The Secret Reason Why Kate Middleton Is So Grateful for Meghan Markle
It's nice to have the spotlight shift, for a change.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been greeted by enthusiastic crowds everywhere they've visited since arriving in Australia last week for their 16-day royal tour, and my sources tell me there has been plenty of conversation back in the United Kingdom among certain members of the royal family about the overwhelmingly positive reception the expectant parents are getting.
"The Queen is very pleased that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been so warmly received on the tour due in no small part for their enthusiasm for walkabouts," said one royal insider. "They have both executed their duties with great care. People they've met are responding very well to the duke and duchess' genuine warmth and curiosity. It's very gratifying to Her Majesty."
Since arriving down under last Monday, just as the news of Meghan's pregnancy broke, the royal couple have maintained a full schedule of appearances—including a reception in Sydney where they received their first baby gifts (a stuffed kangaroo and a tiny pair of Ugg boots), attending a ceremony for fallen veterans at the Anzac Memorial, opening the Invictus Games, and going for a stroll on Bondi Beach.
"The Palace is very happy about the way the duke and duchess have kept on, particularly in light of the duchess being in the early stages of her pregnancy," said my source.
There is one other member of the royal family who is particularly thrilled to see Harry and Meghan shining in the spotlight: Kate Middleton.
I'm told the Duchess of Cambridge, who recently resumed her royal duties after her six-month maternity leave following the birth of Prince Louis, is thrilled to see sister-in-law Meghan adapting so well to royal life for a number of reasons. "Catherine and Harry are very close. He has said she is the sister he never had," said my source. "Catherine is thrilled to see him so happy with Meghan by his side. She thinks they are a marvelous couple."
But, said the insider, there is also another reason Kate is so pleased to see Meghan adapting so well to life in the royal fishbowl. "Before Meghan joined 'The Firm,' Catherine was the focus of so much unrelenting scrutiny and considered the only 'glamorous' royal. Everything from the length of her hair to the clothes she wears has been the subject of so much media attention; she sometimes finds it tiresome."
But now, said my source, Kate is happy to share—and even cede—the spotlight. "While the Duchess of Cambridge is a naturally warm and friendly person, she is not someone who ever sought out the limelight and has had to adapt since becoming a royal. She makes it look effortless now, but it did require a period of tremendous adjustment. The Duchess of Sussex clearly enjoys the more public aspects of the job. Her training as an actress has been a big advantage. Catherine is more than happy to have the lion's share of the media attention shift to her sister-in-law," the insider said.
There are, of course, some Palace insiders who don't share that opinion. "Catherine is the future queen and as such, has a much more prominent role than Meghan," said my source. "There are some people, not many, but a few, who are watching carefully to make sure Meghan's popularity doesn't overshadow the other senior royals. No one wants another Princess Diana situation."
Last week, I reported that Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew were upset that Harry and Meghan chose to share their baby news at Princess Eugenie's wedding to Jack Brooksbank. "There is some jealousy there," said my source. "But Eugenie is close to Harry and quite fond of Meghan. Most everyone realizes Harry and Meghan's incredible popularity is very good for the royals overall."
Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.