It’s amazing to me how Middleton HQ left their fingerprints all over Tina Brown’s The Palace Papers. A wiser journalist would have enjoyed the access and then written a more contemplative book about the Middletons’ PR shenanigans and just how hard they push certain narratives. But instead of that, we have Carole Middleton constantly stage-managing and “coaching” Kate throughout Kate’s relationship with Prince William. Brown credits Carole’s scheming with Kate’s big university change to St. Andrews, and Brown summarizes the mother-daughter dynamic this way:
Carole Middleton is usually characterized as a cross between Jane Austen’s Mrs. Bennett and the sitcom social climber Hyacinth Bucket… neither model is right. Carole has considerable strategic flair. Whenever Kate was bloodied in the ring, she retreated to Buckleberry, where Coach Carole would dress her wounds, advise her on moves and urge her to keep her eyes on the prize.
[From Tina Brown’s The Palace Papers]
I’m uncomfortable with the description of Kate being “bloodied in the ring” and needing her wounds dressed, just because… the imagery is really bothersome. We don’t know what is really happening in William and Kate’s marriage, but we’ve been told time and time again that William is full of rage and that he screams at everyone. There’s even talk about how William kept Kate “on a short leash” too. That comes in a section devoted to Kate and Carole’s moves in those early years of Will Kate’s university relationship. Brown gives Kate credit for “showing no pique” at William’s “rapt attention” towards Jecca Craig at Will’s 21st birthday party (when reportedly, Kate was very upset). Then they get into how Kate chased off other women:
Kate’s vigilance: Not that she wasn’t quietly vigilant. “Kate saw everybody off,” a member of her circle told me. “I mean, anyone that had had anything in the immediate past, or appeared in parties where he would sort of cast an eye and cruise across the room and say ‘Hi,’ she absolutely picked them off one by one in the crosshairs.”
Kate was constantly being coached by Carole: Whenever their romance hit a speed bump, she would retreat to Bucklebury for strategy sessions with Carole…
Their last year of university: The fourth year at St. Andrews was a dangerous passage for the Middleton-Wales liaison… the atmosphere was edgy. William was behaving like a pampered princeling. How could the second in line to the throne be anything other than a man just a little bit spoiled by a sycophancy he didn’t even recognize? Michael Choong, a rugby-playing friend who visited the couple, told Andrew Morton that William “could be flip and curt with her… he expected Kate to run after him and the longer they knew each other, the more he seemed to keep her on a tight leash.” Carole counseled “give him space.” On weekends, Kate left the campus for Bucklebury and toiled away at her dissertation…
[From Tina Brown’s The Palace Papers]
There’s something that rings so true about that quote from Michael Choong. I believe that is Will and Kate’s fundamental dynamic – he expects her to be at his beck-and-call, he expects her to be a doormat, and whenever he’s especially rude to her, she has to run to mommy to get advice. And mom tells her to stick it out, to do whatever she can to not rock the boat, to subjugate herself by any means necessary to land a prince. In addition to all of that, Kate took it upon herself to chase off any other woman who might want this angry, creepy “prize.”
In this same section, Brown even names some of the women who fascinated William, like Isabella Anstruther-gough-Calthorpe. William was “fascinated by her but Isabella was too beautiful and well connected to find the hassle of being his girlfriend interesting.” Again, the message is clear but Brown refuses to underline it.
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