Until Kate Middleton married into the royal family in 2011, there hadn’t been such a high-ranking new addition to "the Firm" (as the Windsor clan is sometimes called) since Princess Diana. And in the three decades between Kate's wedding and her late mother-in-law's, so much had changed that the newly minted Duchess of Cambridge largely found herself in
Seven years later, how will the transition be for the newest senior royal bride Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex?
There are many similarities between the early royal experiences of Kate and Meghan—they have both received training in the fields of personal safety, etiquette, international diplomacy, and royal history; they both had to give up independent lives in order to become public figures
MEGHAN HAS MUCH MORE EXPERIENCE WITH PUBLIC LIFE THAN KATE DID WHEN SHE JOINED THE FAMILY.
At the age of 29, Kate was younger and less-experienced in public life than Meghan was when she became royalty, so in some
Kate was eased onto the public stage, carrying out only six official duties between her engagement announcement and wedding, and her first post-wedding appearance was a diplomatic reception with the Obamas almost a month after her big day.
The Duchess of Cambridge’s first engagement without William was a visit with the Queen to the public exhibition of Kate's wedding dress three months after her wedding; her first solo engagement was undertaken six months after the wedding; charity patronages were announced eight months after the wedding; and her first speech came almost a year later.
Queen Elizabeth and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, view Kate's wedding dress on display at Buckingham Palace in 2011.
Seven years later, we’ve already seen Meghan check off some of these milestones. Meghan was 36 when she married Harry, and while she too had a low-key, middle-class upbringing, her move into professional acting during her twenties meant that she already knew how to handle herself on a public platform. She entered the royal family with a keen
Before meeting Harry, Meghan was used to a hectic schedule, juggling filming for Suits with modeling jobs, humanitarian commitments, and managing a lifestyle brand. After their engagement, Meghan undertook 17 royal duties before the wedding, and her first official post-wedding duty was just three days after the big celebration.
The Duchess of Sussex's first engagement without Prince Harry was her away
Meghan and The Queen in Chester.
Kate was the blueprint for a young new-generation royal marrying in, and Meghan will certainly benefit from Kate’s experiences. When she was first married it was not yet established whether Kate would have a traditional lady-in-waiting as Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson had, but in the
PRINCE HARRY IS ALREADY A FULL-TIME WORKING ROYAL.
In some ways, Meghan is facing a trickier path because there will be no real period of acclimation for her, as Harry is already a full-time working royal.
When William and Kate got married, William was working as a Search and Rescue pilot, and the couple lived on the remote Welsh island of Anglesey. It wasn’t until two years later, in September 2013, that William left the RAF and they moved into their newly-refurbished apartment at Kensington Palace.
It meant that in Kate’s first year of married life she could take meetings, make visits, do her research, and acclimate slowly.
While she attended the Epsom Derby and Trooping the Colour that year, she didn’t pop up at other royal staples such as a Buckingham Palace Garden party or Royal Ascot until several years later. Additionally, Duchess Kate was on home soil and it was relatively easy to spend time with her family as she would stay with her parents at their home in Berkshire and they would visit her in Wales.
William and Kate at Trooping the Color in 2011.
Meanwhile, because Harry has been a full time working royal since 2015, it’s all Meghan has known, and as she said, she has “hit the ground running.”
Meghan was with Harry for not quite two years when they married, and so her introduction to royal life has been more accelerated than Kate’s was. The
Meghan and Harry at Trooping the Color in 2018.
KATE IS THE FUTURE QUEEN CONSORT.
To put it bluntly, Kate is the wife of the future King and Meghan isn't, so understandably there are differences between Kate and Meghan's obligations. For example, in Kate’s first year of married life, an official portrait was commissioned of her, but as the wife of the sixth in line to the throne, we’re not likely to see this with Meghan.
British artist Paul Emsley poses in front of his portrait of Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge in 2013.
Again, as future Queen, Kate’s bridal gown was exhibited at Buckingham Palace shortly after her , and while Meghan’s gorgeous Givenchy dress is certain to be displayed publicly at some point in the future, it is unlikely to happen any time soon.
THERE'S LESS PRESSURE TO PRODUCE AN HEIR TO THE THRONE.
Even in the modern era, producing
Harry and Meghan’s first born will be seventh in line (after Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis, and Prince Harry), and will likely never reign. Harry and Meghan are reportedly keen to start a family for their own personal reasons, but there will be no pressure to do so in an official royal capacity.
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.