Duchess Meghan and Duchess Catherine both married a prince from the British royal family. While one seems born for the role of duchess, the other quits her job. Why it is like that.
When Prince William and Kate Middleton announced their engagement in November 2010, the couple had been together for seven years, barring two short breaks. So long that Kate is mockingly called “Waity Katie” in the press. Even in the palace, she doesn’t go down well with everyone. A source told the Daily Mail years later: “Some people were very snobbish about Kate when she came on, but she kept her head down and carried on.”
After the wedding in April 2011, the tide turned. The woman who is number two in line to the British throne not only accepts the conditions of her new life, but adapts them with flying colors – and successively convinces the public, the palace and the royal family of her qualities as a future queen. “Kate never puts a foot wrong” can still be read in newspapers to this day.
Duchess Catherine: A perfect queen for the UK
“Kate made her role a success because she came from a solid middle class background and was prepared to do that [royale] Playing the game,” says an insider to the Daily Mail. Proponents attest that she never puts herself in the foreground and not only supports her husband unconditionally, but also lets him shine in his royal role. Kate is dutiful, meets her needs never about that of the monarchy and is an absolute team player, praise court reporters.In an interview with the “Sunday Times”, Penny Junor also emphasizes that Kate’s popularity and notoriety have not gone to her head.
Queen Elizabeth appreciates her grandson’s wife for “her professionalism, her commitment and her ability to get royal life going without getting nervous,” reveals a palace informant “Closer Weekly” in February 2020. One of the most important rules should be The advice Queen once gave Kate herself: Never speak publicly about matters affecting the royal family. Never complain, never explain. A credo that Kate internalized even before she got engaged to Prince William and that still earns her respect today.
Meghan Markle: An (imperfect) duchess for the British royal family
Meghan Markle grew up neither in royalty nor in the elite circles of British high society; She was born in the USA in 1981 as the daughter of a Caucasian lighting director and an Afro-American make-up artist. When Meghan met Harry in 2016, she was a TV actress and had already been divorced once. In short: a personality that has never existed before in the history of the British royal family. That makes Meghan exciting, interesting and – initially – a good PR figurehead for the monarchy. The message of getting engaged to Harry in 2017 – a year and a half after the relationship began – is clear: Queen Elizabeth and her family are moving with the times and opening up to the 21st century.
But Meghan’s strengths in the bourgeois world are also her weaknesses in the courtly. Friends and biographers describe her as self-confident, ambitious, goal-oriented and progressive. A woman who knows what she wants. A woman who wants to be heard. A woman who wants to speak for herself. And one that brings a different work ethic to the members of the palace apparatus. One can say: Meghan has qualities that are predestined to collide with the protocol of the court that has grown over centuries.
Life on the farm is different than expected
“She has no idea about the institution she married into. She feels she should go with the Queen and Duchess [von Cambridge] be at eye level to make the world revolve around her,” a royal aide told the Daily Mail. “What she doesn’t understand or accept at all is that [royale] Pecking order.” And this is clearly regulated: At the top are the Queen and her husband, then the Cornwall couple, then the Cambridges and only then the Sussexes. There is no place in the palace for self-realization.
“I have to admit that I was a bit naïve about it,” Meghan admitted in an interview with Oprah Winfrey in March 2021. “I didn’t know that much about the royal family. That was never a big issue at home.” She later added that “the construct” of the courtyard was restrictive for an adult who had previously “lived a really independent life”.
Cultural differences are also noticeable. In an interview in October 2019, journalist Tom Bradby reveals that the British “stiff upper lip”, which the Royals perfect outwardly, was not able to adapt. Not being able to show and express feelings is bad for mental health, she adds. A year and a half later, in the Oprah interview, Meghan will reveal how profound and serious the damage to her psyche has been.
“Keep calm and carry on” is not an option
Above all, the negative reporting in the media and hate on Instagram is a problem for Meghan. In her opinion, the palace has done too little to protect her. Another insider said: “If she had met her husband’s stepmother, the Duchess of Cornwall, for tea, she might have been able to find out how [Camilla] has been haunted by the media for years. Camilla survived the beating like everyone else in the royal family by staying still, moving forward and doing her job.” Just as Duchess Catherine is doing and as the palace requires.
Remain still and carry on – at some point Duchess Meghan no longer wants and can no longer do that. She wants to get out of the royal family, away from the British press and go her own, self-determined path. In January 2020, she and Prince Harry announce their retirement as senior royals.
Duchess Meghan: Why she never had a chance against Duchess Catherine in the palace
Kate and Meghan both married a British prince – that’s where their togetherness begins and ends. Each of them brought different knowledge, skills and experience to “the Windsor company” – but in the end only one felt comfortable with the job as a duchess. So Meghan took her consequences and did what many workers would do in her situation: she resigned.
There is no denying that the established and much-admired Duchess Catherine has big footsteps in the palace and royal family. Maybe too big to follow. Especially for a person like Meghan Markle, who has a completely different biography and personality than her sister-in-law – and who wants to make her own mark.
The British media, which constantly compares the two women, also plays a role. With Duchess Catherine on the one hand and Duchess Meghan on the other, the ideal cast of protagonist and antagonist has been found – and it has made it difficult for Meghan to exist alongside Kate.
Source used: own research