Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge: Royal Housewife

Now that the wedding is over, and the top of the wedding cake has been frozen to be eaten on their first anniversary (do the Brits even follow that custom?) what is next for the royal couple? After a brief weekend break, Prince William went back to work today as a search and rescue pilot with the RAF. The couple are not set to take their honeymoon for a few weeks, hopefully somewhere warm (There is speculation that the royal honeymoon was canceled because of what went down this weekend with Osama). While the Duke is pursuing his career in the RAF, Kate is set to return to normality as a housewife. Word on the street is that she has decided not to become a full-time working royal for the next two years, instead she wants to enjoy life for as long as she can as an ‘ordinary RAF wife’ in the rented farmhouse that they share on the island of Anglesey in North Wales . “Catherine wants to enjoy her time with William as an RAF wife,” said a friend. “It’s so rare that someone in her position gets the chance to live as a normal wife and she intends to make the most of it.”

Kate’s life will be somewhat reminiscent of the Queen’s life when she first married the Duke of Edinburgh who was still an active officer in the Royal Navy. Some of the happiest times of their lives were when they were first married and the Duke was posted to Malta. Between 1949 and 1951, the Duke of Edinburgh was stationed in Malta (then a British Protectorate) as a serving Royal Navy officer. He and Elizabeth lived intermittently, for several months at a time, in the Maltese hamlet of GwardamanÄ¡ia, at the Villa GwardamanÄ¡ia, the rented home of Philip's uncle, Lord Mountbatten. The children, Anne and Charles however remained in Britain.

The Duchess has been invited to join the wives' club at RAF Valley. Support from other women in a similar situation will be important. Only they really understand the difficulties of having a spouse in a high-pressure job such as search and rescue. Other wives may also provide a social network for Kate if she goes through a lengthy separation from William. It has been reported that he may be posted to the Falkland Islands to serve for two and a half months as part of his training. In the meantime, Kate will only conduct public engagements with William. According to the Daily Mail, Kate wants to model herself on Camilla, who insisted on a 'supporting role' only after her marriage to Prince Charles in 2005.

This decision is as much William’s as it is Kate’s doing, as he has asked aides to keep her commitments to a minimum. Accordingly, there are only a few events penciled into her diary for the upcoming months. The only definite dates include events like Trooping the Color (aka the Queen’s official birthday), a couple of polo matches and the Duke of Edinburgh's 90th birthday. There will also be Zara Phillip’s wedding to Mike Tindall in Scotland at the end of July. Meanwhile, in Canada excitement is building as Kate will accompany William on a two-week tour in July. Rumor has it that the royal couple may be bringing some glitz and glamor to Tinsletown itself at the end of the tour although that hasn’t been confirmed (at least according to Andrew Morton on his new site The Morton Report). Word is that they will also be taking on a significant role next year for the Olympics, not to mention the Queen’s 60th anniversary on the throne.

Seriously though, one has to wonder, won’t she get bored just sitting around the cottage waiting for William to come home? Before she, at least, had her job at Party Pieces to occupy her when she wasn’t with William. Aides to the Prince however insist that Kate ‘will not be idle’ and that while William is on duty, she will be ‘pursuing other interests.’ Hmm, Kate once expressed an interest in photography, I wonder if she might take that up again. There’s also the possibility eventually of the pitter-patter of tiny royal feet.

Soon, however, Kate will have to take on some royal engagements on her own. It is important that she be seen to be earning her keep as it were. During the years that she was dating Prince William, she was criticized for being ‘work-shy.’ Apart from working for her parents at Party Pieces, the only job she had was as a part-time Accessories buyer for the High-Street chain Jigsaw. Last year, the Queen who is 85 conducted 444 royal engagements, while Prince Charles carried out 585! William on the other hand performed 73. Of course, he also has a full-time job in the RAF so he can be forgiven for not undertaking more. Kate, however, does not have that excuse.

While it is understandable that Prince William does not want Kate to be thrown into the deep end the way is mother was, Kate seems to be a pretty tough cookie. She’s already proven that she has a natural confidence about her in the few royal engagements that she performed before the wedding. I have a feeling that she would be fine if she undertook a few solo engagements at carefully selected charities that have some personal meaning to her. However, according to the Daily Mail, she wants to explore the fields that interest her before committing to her own charities.

It appears that Kate has the blessing of the Queen, who no doubt remembers what it was like in the few short years that she had as a newlywed before her father’s untimely death which thrust her into the duties of the monarchy. You have to applaud Kate’s chutzpah at bucking royal tradition.

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