While acting as an ambassador for the 2012 London Olympics, Kate Middleton has contradicted some of the criticism which has befallen her in recent months. Some instances appear to be genuine steps forward for the Duchess, while others seem too convenient or blown out of proportion by the press.
Criticism: The £49,000 Necklace
Although her outfits have cost about £100,000 annually, Kate has been deemed “thrifty” by the press for wearing many of her clothes more than once (1). With that, it was no surprise that the media zeroed in on the unusually expensive £49,000 white, yellow and rose gold Cartier rings necklace she wore to the opening of the Road to 2012 exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery. It is not unusual for a high-ranking Royal to embellish herself with pricey jewelry, but due to her reputation, the extravagant piece jeopardized Kate’s frugal image.
Possible Redemption: The £35 Dress
With her outfit recycling habits, it appears Kate is conscious that she needs to appear economically sensitive – at least in between her splurges on bespoke Alexander McQueen and Emilia Wickstead get-ups. For quite some time, I have suspected that she recycles outfits to make up for her frequent fashion indulgences (and leisurely lifestyle, as if to convey, “Sure, I don’t work as much as I could, but I don’t spend as much as I could either.”). And last week, I felt her £35 Hobbs dress served the same purpose. In my opinion, it was probably not a coincidence that she selected such an inexpensive dress – possibly the least expensive one she’s worn since becoming engaged – right after her extravagant jewelry took center stage and chipped away at her “thrifty” image. Whatever the case, I think it is great whenever she opts for affordable fashion and re-wears her pieces. Of course, her practices do not make the media’s incessant worship over the latter and claims that Kate “thrifty” any less than absurd.
Criticism: The honeymoon phase is over
Throughout the past several months, William and Kate seemed increasingly distant, giving the impression that their “honeymoon phase” had ended. Most noticeably, he appeared to ignore or look annoyed by her during many of their public appearances (as discussed in Royally Snubbed Part I). Additionally, Kate was caught seemingly flirting with Prince Harry as she and William ignored each other during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Needless to say, the behavior did not inspire confidence in the royal couple’s happiness together. Soon after, a report stated the pair hadn’t had sex in months (2). Another claimed William’s late night partying in London without Kate revealed he regretted being chained to her for so many years, and hence, missing the chance to have relationships -and naughty fun – with other women (3). Whether or not those stories were true, the rigorously peddled fairy tale love story was challenged from multiple angles. When the couple attended Wimbledon together last month, the apparent trouble in paradise was noted yet again, as the royal couple gave the impression they were disinterested in each other’s company.
Possible Redemption: William and Kate hug at the Olympics
When Team GB won the gold medal in track cycling this week, William and Kate cheered with the crowd and shared a celebratory hug. As photos of the ecstatic couple in a mutual-looking embrace spread, the brief PDA swiftly became the subject of headlines all over the web. However, in my opinion, the hug has been subtly twisted and exaggerated by several sources to seem more romantic and affectionate than it actually was. Also, photos can be misleading. View a video of the hug to keep in mind here (thanks to Rose for the video link).
For instance, Radar Online posted this:
Prince William isn’t winning any gold medals at the Olympics but he did win a huge hug from his beautiful wife Kate Middleton and RadarOnline.com has the photos of their affectionate embrace…
The public display of affection was a rare glimpse into the love the newlyweds have for each other, and they both had huge smiles as they celebrated the gold medal win,” (4).
A “huge hug”? It looked rather brief to me. An “affectionate embrace”? A “rare glimpse into the love the newlyweds have for each other”? William grabbed onto the side of Kate, who was mid-cheer with her arms in the air and did not even turn toward and acknowledge him. Clearly excited, she just kept cheering! Of course, she did put her arms around him in return, but it would have been extremely awkward if she’d kept her arms straight up in the air through it all. -My point is, it looked more like a reflex than the reciprocation of a loving gesture. They were obviously having a great time and William gave Kate a friendly, enthusiastic hug in celebration of the win – that is all. It was fine as it was. The suggestion that it was a touching and romantic demonstration of their love was an unnecessary stretch of the obvious.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were so overcome with joy as they watched the Scotsman lead the men’s spring cycling team to a gold medal, that they hugged and kissed each other in front of the world’s media, who snapped furiously at the rare sight.
Normally the Royals maintain a stiff upper lip in public, showing little emotion. But Kate and Wills have become known for their fresh, youthful attitude, injecting a new lease of life into the monarchy,” (5).
Obviously, William and Kate did not kiss each other. In reality, the pair never even faced one other in the moment. I don’t know whether this mistake was honest, but it seems awfully convenient that the error reinforces the media’s constant (and often unsupported) speculation that they are madly in love. Also, I cannot imagine that an inaccurate account of one of their rare PDAs would make it to print if the pair were mistakenly portrayed as less affectionate than they actually were.
In the second paragraph, STV should have ended it after the first sentence. In my opinion, William and Kate are not exceptions to the inexpressive tradition: It was just headline news that they hugged because their show of affection in public is so extremely rare! Even publications that champion them acknowledged the infrequency of their PDAs.
On a final note, it seems it is Harry and Kate, not William and Kate, who are showing the world their chemistry and affection. I am not at all suggesting their could be a forbidden romance between them. However, based on photos from the Olympics, it appears Kate is still
uncomfortably very fond of Harry.
Criticism: The prediction that Kate and her outfits would steal the show at the 2012 London Olympics
Kate is the center of attention at nearly every event she attends, and the attention is added to whenever she debuts a flashy new fashion ensemble. While she re-wears clothes from time to time, in the past she has typically had high fashion garments custom-made for special events. She clearly likes to buy new clothes, dress up, look her best, and be noticed and praised for what she wears, so it seemed logical that she would strut around in a variety of showy new couture pieces during the Olympics. It would have been unfortunate and disrespectful to run such a distraction though, as the true stars of the games are the athletes.
Possible Redemption: A (mostly) low-key wardrobe
With only one custom piece so far, Kate has been keeping a surprisingly low fashion profile since her Olympic duties began. First, she has “recycled” a couple of pieces, including the blue Stella McCartney dress (July 19 and August 2) and navy Smythe blazer (One year ago in Canada, July 30 & 31 and August 2). Second, she has sported casual polo tees, jackets, and athletic shoes in patriotic Team GB colors multiple times. Primarily, her clothes have been blue and white with the only loud, busy exception being the bright red Zara blazer and polka dot top she wore on day seven. -Even that was an improvement since whenever she wears red, it usually makes up her entire outfit. Now if only she could pry herself away from those hideously unflattering skinny jeans… For a look at everything Kate has worn to the Olympics, visit What Kate Wore.
Criticism: The prediction that the Middleton family would have VIP seats at Olympic events.
In recent months, Michael, Carole, Pippa and James Middleton have relied on their royal connection to acquire preferential access to special events. Namely, they each sat in the royal box at Wimbledon, all cruised down the Themes in the Diamond Jubilee river pageant, and Michael and Carole joined the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in the royal box and carriage procession at Royal Ascot. As the Middletons are members of the general public, their inclusion in these events was received as unfitting, awkward, and intrusive by some of their peers. With the family’s persistent pace toward a royal-like lifestyle, it seemed inevitable that the trend would continue during the Olympics. After scoring special seating at Wimbledon and Royal Ascot, why wouldn’t they sit alongside William and Kate in the VIP sections at the Games?
By inviting the Middletons into their social circle, treating them like peers, and granting them special privileges, the Royals seemed to be granting the reputed social climbers a free pass into high society. But there are greater problems with their inclusion than the fostering of their apparent social ambitions. First, William married Kate - not her family. The status and peerage title Kate acquired through marriage does not entitle her parents and siblings – who will never have royal duties – to comparable social raises or any perks that might accompany them. Second, the more the Middletons associate with the Royals, the more potentially advantageous their royal connection becomes for their business ventures. Any time the family is seen out with the Royals, the press reports it, publishes their photos, and often references their sources of income. It all promotes them – the Middleton brand - and hence, promotes their party supply business, Pippa’s upcoming book, and James’ cake business. It is a possible abuse of their royal affiliation for the Middletons to purposefully share in the Royals’ publicity.
To avoid strengthening ties with a family that is not popular with the public and any potential exploitation, the Royals should only invite the Middleton family to events which specifically center on William or Kate. -And that does not include the Olympics. As the Middletons are members of the general public whose presence is not required at the games, it is only fitting that they procure their own means of access if they wish to be there.
Possible Redemption: Where oh where have the Middletons gone?
The Middleton family has yet to be spotted in VIP seating at the London Olympic Games – or in attendance at all! The reason behind their surprising absence remains a mystery.
There is a chance the Middletons were invited to the Olympics but turned down the opportunity. However, I highly suspect they would have happily attended if they had been. Based on their recent history, they appear to embrace their fame, relish special access to grand, royal-related events, and be excited to publicly support Kate in her new royal role.
The more likely and attractive possibility is that the Royals denied the Middleton family VIP tickets to the games. If that is the case, it would suggest the Royals have finally gotten the message that overall, the public does not wish to embrace the Middletons as part of the extended Royal Family. I certainly hope that is the true reason. It would be about time!
(1) Jones, Liz. “£105,000, the TRUE bill for Kate’s clothes: But she’s worth every penny, says LIZ JONES.” Daily Mail. 6/26/2012.
(2) Star Magazine via Cele|bitchy: Kaiser. “Duchess Kate allegedly stopped having sex with William months ago.” Cele|bitchy. 7/11/2012.
(3) Star Magazine via Cele|bitchy: Kaiser. “Star: Prince William ‘regrets missing out on so much because he was tied to Kate.’” Cele|bitchy. 7/13/2012.
(4) Tereszcuk, Alexis. “Right Royal PDA! Kate Middleton Gives Prince William An Olympic Sized Hug.” Radar Online. 8/2/2012.
(5) “Kiss me Kate! Duchess Catherine and Prince William’s Olympic joy.” STV. 8/3/2012.