The One Way Kate Is Taking Over Now That Harry's Gone, Sources Say
Royal insiders say Kate is "well-suited for this new role."
Earlier this year, when Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan announced they would not be returning to the U.K. to resume working as senior royals, Queen Elizabeth issued a statement in which she announced she had rescinded all of the couple's royal patronages (as well as the prince's military appointments). As a result, the Sussexes' honorary patronages were returned to Her Majesty and the Palace let it be known that they would be redistributed among the remaining working royals. This week, The Sunday Times reported that Duchess Kate would soon replace Harry in regards to two major royal patronages. Read on to find out what responsibilities Kate may be taking on in the coming months and why she is the ideal replacement for Harry in the role.
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Kate will reportedly replace Harry as patron of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and the Rugby Football League (RFL).
An official announcement may be months off, but The Sunday Times reports Kate will soon replace Harry as the patron of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and the Rugby Football League (RFL). Harry had been the royal patron for both organizations for five years. It's expected that the news will be announced some time in October before the Rugby World Cup.
One of the most important aspects of being the royal patron of the RFU and the RFL is to draw media attention and generate publicity for the organizations, in addition to representing them at official events on behalf of the Queen. Kate's popularity has soared ever since she and William took on the lion's share of royal responsibilities during the pandemic, often standing in for the Queen for many official engagements. The most current YouGov poll out of the U.K. ranks Kate as the third most popular royal following the Queen, who tops the list, and William, in second.
"The Queen has been brilliant at expressing the national mood, being a steadying force representing a unified nation whenever the British people come together for a celebration," one royal source told Best Life. "Catherine embodies that same sense of duty and has become a stabilizing force not only within the Royal Family but within the country as well. She is well-suited for this new role."
The Daily Mail reported Kate will promote the RFU's "inner warrior" campaign, now in its fourth year, whose goal is to recruit more women players into clubs.
"Catherine has become more and more popular over the past year and a half. She has a real love of sport, which we saw when she attended Euro 2020 Championship with William and Prince George," said another source. "Her natural enthusiasm for competition and her easy-going manner make her the perfect choice to help recruit more women into the clubs. She has shown she's comfortable talking with athletes in every setting as well as championing their talents in public settings, as she did at Wimbledon this year."'
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The Rugby Football League reportedly had William in mind when Harry left the U.K.
The Telegraph reported in February that both the RFU and RFL were "blindsided" by the news that Harry was made to relinquish his patronages. At the time, a source told the outlet they were "very keen to keep Prince Harry, he's been fantastic." Having learned that was no longer an option, the RFL wanted William to take over, according to the report.
However, the Duke of Cambridge is already president of the English Football Association, which has kept him quite busy over the past year, taking on the issue of racism within sports and continuing his work with athletes to bring awareness to mental health issues.
But there's another reason the Queen may pick Kate over William to take over for Harry. "Losing these patronages was very painful to Harry and it caused a great deal of hurt," an insider told Best Life. "Giving them to William is a bit like rubbing salt in the wound. By awarding them to Kate, it softens the blow somewhat and doesn't give the media another chance to stir up more controversy over William and Harry's rift."
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The new patronages "fit perfectly" with Kate's athleticism, insiders say.
Not only has Kate been a fan of rugby long before she met William—she grew up watching games with her family at the Middleton family home in Bucklebury—but the duchess has played a number of sports from a very early age. She has been an avid tennis player since she was a child and now plays with Prince George and Princess Charlotte on their own courts at their country home, Anmer Hall. The duchess is also patron of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, which hosts Wimbledon. This year (after a few days of self-isolating because of exposure to COVID) she presented the winning trophy to Ashleigh Barty and chatted with several other athletes, including Gordon Reid and Alfie Hewett, who won the Wimbledon men's wheelchair doubles.
Kate is also a big field hockey fan, as the captain of her high school's team and by all reports, a star player. In 2012, she practiced with the British Olympic women's field hockey team in London in the run-up to the Olympic Games and even scored a goal. It's not usual to see the duchess run down the playing field with her stick at the ready during official visits to various countries.
"If Catherine does take over these royal patronages from Harry, and all indications seem to look like she will, the Queen will have chosen very well," said a source. "Her Majesty knows this new responsibility fits Catherine perfectly with the duchess's sporty side."
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In her new role, Kate will be competing with William on the playing field.
If Kate should be named patron of the RFU and RFL, it's another opportunity for the competitive Cambridges to face off on the playing field. The duchess will be up against some stiff competition from William, who is the patron of the Welsh national rugby team. The prince took over the role from the Queen in 2016, the same year Harry was named patron of English rugby.
William and Kate have competed against each other on boats, the cricket pitch, and most memorably, the running track (with Prince Harry to boot). These occasions were always meant to draw attention to various causes or organizations, but they also revealed a playful, yet intense competitiveness that the duke and duchess share.
"The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are very much a loving couple, but they do seem to really enjoy going up against each other when it comes to a sporting competition," a source told Best Life. "Besides being a lot of fun, it's probably a very good way for them to blow off steam given all the pressure they are under."
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Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.