Kate ‘has Diana’s big shoes to fill but wants to make her own path’

The Princess of Wales will mark her 41st birthday next week by enjoying a family party with husband Prince William, their three children and the Middletons.

As with previous birthdays, Kate is likely to snub any grand celebrations and will instead keep things simple – and even bake her own cake.

“It will either be at Windsor or Anmer Hall but it will be a small, low-key family affair,” royal author Katie Nicholl tells OK!.

“There won’t be anything flashy or showy, as Kate and William are a couple who do things in a very low-key way.

"Kate loves to have her parents and her family there for her birthdays. She will bake a cake and it will just be about being together as a family.

“It’s not a big birthday as it was her 40th last year, so I expect her 41st will be celebrated quietly.”

But while 2023 doesn’t hold a milestone birthday for Kate, the year ahead for her promises to be far bigger than 2022.

According to Katie, the Princess will be using her new role “to bring stability and continuity to the monarchy”as the royal family enters a landmark year.

After gaining her new title following the passing of Queen Elizabeth II in September, Kate is hoping 2023 will be the year she can really make the role her own.

She is well aware of the gravitas associated with her title, having prepared herself for years.

And she also knows she has big shoes to fill after it was previously held by her mother in law, the late Princess Diana, but over the next 12 months she is looking to carve out her own path, says Katie.

We will see the 40-year-old continue to shine a spotlight on the causes closest to her heart this year and will bring some calm to the monarchy following a turbulent few months.

There are also plans for Kate to use her title abroad, with herself and her husband the Prince of Wales expected to undertake plenty of international travel this year.

Royal tours to Australia, New Zealand and Canada are all on the cards, and there are even hopes that their three children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis will be able to join them.

“Ever since she married into the family and became William’s wife, Kate knew the Diana comparison would be there,” Katie tells OK!.

“She knew that one day she would become the Princess of Wales and that she had sizeable shoes to fill, but she’s stepped up to the plate. I think we will really see her taking the Princess of Wales role and making it her own this year.

"We saw her start to do this in Boston in December during her debut trip to America as the Princess of Wales. She used the title to put the spotlight on the issues that matter to her like the early years.

"She’s doing it in an understated way and she is really winning favour and support not just here in Britain but in America and around the world.

"She knows it’s a more high-profile role and an important title with a huge amount of history, heritage, weight and burden, but what’s so charming about her is that managed to stay very true to herself and authentic.”

Early years and the importance and impact of the experiences of the under 5s will be at the heart of her role as the Princess of Wales.

In June 2021, she highlighted her dedication to the cause by launching The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, while last year she visited Denmark to learn about the Danish approach to early childhood development and how the Centre for Early Childhood could learn from this.

“Early years is something she’s championed for a long time,” Katie continues.

“She’s really made an effort to understand, research and to acquire a huge amount of knowledge, and she did that knowing that this wasn’t just going to be something she did for a short time.

"I remember being told by one of her aides that it was a long-term commitment and something that would shape her work as the Princess of Wales.”

And Katie says that the Duchess will use the royal tours she carries out with William this year to continue her focus on the subject.

“You’ll clearly see the early years and her wanting to work on the other issues important to her like mental health, children’s mental health and addiction.

"She will stick to the causes close to her. I expect that where they can they will also travel in the holidays so they can also take the children with them.

"That would be the ideal because the impact of travelling with their children is going to make it a much more exciting and high-profile trip for them.

"We have increasingly seen the children emerging more into the spotlight, and whilst they’re not going to do anything to disrupt their routine and their very normal, happy childhood, I wouldn’t be surprised if we do see them on a tour abroad this year.”

She continues, “After the Jubilee weekend, Kate and William recognise that their children are very much a part of the future of the royal family and it’s an important image in terms of the succession and continuation of the royal family and the promise of what’s to come.”

As well as the early years and mental health, Kate will also be using her title to put her royal patronages in the spotlight.

Just some of these include the V&A, the National Portrait Gallery, The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club and The Lawn Tennis Association.

“I certainly think in her solo work that’s where we’ll see her pick up with those charities and patronages that aren’t as high profile as her early years work and really make sure that they’re back in the mainstream after Covid and lockdown,” Katie, author of The New Royals, adds.

“She’ll be wanting to make sure they’re as visible as they possible can be this year. Kate knows she has a unique spotlight that she can bring in order to achieve that.”

And someone within the royal family who recognise how important Kate and her new role as the Princess of Wales are to the royal family is her father-in-law King Charles.

“She has a close relationship with her father-in-law,” Katie observes. “There is a huge amount of warmth between them and mutual respect and I know that Charles feels very lucky to have Kate as part of the family.

"He absolutely recognises and appreciates what she brings. She is a huge asset and no one sees that more than the King.

"It’s a period when there’s been a lot of flux and transition for the royal family and I think promoting that image of continuity and stability is going to be the focus for this year.”

Kate will also no doubt be a huge support to Charles during his coronation in May and in the months prior when the family will be busy gearing up for the historic event.

“The prominence Kate and William are going to play in the coronation is going to be very important,” Katie tells us.

“It will be a new defining image of the future of the monarchy of which William and Kate hold a very pivotal position. Both William and Kate have these two very new and high-profile roles and there is more responsibility and pressure on them.

"He is now the heir and future King and she is the future Queen Consort. These are incredibly important roles and they take them very seriously.”

And Katie thinks the new ‘Fab Four’ of Kate, William, Charles and Queen Consort Camilla – which emerged following Prince Harry and Meghan Marklestepping back from their royal roles in 2020 – will be even more prominent this year.

“I think this year we will see the real establishment of the new ‘Fab Four’ and really making this the image of the future of the house of Windsor.

"I think that image of the four of them is going to be very apparent at the coronation and it’s going to set the tone for the future. I think that’s what we’re going to see a lot of next year.”

And while William will of course be supporting his wife in her new role and she will be hoping to make him proud, Katie says that Kate has become a pillar of strength for her husband over the last few years.

“The last couple of years have been challenging. We’ve had the brothers falling out and Megxit and I think it has been difficult for William,” Katie says.

“He’s lost his support act in Harry but he really recognises that he has an invaluable support act in Kate.

"I think they are equally proud of each other but they‘ve really needed to be there for each other over these last couple of years and I think Kate has been a huge support at a time when he really needed it.”

She continues, “I have travelled around the world with them and they are a brilliant team. They finish one another’s sentences and they are always there for each other, which is why it works.

"We’ve seen Kate as a solo act increasingly over recent years and she’s very capable on her own and very happy, but they’re also a very effective and powerful double act, so while I think we’ll see a lot of this, I do think we will see more of Kate coming out on her own as the new Princess of Wales in 2023.”

The author also reveals what she thinks has been the Duchess of Cambridge’s success in preparing for this more senior royal within the royal hierarchy.

“She hasn’t been afraid to show us that image of herself as a royal mother,” Katie notes. “What I think is her great success is being there as a future Queen Consort, supporting William and being a hands-on mum and managing to juggle all these roles.

"It’s largely down to a very supportive partner in William and they’re very happy and they’re a very good team together, but she’s also got the support of her family.

"When she married William she made him give her his word that her family would always remain close and I think that has been fundamental to her success now over 10 years on and the transition into this role.”


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