This Royal Stood by Kate After Harry & Meghan's Tell-All, Says Insider
"They were good friends, but now they're closer than ever," said one royal sourcce.
One of the reasons Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge has flourished in her role as future Queen is because, from the minute she married Prince William nearly 10 years ago, she wholeheartedly embraced the royals' ethos of "keep calm and carry on." The dutiful duchess has largely stayed out of the spotlight, content to play a supporting role to William and the rest of the family. Up until now, she has also been able to sidestep any scandal. In 2020, a Palace insider described Kate to Best Life as "Princess Diana without the drama." But all that changed for Kate after the two-hour tell-all Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan did with Oprah Winfrey nearly three weeks ago.
The couple's stunning allegations that characterized members of the Royal Family as racist and uncaring came fast and furious. But to those who know and work with Kate, one of the biggest jaw-droppers was Meghan's decision to talk about the persistent reports of her making Kate cry at a bridesmaid dress fitting before her 2018 wedding. Meghan told Oprah the stories were false and that it was "the reverse" that actually happened. She also said that after the fitting, Kate apologized and "owned it," bringing her flowers after the alleged blow-up. While she said she'd forgiven Kate, Meghan added that she didn't want to be "disparaging," but hoped that her sister-in-law "would have wanted [the reports] corrected."
Kate was "mortified" that the incident was resurrected in such a public way, The Daily Mail reported in the wake of the interview. She was also "sad and disappointed" that Meghan had not so subtly included her in comments about the Royal Family doing nothing to stem the tide of negative press the Duchess of Sussex was receiving at the time.
After the interview aired in the States (it was broadcast a day later in the U.K.), Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, and William were immersed in crisis talks deciding what the Palace's response would be. As a result, "Catherine did not want to add to their stress at such a difficult time, so, in addition to looking to her mother [Carole Middleton] and sister [Pippa Middleton], she sought out a close friend within the Royal Family who could offer some support," an insider revealed.
Read on to find out which member of "the firm" has stood by Kate since the interview aired, and for more fallout from Harry and Meghan's tell-all, check out The Royals Made This One "Fateful Mistake" With Meghan, Says Insider.
Kate has a good friend in another commoner who married into the Royal Family: Sophie, Countess of Wessex.
Since marrying William nearly a decade ago, Kate has grown close to Sophie, Countess of Wessex, who married Prince Edward in 1999. Like Kate, she did not come from an aristocratic background (her father was a sales executive and her mother, a nurse) and she had to carefully navigate her way through the endless royal rules long before the duchess did.
The women are frequently spotted having a laugh at Royal Ascot and Wimbledon and have made appearances together at several engagements, including a Zoom call this year saluting nurses overseas.
"Sophie has been a trusted friend and ally for Catherine and has always been generous about sharing her insights from her experience," said a royal insider. "During these past few weeks, Sophie has quietly checked in with the duchess to see how she is faring since the interview and spent some time with her to lend support. She's been the close friend that Catherine needed."
And to find out the royal whose reputation is most on the line, check out This Royal Has the Most to Lose From Harry & Meghan's Interview, Insiders Say.
Kate and Sophie have a similar approach to royal life.
The two women have a similar low-key approach to their respective roles in promoting the public face of the Royal Family. While not a senior royal like Kate, Sophie has quietly carried out her duties and has spent years toiling for the Crown with next to no fanfare surrounding her engagements.
Since Harry and Meghan's departure from life as senior royals nearly a year ago, Sophie has taken on more responsibilities and, according to a source, she's become closer to Kate in the process. "Catherine and Sophie have seen a substantial increase in the number of official engagements they must carry out and both have done so with grace and good humor," an insider told Best Life. "The Queen has relied on them both to step in and step up during the difficulties of the past year. Sophie gets on with Catherine. They were good friends but now they're closer than ever. They make a good team."
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Both women are working mothers who want their children to have normal lives.
As a mother of three young children (Prince George, 7, Princess Charlotte, 5, and Prince Louis, 2), Kate sees Sophie, who is mother to Lady Louise Windsor, 17, and James, Viscount Severn, 13, as a kind of role model. According to a Palace source, the two women often talk about their children and their future roles within the family.
"Both Catherine and Sophie understand what it's like to raise a family inside the royal fishbowl, but still want their children to have as normal a life as possible," the insider said. "The duchess and the countess share that goal and find a great deal of mutual support in each other."
And for more on Kate and William's goals to give their children a sense of normalcy, check out 8 Things Kate and William Have Done to Give Their Kids a "Normal Life."
Sophie is reportedly the Queen's favorite daughter-in-law, and she has her ear.
Last year, a royal source told Best Life that "Sophie has a very close relationship with Her Majesty. She is very popular within the family and is thought to be the Queen's favorite daughter-in-law."
Also, Sophie's husband, Edward, is the only one of the Queen's children not to have gotten divorced. A royal source told Best Life, "[Sophie and Edward] have stayed below the radar all these years, which has been a great relief to the Queen."
The insider continued: "Both Sophie and Catherine have always been very supportive of their husbands and the entire Royal Family, which has made the Queen very happy."
Before the pandemic, Sophie and Edward reportedly drove to Windsor Castle every weekend to join the Queen for an informal supper and an evening of Netflix. While Sophie earned Her Majesty's trust long ago, Kate has grown much closer to the Queen since Harry and Meghan left royal life.
And for more on what's plaguing Kate's husband at the moment, check out The One Thing William Must Do to Save the Monarchy, Say Insiders.
Sophie has dealt with her own royal PR disaster.
After marrying Edward, Sophie continued to helm her own public relations firm until 2001, when she was forced to step down as chairman after a tabloid reporter posing as an Arab sheik recorded her boasting that potential clients could benefit from her royal connections. "If anybody ever gets additional profile or benefit from being involved with us because of my situation, that's an unspoken benefit. It's not something that anybody promises, it's something that just occurs," she was recorded saying at the time.
She was also caught on the same tape calling then Prime Minister Tony Blair "ignorant" and opining that Prince Charles would never be allowed to marry Camilla Parker-Bowles as long as the Queen Mother was alive. (They did wed three years after the Queen's death in 2002.) Sophie worked hard to regain the Queen's trust and the unfortunate episode is now a distant memory, a fact Kate likely finds solace in.
Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.