as a result.
She could so easily have way more attention/press coverage by choosing some kick arse fashion. She doesn’t for a reason.
Hi JL, very interesting post and it really got me thinking. I wonder if Kate, as she matures, will continue to be content playing second fiddle to William and whatever tune he plays? I wonder if someday she will wake up and say “hey, what about me, what about my ideas, my thoughts, my needs?”.
I have always wondered what is about Charles and William, that their women always seemed to take second place in their lives, that they needed to be a their beck and call. Sophie continued to work during her courtship with Edward and even after their wedding, she certainly had her own life and was did not come running when Edward snapped his fingers. While it is possible that Kate’s choices might make William happier, will they in the long run make her happy and at what cost to her own sense of self?
Great point – I hope Kate can negotiate that path, I really do. It is fact, though, that she can only ever be wife-of and mother-of the Monarch, so like it or not the role of Consort is always one step behind William and/or George.
Just like Prince Philip – he’s never tried to outshine HM. I get the feeling Kate will be happy with that similar role.
So true Prince Phillip didn’t try to outshine HM, however, he did accomplish a lot in his role as consort. For instance, the Duke Of Edinburgh Awards, the World Wildlife Fund. Also, he certainly wasn’t a shrinking violet, his tendency toward outspokenness is well documented. In my humble opinion, like him or not, while he always walked two steps behind HM, Prince Phillip made some great contributions.
Charles and William are insecure.
Hi Lauri (JL);
I don’t see km trying to play second fiddle – that may have been the original behaviour to trick Prince William, until she got a married; but Km and ma carol will not be behind Prince Will especially now there are children. Hence, trying to isolated P Will at AH, while carol become househelper.
Both Km carol rule Prince William (until he snap), but they do know they need him (as he is the Royal heir). In fact, the day Nelson Mandela passed and both P Will and km was at the premier of Mandela – upon news of his passing km was loudly telling P Will what to say on their progress towards the media. Close staff was looking listening and you could see Prince William seem bothered by Km verbal comments as if he was not able to think for himself on what to say to the media.
Similar disrespect towards Prince Charles and D/Camilla at Commonwealth Day Service – after the news of Prince Charles commenting that carol taking over Prince George – he could not see his grandson). Km now have PG and 2d baby so km carol middletons are becoming assertive (km moving to buckleberry a couple of times – separation add up. Prince William may have realize he is not getting the docile – behind the seen person he signed up for.
All’s well but carol km the middletons seem to forget, POW Prince Charles has not ascend the throne as King – to have P William – PG as heir. Long live our Queen!!
And to consider – at the time HM passes – if POW, P Charles is still alive), could decide to renounce his Line (to Prince Andrew, York – Princess Bea, heir or even Prince Edward who seem so regal and more like PP); and protect the Monarchy from the “middletonisation of Prince William” (and his children from senior Line).
Prince Charles was raised by staunch protectors of the Monarchy – grannie Queen QEl and G/gran Queen Mary (Kings George), the most recent of course his hardworking parents HM and DoE PP. He
Prince Charles behavior of of their time and even today, he is all about his ancestors – Royal Traditions Duties and the House of Windsor.
I see a deeply hurt Prince Charles in public (when he has been a loving father to both princes, mentoring their duties-the family history Traditions), and P William seem to be making a mockery and disrespect to his family/POW – and siding with KM /the Middletons in public greeting – where staff nearby is observing and smiling.
Diana and Charles were married for a very long time, about 14 years I believe. She didn’t start off deliberately trying to outshine him.
As for Kate’s clothing, if she didn’t want her clothing outshining William than why are her people now informing the royal reporters on what she’s wearing. She obviously wants it out there and being talked about. I don’t see why then, if she had any so-called “kick arse fashion” to put on, why she wouldn’t wear it. The fact is she was never a fashionista or style maven. Before she married William she dressed horribly and boring and now that they’re married she still dresses not as horrible but still boring.
I absolutely agree Diana didn’t start using fashion to garner press attention until later in her marriage – that’s my point, really, that she kept it quiet/low key when she was happy with Charles and only upped her game when she gave up kowtowing to him & started to strike out on her own.
The info about clothes is done by all female Royals as a matter of course, as part of the info pack the Press get about whatever function /charity they’re publicising. The only time its not is funerals & acts of worship where the Palace deliberately witholds fashion info out if respect.
If she wasn’t interested in fashion, she wouldn’t be wearing custom or customized McQueen, Wickstead, McCartney, Mouret, etc. She’d wear off the rack business suits like Melinda Gates if she wasn’t interested in clothes. Middleton spends the equivalent of a small house on clothing every year, that isn’t someone uninterested in making a splash with her clothing.
JL, I don’t see her past, marriage, or future as being happy.
She’s absolutely interested in fashion, I didn’t suggest otherwise.
I do think Kate is happy with William, but that’s just my opinion and I know not a popular one! She’s good for him, I think. She loosens him up. Just my opinion, though.
She does seem to be the only one who thinks he’s funny and witty 🙂
I don’t know how much she truly loosens him up. He seems to be happier when doing engagements alone – no clenching of the fists.
I agree. When she’s around he’s always tense.
KM use / want the RF wealth luxurious lifestyle and perks – nothing else. Now there is a 2d child, KM and ma carole know the children guarantees all the above for life – if not until they go off to boarding school.
I don’t sense Km continuing to give Prince Will the feeling of enjoying his wit, etc … Since Malta cancellation, separation – paps frames show quite the opposite and more lacking …in both (KM seem not to pretend – and is less under Prince Will spell; meanwhile P Will seem to not want to be ‘there’ with km).
I agree with you on this, except I think more media savvy “advisers” are also working hard to ensure that Kate doesn’t outshine William. If Kate were smarter she would work more to fend off the work shy criticism, but still be bland while doing so like she is now. Actually that seems like what she’s been trying a bit harder to do lately. The only part I’ve been trying to figure out is why would she be complicit in behavior that is so obviously starting to draw negative publicity? I think the Middletons are the missing link. They lack the savvy and resources to know how to behave now that their daughter is a member of the RF, but they have probably been influencing her decisions. They seem to think being royal is all about glamour and money and that Kate and the family should be living a WAG lifestyle. They probably are the ones who never learned about the real work involved and think it’s ok for Kate to live an entitled and work shy life, and they therefore have probably been giving her bad advice. I actually think it’s fine for Kate to be bland as long as she works. Her family should fade into the background and avoid having a public image. It’s one thing to start companies and write books, it’s quite another to bank on the RF image to make your work a success. Use a pen name, send someone else to press junkets – there are many ways to do what they’ve done without appearing to exploit the RF name.
I agree with you, Jennifer. I think the Middletons have no idea what it really takes to be a working royal, and have been giving Kate all sorts of bad advice. Carole pulls so many strings and because she has no idea how to work within the RF system, she is pulling Kate in the wrong direction. All of this, of course, with the help of William. He clearly never told them what it was really like to be a royal. He just used them to get away from his family.
Interesting topic. A great deal of thought went into this, KMR.
Starting with her wedding gown and going forward, I am not a fan of the way Kate dresses. Her style is too bland for me. Yet, it reflects her bland personality, doesn’t it?
Princess Diana was unique. She had true charisma. Nobody had to create that dazzle for her. The media is trying to create a razzle dazzle image for Kate and she just doesn’t have it. There’s nothing wrong with that, but to keep hyping her is ridiculous to me.
The styles of the 80s weren’t so great, but I think Diana rocked every outfit she wore. And, she did come into her own after her divorce and everything from her hair to her clothing was just spectacular. So, was her amazing way of embracing important causes with honesty and devotion. And her obvious love of her boys.
Today’s styles that Kate wears don’t excite my fashion sense at all. Sorry, I am not a huge fan of British designs, either. I am a fan of the Jackie look and the sleeveless sheaths that Michelle Obama used to favor. I don’t like prints — especially the big bold ones and that horrific mismatched look that is favored by so many women.
As for Kate not working I think it was a mistake on her part not to be working while “waiting” for William to pop the question. As a young mother of two, I have to admit that I consider raising children a full-time job and not every woman wants to do that, I know. If Kate wants to pass herself off as an old-fashioned mom who is there for her kids, then get rid of the Nanny and stop using your mom to do the work you want the public to think you relish.
Kate sends mixed messages. She’s interested in being an old-fashioned woman on some levels, but she doesn’t truly embrace the role that motherhood is.
Bottom line, Atwood wrote an interesting assessment of Kate vs. Diana. I don’t think anyone could fill Princess Diana’s amazing shoes, but I think it’s important to be true to oneself and not let anyone dictate how to dress or live your life. Of course, keeping one’s skirt from flying up and wearing underwear counts! So, I would follow that advice and nothing else, if I were in Kate’s shoes.
Margaret Atwood is 100x more interesting than Kate – no matter what you think of Atwood. I secretly hope that whenever I happen to be in Toronto, that I might bump into her. Which reminds me, I should add more of her books to my reading list!
KMR, I agree with your analysis of her comments about Kate. I wonder though, what brought up her comments? Was she asked about her style?
Her style is really bland and non-controversial. You can tell that she doesn’t want to rock the boat. I hope in her private life she actually has a personality. From everything that we’ve seen it’s just been very vanilla.
Mantel got a lot of heat about her comments, but re-reading them, she is spot on. “Kate seems to have been selected for her role of princess because she was irreproachable: as painfully thin as anyone could wish, without quirks, without oddities, without the risk of the emergence of character. She appears precision-made, machine-made, so different from Diana whose human awkwardness and emotional incontinence showed in her every gesture.”
I think that Kate’s fashion choices are mostly inoffensive but also rather bland – and she simply doesn’t know hoe to accessorize. I also hate her tendency to colour code an entire outfit, often in pastels or neutrals, so it simply turns into a wall of blandness.
What I find rather sad is that Kate’s public persona bland and incredibly dull – however, I think that’s what the BRF wants after all the scandals of the 90s. But it also makes them less endearing to the public since a public persona that is about as interesting as a piece of wet cardboard really don’t inspire people and this is where I think the BRF get it wrong – they need the British people to invest in them emotionally as unifying national figures but that investment is only really possible if some genuine personality shines through – Diana had that and so does Harry, which makes them much more endearing than someone who is too afraid to ever say something that isn’t just blandly polite. Kate’s public persona is something of a cipher as she rarely if ever shows the public any glimpse of a genuine personality. That means that people freely can project all sorts of different things onto her, whether it is extremely positive or extremely negative but I also think that she loses control of the narrative about her public persona and that can be dangerous in itself.
Two days ago I saw a very interesting documentary on Queen Margrethe who turns 75 this month. She was very honest about herself and her flaws (especially as a mother) in the interview and there was a lot of candid footage of her and her family together – like her sitting down with her grandchildren and opening presents, cooking with her son, working on her art, etc. I found this rather endearing since it certainly made her relatable on a human level even though she is the Head of State and lives in a Palace. A silent Stepford-like woman in nice clothes isn’t really that inspiring or endearing.
I completely agree and I can see where they might see a royal with a bland persona is more desirable than someone plagued with scandals. However, if there was ever a crisis where the question of maintaining the monarchy was called into question, if people are not emotionally invested in their royal family, then why would they keep them. If people see (for instance) Kate and Will as people who do little, have a bland personality, and have little connection to the public, why would the public want to keep them? People want to feel as though they know them! I agree that they are doing a disservice to the monarchy as a whole if they are encouraging Kate to be bland and vanilla.
Exactly. The BRF may *want* someone bland and boring, but they *need* someone who has a ton of charisma.
I don’t find bland appealing in a royal. I’d take Maxima or Letizia over Mathilde (I think she’s good in her role but dull as beige paint a lot of the time).
I want to say Atwood was asked about Kate, rather than bringing her up herself.
I love Mantel’s comments and still think she is absolutely correct in her assessment of Kate.
I don’t totally agree with the comments about Diana not trying to outshine Charles until later in the marriage – remember that black low cut evening dress she wore while engaged? I loved that dress. Kate hasn’t worn anything remotely as risque. And maybe Kate dresses matronly while at more formal appearances, but I personally find the tight jeans and leggings, the sausage curls and even her wedges of doom inappropriate for someone her age. I agree her choices are boring, particularly when she is totally in brown or in navy blue and it’s not an extremely somber occasion. I was not a huge Diana fan until after the divorce – although I feel very bad for her that she was plunged into that marriage and that family at such a young age (and I used to wonder had her mother been more involved in her life whether she would have stood up for her and whether that would have changed anything). But despite all her insecurity and unhappiness early in the marriage, on some level Diana had a confidence in who she was that Kate seems to lack. Diana had more interests (children and dance being the most notable) at 19 than I see in Kate who is so much older. Other than shopping, what really are Kate’s interests?
The first photo of this post shows her SWFing her mother-in-law’s black ruffled gown. Diana wore that as her last act of defiance against royal dress protocol – as a fiance not a wife.
In a conservative Muslim country this outfit is pretty risque. In Malaysia, both men and women are to keep their torso covered, sleeves for women should be to the elbow at a minimum.
This is tacky
Unfortunate. Anyone shaking her hand gets an eyeful
Slit is way too high
Different dress, slit too high
Flashing sideboob and bra to kids. When meeting kids, don’t wear a v-neck.
Exiting a car in a miniskirt
She does risque in her own way (short skirts, too deep of v-necks, thigh-high slits).
I maintain that Kate gets away with a lot because of her body shape. She was touted as the “anti-Kardashian” for a while during the early years but I really think that if she had a more voluptuous figure, she would not have gotten away with the things you posted or even her engagement and wedding dress.
Of for sure. She gets away with some stuff because she doesn’t have a large chest; if she did, she would be falling out of some things.
Exactly – although shameful comparison to a Royal. As some stated – Km ma carol and the middletons climbing family are the British Kardashions.
I’m from Malaysia, and we only keep the torso covered as well as arms covered while meeting Royalty or at functions where the Royalty is in attendance as well. Other than that, we are free to wear whatever we want. I, for one, go to work with skirts a few inches above the knee (the usual work clothes worn around the world) and attend evening gala dinners with the usual evening gowns/dresses. Having said that, we Malaysians were surprised when Kate turned up for the Royal dinner showing a bit of cleavage. When we attend dinners with the Royalty, we tend to gravitate towards using national costumes such as the elegant ‘baju kebaya’ or sarees or ‘baju kurung’ in any colour except yellow, as yellow is not to be used in the presence of Royalty. I guessed Kate is exempted as she was a visiting dignitary.
Why is yellow not to be used in the presence of royalty?
Yellow is the royal colour in Malaysia and is a symbol of the Malaysian royal family and the Malay rulers. No one is allowed to use yellow when in the presence of Royalty. It’s a mark of respect. If you are invited to a function with Royalty present, there is dress code that you should follow and one of it is to not wear yellow attire. The royal throne is also yellow. Even in our flag, the yellow of the star and crescent represents royalty.
That’s interesting. I had no idea yellow represented the royal family in Malaysia. Thanks for the info!
Thanks, Jess! That’s why I though that dress was so wrong. At the very least, people should follow dress etiquette at a formal event. And when you’re the visiting dignitary, it is even more important that you follow the rules of the country you are visiting, not force your own rules on your host country. The woman next to her seems to be in traditional dress, right? I probably would have avoided gold as too close to yellow.
My2pence, thanks for the links to fashion faux pas moments by the Duchess of Cambridge. Truly, she is an exhibitionist. After the last skirt incident in NZ, or was it Australia, though, someone spoke to her. Her skirts still fly upward, but not as much and some of her recent outfits have been decidedly conservative. Still, the essence of this woman is that of a flasher, What she does in the privacy of her own home is her biz, but when out in the public, she needs to show restraint and respect for her position and that of her husband and his family.
Agree – tight jeans sausage curls (Lady Louise-like), etc, very inappropriate for an adult worse a RF senior member. The control from BP CH they try to state is being dictated to Km is not…(are HM dislikes -orders for weights in longer skirts (instead of flashing heads of states dignitaries), quality tailored proper regal clothing for the wealth/position of the RF…. Advise ignored by the looks of photos, and someone who waited a decade to get in the family (and should have researched, study and practice the life traditions – service/duties of the RF.
Cheers My2Pence 🙂
Yes the woman next to her is in a traditional ‘baju kurung’ (except that the headscarf is only worn by practicing Muslim women in my country). Kate’s dress was in a way a nod to Malaysia as it had the hibiscus flower all over it, which is our national flower.
My2Pence, I was looking at the links you posted, and it seems that her style is so different now. It’s been a very matured style she has on lately. Maybe after becoming a mother she changed her dressing style?
I think those are half-and-half, some before the first baby arrived and some after.
Thank you for the information on the traditional dress! Again, that makes Middleton’s dress strange to me. The designer knew enough to put the national flower on it, but didn’t think to make the neckline 3 inches higher?
Jess and My2Pence, thanks for pointing out the faux pas in dress that Kate made on her evening with the Maylay rulers. I’m curious as to who goes through protocol with W&K prior to visits they make to other countries. Isn’t that something that should have been made perfectly clear to her (not to wear yellow and not to expose so much skin)? Or, did she just choose to go her own way?
It seems to me something is very wrong in the way PW and Kate are being “handled.” Such mistakes are so disrespectful. They show a lack of caring about other cultures, other religions. They are not something that anyone should do — particularly a member of the British Royal Family who is also the wife of the future King. In addition, I’ve read about many American First Ladies who not only rely on Protocol experts for advice when visiting abroad, but who also do their own research. Is that too much to ask of Kate and William? Guess so.
P.S. I am on pain meds this AM for a terrible tooth ache, so my thinking is rather fuzzy. Sorry.
Maryt Elizaabeth, you are stating good points! I have no proof, but i think are rebeling against what people aere telling them to do! billy has state in the past he does not like people” him what to do!” My impression is that for some unknown reason has been spoilt coddle to much & she has not work at all! lazy’s sibling have not been spoiled or coddle like that! The siblings obviuosly turned out different from waity. billy always want to be ” normal ” They both think that the sky is not the limit!
I do not they were ever discipline as Children! This just my humble opinion!
Halia, I think you are right. W&K are rebellious in their behavior. Much is expected of them and they so often fall short of those expectations . The public is tiring of their lazy ways and their inept appearances abroad on behalf of their country. They are not children anymore and should behave like responsible adults.
Kate is too young and beautiful to dress so old. She not only has her mothers influence, she has the Queen’s input as well. Both are elderly. I am Diana’s age and we share the same birth date and style of dress. For someone of my age I would not dress as Kate does. Di broke free of the Monarchy and chose her own style of dress an found power there as well. Kate must find herself as well and I don’t think it fair to compare her to Diana who had her own unique style and taste. Her seamstress should guide her better or be changed. Too much money is paid for dowdy look and she’s the future Queen of England and should start dressing and preparing for this role. If she’s going to pay high price for her attire she should look it. There is one thing that has and dose upset me on this subject where Kate is involved, I hate all the blow up skirts and the thong derriere visuals. It has happen too many times and I’ve grown sick of it! If she doesn’t want longer hemlines or weights in her hem lines, then wear a half slip! She doesn’t do that either. I began to wonder if she isn’t an exhibitionist subconsciously? If so not good from a mental perspective for a future Queen or for William. I don’t want to see anymore of that because it can be avoided. She needs to be taught how to dress nice and sophisticated, like offered in a College fashion course. Unfortunately she will not be able to learn this from her mother Carole. Too bad Di were not still here, this is one of many areas where she could have helped immensely. Kate needs to learn then teach Carole and Pippa.
Ah, yes, but had Diana not died so young and so tragically, I doubt William would have sought comfort in the Middleton fold.
Thank you Mary Elizabeth, i wish i was wrong! I would be more understanding when they work hard made mistakes & learned not to repeat the same mistakes over & over again.
Sorry you don’t know anything about how royalty works. The reason Kate does not dress as flamboyantly as Diana did is because the consort and lesser members of royalty are never supposed to upstage senior members of the royal family. Diana loved upstaging Charles and the Queen with her clothes and hair. Kate does not want to do that. Kate wants a harmoniums life and get along well with the royals.
Also I really hate how you are so insulting to women who want to be wives and mothers and not career women. Part of the reason society is going down hill is because nobody is raising their children.
Being a mother and actually raising your children instead of dumping them in day care for minimum wage workers raising them for you is a very very honorable career.
Stop degrading mothers and wives.
#1 – The queen is safe, people don’t find Kate as interesting or fabulous as Diana.
That’s not a dig, Diana was just the rare combination of charisma, beauty, glamour, royalty, who had a genuine human touch. She was the living icon of her day, which made her a media sensation.
Media wise. It’s lucrative to pose her as a flawless royal, on par with the queen. They get more hits from people, who agree and disagree.
It’s quite presumptuous to say she gets along with the royals. There is zero evidence of that.
It doesn’t look good when they choose to spend the entire Christmas holiday entertaining her family; rather than spending it with the elderly queen and royal family.
Kate has a full-time nanny. She can go shopping for a few hours, but is too busy being motherly to attend a few engagements a week?
She married into the wrong family, if she only wanted to be a mother and housewife.
Her schedule ends up being repetitive and boring. Kate got out of car, Kate smiled, Kate shook hands, Kate got in the car to go back to the palace.
The reporters must use the same story, just exchanging dates, locations, and outfit details.
For a 33yo woman who has been “royal” for four years, she is fairly lackluster and inexperienced.
No one here is degrading mothers or wives – people here try to be objective when it comes to Kate.
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