Reportedly, Kate Middleton is delving into her charity work while Prince William is away on a six week RAF assignment in the Faulklands (1; 3). According to a St. James Palace spokesperson (via the Mirror), she paid a private visit to an Action on Addiction treatment center in Wiltshire on February 2 (1). As per last month’s long-awaited announcement, the charity is one of four the Duchess will serve as a patron. It has also been announced that she will preview an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery on February 8, visit a dry bar for recovering alcoholics on Valentine’s Day, and later attend the opening of a new apartment at the Ronald McDonald House at Adler Hey Children’s Hospital (3). While it’s absolutely great that Kate is (finally) making efforts toward involvement with the charities, her positive acts are typically coupled with disappointing behavior or suspicious circumstances – and this is no exception.
The Ship that Should have Sailed
The Palace spokesperson divulged that the Action on Addiction visit was “…one of a number of ongoing private visits to her charities” (1), and that the purpose of them is for Kate to “[get] to know more about what the charities do and meet the staff and those they help” (1). While that would sound like an excellent plan and productive first step in her patronages, this continual research phase makes last year’s reports appear false. In September 2011, it was reported that Kate had been independently researching different charities to choose which she would like to patron (2). The Palace claimed that private charity visits were part of the process at that time too (2). If she needs to meet with members of her selected charities to learn about them in much greater depth, then more power to her. But if she’s just now learning what each charity does specifically and is only now meeting the staffs and recipients (2), then pardon me, but what the heck was she doing for all of last year?! (Not to mention, for the entire month of January!). Were the reports of last year’s “secret” visits nothing but lies? It’s not an unrealistic standard to expect that, with the excessive time it took for Kate to decide upon charity commitments, familiarizing herself with them should have been done thoroughly, and long ago. That ship should have sailed, but as the recent report suggests, it may still be at its port.
If Kate really is just getting to know the charities, why would she commit to them before her research was complete? Was her research time cut short, and is there a pressing reason why she needs to begin charity work now? Well, maybe!
Not only do this month’s charity visits coincide with William’s trip to the Faulklands, but they have been announced just after the highly controversial holiday the work-shy Duchess took to Mustique in the Caribbean. It’s no secret that the public was less-than-amused that she put play before work, the latter of which we have yet to see her do consistently (or at all, depending on how it’s defined and what you believe). Apparently, some were downright outraged at the news of Will and Kate – whose royal engagements have largely included a string of lavish events and pleasurable travel – taking time off to lay on a beach and enjoy luxury accommodations while the people continue to suffer under harsh economic conditions. But the Mustique trip was hardly the beginning. A simple look at readers’ comments about Kate on various news websites and blogs implies that she has been losing public favor at a swift rate for several months, and much of it appears to relate to her work avoidance. Adding to an already negative situation, it’s clear that the trip to Mustique was a terrible move for the royal couple’s image. More than anything, it reinforced the preexisting notion that they are focused on doing what they want to do, not what is right to do, or what the people expect of them.
While Kate may have planned to begin some work during William’s absence in the first place, one has to wonder whether her visit to Action on Addiction, along with the three planned solo engagements, are simply acts of damage control. -And if the announcement of her charity selections last month was the first step, followed up by the last hurrah of her pre-functional life in Mustique. Kate is the world’s most famous freeloader, and it’s reasonable to say that she has postponed beginning charity work as long as possible. Had she held out much longer, there’s no telling how deeply the public’s opinion of her would have plummeted. At present, she has earned the right to inherit Camilla’s past title: “The Laziest Woman in England.” Without major changes, she could definitely compromise her potential to recover a positive public image – a situation Camilla should know all too well. It’s only logical to see Kate’s sudden gravitation toward charity and solo royal engagements as a response to a public image that needs saving – and fast.
If her image would thrive if she remained a clothes horse, would she be starting patronages now? It’s difficult to know for sure, but based on her unproductive past, it’s easy to believe that she wouldn’t. Several months ago, it was popular in the press that Will and Kate would be lying low during 2012, with Kate not beginning solo royal engagements until late in the year (or even next year) so she wouldn’t divert attention from the Queen during her Diamond Jubilee. But apparently, that plan will not come to pass, and for the first time ever, an event in Kate’s snail-paced public life is occurring sooner than predicted.
It’s detectable that Kate’s troubles are causing damage to the image of the media’s golden boy of three decades, hubby Prince William. In recent months, Kate’s leisurely lifestyle, and the selection and low number of royal duties taken on by the couple, have caused many to take a more skeptical look at Prince William’s lifestyle, choices, and value (a great topic for a future post…). This may be an even more pressing reason for the Royals and their PR team to feel a need for Kate to begin work, and hence, to redeem herself to the public.
Considering Kate’s work-shy past and present image problems, it seems obvious that she couldn’t afford to delay beginning her charity work any longer. As such, it’s not unreasonable to see her plans as damage control (It’s like when she adopted a puppy after being harshly criticized for her dedication to killing helpless wildlife just a month before…). But whatever the cause of her sudden turn toward solo engagements, one can only hope that the charities she works with benefit greatly from her involvement, and that she will continue increasing her work-load and number of patronages.
(1) “Kate Middleton meets recovering drug addicts during charity visit.” Mirror.co.uk. 2/3/2012
(2) Davidson, Lynn. “Memories of Princess Diana in Kate’s secret charity visits.” Daily Mail. 9/19/2011
(3) Ramsdale, Suzannah. “Kate Middleton prepares for her first public engagements without Prince William.” Marie Claire. 2/3/2012
© Enclave 24, February 4, 2012