Privilege Blog

Why I Don’t Like Kate Middleton, Much

The now-Duchess, Quebec, July 4, 2011

As I have said, I don’t much care for Kate Middleton.

Now, to be precise, I don’t know the woman. Here’s what I mean. I don’t much care for the construct of Kate Middleton, or the type of admiration her construct tends to inspire.

We are allowed to say we don’t like celebrities, and it can be generally understood that we mean we don’t like their construct, their avatar if you will. Celebrities build their public selves via images released to the media and carefully orchestrated public behavior. They put themselves out there, we can have some opinions.

Deep breath. Long sentence on the way. Here, with a full set of appropriate conditions, are the reasons for my personal feelings about what I have assumed about the avatar now known as the Duchess of Cambridge. I understand she’s not Ms. Middleton anymore. That’s one of my issues.

But Why?

  • Is it the prince and eventual princess thing? Must descendants of America’s original revolutionaries hate British royals? Nope. I find no deep harm in a ceremonial head of state. I’m quite fond of Elizabeth. It has been pointed out that if America had a King we might do better in selecting Presidents for their abilities, instead of their haircuts.
  • Am I jealous that Kate married Wills? Nope. I kind of prefer Bad Harry.
  • Do I find her taste in clothing tedious and somehow lacking either the preposterous frump or the doomed glamor that often characterizes aristocracy? Do I shake my head, perplexed, at how much people admire her style? Yes. But that’s insufficient grounds for dislike.

So what then?

‘m uncomfortable that becoming a Princess inspires adulation. I’m particularly uncomfortable that to inspire said adulation, almost-princesses must become visibly thinner, say little, and invest primarily in good hair. Young princes just have to keep their pants on in public.

And, to extrapolate, I find there’s often a correlation between Kate-worship and political beliefs. Particularly around the role of women. Note that I use the term, “often,” advisedly. If you have other ideas, I’m open.

Please don’t mistake my feelings or my intent. I believe the agricultural role for women, bear children, feed a family, work near to the kitchen or hearth rather than roam afield to hunt or ride a tractor, is valuable. This life can provide nurture for the woman as much as her family. I would have been happy to stay home and have a passel of children.

But I’m a feminist. A dyed-in-the-wool, stone cold believer in the rights of women. As defined by women. And I find that often Duchess of Cambridge worship keeps company with the more restrictive values of Kinder, Kuche, Kirche. Most modern technology, education, and evolution has been directed towards control of human biology. So if we can’t enable women to own their own biology, and as a result choose a role that transcends it, well, what’s the point?

I guess, examining my feelings as best I can, I believe the Royal part of the Duchess of Cambridge avatar cements an idea of the feminine that I don’t care for, to an idea of authority and dignity that I’m unwilling to relinquish. I understand Kate had no choice. I understand that protocol requires her to behave as she does. I just don’t like what that protocol, and her avatar under that protocol, imply about women.

Men don’t aspire to marry princesses in order to become a prince.

We are not accessories. We are not primarily valuable for our blue dresses. Nor our tresses. We should not have to get thin to rise to power, any more than men do.

I’m sure she’s a very nice young woman. If only she’d kept her last name.

151 Responses

  1. Thank you for a Saturday morning thought-provoker!

    Here’s what I’m thinking: The very idea of royalty results in something of a breeding program. Females in breeding programs do not have freedom and autonomy.

    1. “An heir and a spare” is the phrase I’m familiar with – meaning, her job is to produce two sons.

    2. I forgot about the “regardless of male or female will inherit throne” yadda yadda yadda …
      It reminds me of other historical irrelevancies, for example, the reading of the bill to ‘abolish slavery’ in the house of lords after slavery was no longer the cash cow it had been …

    3. But don’t you think that someone who never wanted kids is not going to sign up for that job? I mean, you know what the job entails, right? I do feel terribly sorry for the Japanese princess who had fertility issues, but her husband seems to adore her and stuck by her in the toughest times (as one would hope, but you never know these days).

    4. I think you have good ideas about royal/celeb worship, but the key is in one of your statements: you do not know Kate personally. What you are perceiving about her has more to do with what the media are trying to create for their own financial gain. The love story of the heir to the throne with his commoner college friend is what initially captured the world’s imagination. Any person who has met her personally always describes her as a person of substance and humility. She does have style and beauty, but that need not undercut who she is as a human being. The Royal family is steeped in traditon and protocol which is part of the fascination for those interested in the longevity of such an historical monarchy.Hence, using her maiden name would not be in line with royal protocol, not that she is not a modern woman. From all accounts, she is very bright and well grounded, and is genuine about her humaitarian goals. You mentioned you like the Queen. It is well known that her Majesty is quite fond of Kate which tells you something.

    5. Marta – Yes, the statement about keeping her last name was meant to be both tongue-in-cheek and provocative. And you are right, I react to the public image created, not the woman herself.

  2. She clearly knew what she was getting herself into when she married William. Things do change in the monarchy, but very slowly. If I understand correctly, William and Kate’s first child, regardless of gender, will inherit the throne. Kate will have an opportunity to help guide that change over the next decades. I’m delaying judgement until after William’s reign – of course that will probably be long after my time on this planet is done. As a fashion icon, she is a major improvement on Snooki, Lindsay Lohan, Brittany Spears and the Kardashian crowd.

    1. But our expectations should be so much higher than Snooki et al, shouldn’t they? My beef is that we don’t have a sense of her. If being a public figure is, in essence, your only job, I would want to cultivate more than just my blue dress. But that’s me I suppose. I’m a bit more “bolshie”, as they say over here.

    2. So here’s the thing. I get kind of a kick out of the Kardashians. They make their own money, they do as they please. I don’t like what they do perhaps, but I enjoy something about their audacity and willingness to flout convention – as a celebrity.

  3. If I am understanding you correctly, your objection isn’t so much with Kate herself as much as it is with the notion of generic Princess Worship in general. I can understand that as a fellow feminist. I never considered any political correlation, but I think you may be on to something.

    That said, I do think Kate is lovely and quite beautiful and really the perfect Disney Princess in many ways, and I find it her hard not to like her (or at least admire her grace).

    As usual, thank you for making me think.

    1. Dawn, you have understood me correctly. Obviously I didn’t make myself clear enough, and either your empathy or your brilliance or both allowed you to figure out what I was after. Thank you. I wish I could bring your comment up into the body of the post:). Perhaps I should.

  4. Excellent points! I am a fan (mostly*) of Kate, but I completely agree with your arguments. She gets the short end of the royal scepter. People only talk about her clothes and the state of her womb.

    *If only she wore more bling. It’s not like she doesn’t have access to it.

  5. Amen. I think she is a lovely young woman, actually, but I abhor the idea of hereditary privilege, title, and government. I don’t mind, indeed, I approve of hereditary wealth (why should the government someone’s hard-earned money but not the family?), but privilege should be earned.

    You shouldn’t automatically be elected, or at least electable, because your last name is “Kennedy.” You shouldn’t be head of state just because your grandmother was also head of state. Your title shouldn’t be derivative of your husband’s title.

    1. Why should the government GET someone’s hard-earned money?

      Sorry – I am exhausted because my husband – my untitled, un-privileged husband has been running for the state house here and we have been all campaign, all the time for the past two months. I am so ready for Tuesday!

      On Wed, I start publishing my blog posts about it. I have told my husband that if he ever runs for office again, I will divorce him.

  6. I have other “issues” with her: She smiles, a lot, but her eyes never seem to smile. She moves her mouth and that’s it.
    I am not referring to the hundreds and thousands of press-images, where she has to smile, but those smiles at the wedding, when she looks at her husband for a moment. I just can not make out the spark in those moments and this confuses me.
    I would love to see that spark I am missing in her eyes, since I am a bit fan of princesses. :-)

    Well, and then you have the family. I guess it is not the nicest thing you could do as a sister – wearing a (ivory)white dress at your sister’s wedding. Call me paranoid, but I sense some dysfuntions over there. >;-)

    1. Apparently it is traditional for the bridesmaid (and the children) to wear the same material as the bride in the UK. I doubt the average bride in the UK does that but it is a very traditional thing. In fact, her sister and the little girls dresses were all made from leftover fabric from her dress. I actually had the same reaction as you but I learned that from one of the numerous blogs that I read. :)

    2. niche, really?!! I had no idea.

      Why would a bride want the other girls/women to wear the same fabric? In Austria the bride’s dress is the one, that stands out. Every guest at the wedding immediately recognizes the bride, since there is only one woman wearing a dress as bright and special as her’s.

    3. @ Paula: Well, the whole idea of the bridesmaids and flower girls wearing the same color / fabric as the bride is to “confuse” bad spirits who would want to go after the bride. It is old tradition / superstition dating back to the roman days if I am not mistaken.

  7. I’m with you. It’s not her per se, it’s the “oh how lucky she is, she is now a princess”as if that was the best one could aspire to that bothers me. I personally wouldn’t want her life, but in all honesty, I don’t like monarchy either.

  8. I never quite got it either. I have to say, I find her dress sense downright depressing. There are SO many ways that a young, well-put-together woman could showcase the best of British designers and bring the aristocracy out of their perpetual state of 1984-edness occasion dressing. That hair is screaming for an update. Those sausage curls (oy!). That is the hair we all had when we were in our teens and 20s and afraid to cut any of it for fear that men might not find us attractive if we lost even a half an inch of length.

    But I’m being petty. Really, the construct bothers me too. For me, I just feel like for the first time, we have a young, potentially (read: potentially) vibrant person in a position of high-visibility, and instead of bringing the role along into a modern feminist ideal, she is towing the party line. I’m sure she has been advised to do so, but sheesh! I think she would be so much more interesting if she would show us who she is.

    1. Show us who she is and wear less plebian outfits, if we are to focus on her outfits at all, that is.

  9. Very interesting post. I suppose I don’t think about the Duchess very much, but when I do it is usually because I see her photo in the media. And I must admit, I find her a delightful change from the celebrity/avatars that fascinate consumers of today’s mass culture. I give you the Kardashians as exhibit A.
    Katherine Middleton Is a university educated woman of 30 who lived openly with her boyfriend for many years. She chose to stay with that boyfriend, and married him, and with her marriage came a job, and that job is being a princess. The job description is not one most of us would wish for or envy, but she seems to like her job and the duties that go with it, and she is good at it as well. Does that really mean she has an avatar? Or is she just another one of us with a public persona and a private one?
    As feminists, who are we to say what a woman’s job should or shouldn’t be? Dare we imply that she has given up her authority and dignity? Can we judge her when no one knows what else this girl has up her sleeve?
    As a 54-year-old feminist, I ask that we open our minds and embrace all possibilities for all women.
    For some women, the possibilities include the job of being a princess.

    1. I can now stop trying to throw my thoughts together because Margaret Goodhouse here and written them down so beautifully. You touched every single point I struggled to form into sentences, thank you Margaret.

    2. “because Margaret Goodhouse here and written…”

      Correction, the above should read “because Margaret Goodhouse here has written…..”

    3. I think that’s an excellent point. I’ve been a working woman, then a working mother and for the last year I’ve been what I never thought I’d be–a stay-at-home mother. There’s no shame in being any of those things. I don’t think feminism is about judging other women.

    4. I agree with Margaret Goohouse’s sentiments on this issue. I believe in the possibility of feminist princesses. And that children, kitchen, and church can also be a feminist choice.

    5. The key words is choice. And I will reiterate, I don’t know her. I judge the public image. Which, since it is public on purpose, I feel is fair game.

  10. The lovely Kate, married for love into the family business. It would seem her public persona is very controlled and scripted. This is the job she signed on for. Privately, she is probably quite different. I expect great things from this young couple in the years ahead. Also, she was thin and had beautiful hair, before they became a couple. Not the first bride to lose weight due to wedding anxiety either!

  11. This is a really interesting post. I am not a big fan of princess worship either (and I find Disney princess worship in grown women downright inexplicable, but that’s another kettle of fish entirely.) On the other hand, I kind of get it. All of us, men and women alike, dream of winning the glamour lottery. We all dream of having excuses to wear ball gowns to galas. However, much like the lottery, it’s the dream of winning everything with no effort. If one can snag a prince, your work is done. If a prince is not at hand, then your only options for glamour are to aim for Hollywood starlet (just as weight obsessed, and with questionable moral overtones), or to spend years clawing your way up the political or corporate ladder, and finally win enough status to be invited to galas and openings when you are far too busy to attend, and too decrepit to look good in a ball gown anyway, because you’ve neglected your health so shamefully along the way.

    I also think it’s one of the reasons why proms and weddings have turned into such huge productions. It’s the only two times in an average woman’s life when she has a culturally sanctioned reason to pull out all the glamour stops.

    1. Very interesting point. Add to this all the reality TV around getting beautiful and getting married – well then!

  12. Rare commenter here. Although I am rather in the middle on her personally, I do have a different thought. I think the one who can give her the most advice on her future role is not another princess, nor even another female, but Prince Philip. After reading a biography of Queen Elizabeth, I was struck with how much he also had to give up being married to a monarch, (his career immediately had to go) so I am not convinced that the difficulty of being married to one is totally a gender-based issue. And he cannot advise her on a barrier that she and William have already broken, that of both of them marrying out of their class, something that some in the UK may hold against her while denying that is an issue. But then I’m an American, so a modern monarchy seems somewhat like really elaborate PR for the UK government anyway. Which makes it less exciting, but clarifies the role.

    1. @girltuesday brought Prince Philip up on Twitter. I hadn’t thought about him. Clearly the stand near and look appropriate IS part of marrying a royal. Good point. So my issue is clearly with the Look Appropriate as it applies to young women. I prefer a different definition, a more assertive one, of appropriate.

      If Kate had been in the military, do you think she would do as Prince Philip does and stand near Will in her dress uniform?

    2. Not sure if you meant the question rhetorically, but I hope you don’t mind if I answer my somewhat poorly informed, non-royal guess. If there were no existing protocol to follow, it would probably go to the Head of the Firm to decide. I believe the Queen herself admires the military and was a part of it during WWII, so perhaps that would be fine with her? I would be curious if the U.K. perspective on female royalty is less starry-eyed than it is here, where they can be seen speaking at library or community center openings in the rain on a Tuesday, lacking magic wands or fairy godmothers.

  13. Okay. Gotcha! And I agree with many/most of your points. I’m still really uncomfortable with saying, in a public forum, that I don’t like someone, whether or not that someone is mostly a construct. But I certainly do it myself, in more private circs.
    I’m really mystified about the whole name-changing thing in young women, but I’ve talked to some whose reasons were thoughtful and compelling and not what I was able to imagine.
    I’m glad you took the time to clarify last week’s comment — have a lovely weekend!

    1. I certainly don’t make a habit of posting about how I don’t like anything, except uncomfortable shoes:). This post was specifically because several people responded to last weeks casual comment. I was surprised by the force of the response, and therefore put this post together. I feel public is fair game. After all, I write posts and people tell me they don’t like what I say. They have a right to do so, since I pressed Publish.

  14. Finland is surrounded by countries with Kings and Queens, Princes and Princesses. Yet that does not bother me at all. They are our celebs here in the north, you over there have your movie stars.
    I admit that I have not followed the life of them more than what the media has poured over us.
    Actually the Royal Families are quite harmless, with no power. However, they are quite expensive for the countries they represent.
    I don´t know why Princess Diana was ever so popular, but the British sure loved her, and are now naturally wild about the new Diana – Kate.
    For me, she seems just as distant as the celebs in the film industry.
    The situation might be different, if I were British myself.

  15. I’m a liberal and a feminist (as are all my friends) and I like Kate and so do my friends. Why? I find her a refreshing change from the Kardashian/Paris Hilton sex tape-types, who (if you ask me) are more dangerous in their participation in the process of objectifying women. Sure, it would be refreshing if a princess held a paid job, but none of the First Ladies have done that, either, and I think most of them were pretty intelligent (even if I didn’t agree with all their views).

    She seems polite, educated, intelligent and stylish in a refreshingly decorous way. She might not be my role model for the ages, but I’m a fan.

    1. Thank you. This is a perspective I hadn’t considered. The personal back story here is that a young woman I had no capacity for demure, except in my dress. In the 80s, outspoken women were not always well-regarded, and much struggle ensued. As a result, as I said above, I appreciate Kardashian audacity, and find that demure objectifies women as much as outright display. That’s my personal response.

  16. The lack of fine breeding is vividly visible (to my eye).

    Russian media is flooded with reports regarding Kate’s marriage to prince was her mother’s successful long-term project …

  17. Oh, hear hear. I have plenty of thoughts about this – that women in their 20s-early 30s are getting married earlier (or indeed getting married at all) than our cousins of ten years seniority did, that we wear big diamond rings to illustrate how much we’re worth, that investment bankers now come home from work to don floral pinnies and whip up some cupcakes, and lawyers squeak over each others’ recent handknits, that the political right is gaining ground, and that we admire Kate Middleton because she’s thin, plain vanilla, and quiet – because we are all scared. (Of climate change, of economic crises, of the future). But I have just had my appendix removed and fear my whitterings would be more rambly than usual.

    I type as a doctor who loves to knit and bake, wearing a large-ish diamond on my left hand given to me by my beloved in advance of our wedding in June. And I will most definitely be keeping my name.

  18. To me she Kate doesnt seem a very interesting young woman. I dont know what she did after leaving university.

    My mother had the same ambivalence about Diana ..who I loved..maybe it’s an age thing.

    BTW always fascinated by Americans’ excitment about “our” royals

    1. She did absolutely nothing after university except pursue William and go shopping, and that’s what troubles me. If she had tried to DO something for herself, to make something of herself rather than William’s wife, I might be able to admire her. As it is, she comes across as lazy, selfish, and uncaring. No tiara or amount of supposed “style” and “grace” will change that for me.

      (And those who talk about how classy she is compared to the Kardashians, take note: she did get William’s attention modeling lingerie, remember).

  19. I think feminism is about freedom and choice, not stereotypes and being judgmental according to conventions of the day. And it applies for women and men.

  20. I was hoping you’d explain your dislike of the construct of Kate Middleton, and you gave a very thought-provoking explanation. While I do not dislike her, I do feel sorry for her. She has chosen to live her life in a very small but very visible fish bowl. You’re right that many of her choices due to her marriage will be based on a very narrow, very correct protocol. I wonder if she ever regrets becoming part of The Royal Family, or if her marriage is enough to make it all worthwhile.

    1. I wish her all the best. Taking issue with a public persona doesn’t give one license to wish them unhappiness:).

  21. Unlike a self-made celebrity, Kate Middleton was required to morph herself into a pre-determined role when she decided to marry a future king. As a feminist, I agree that her “princess” role (because she is really just a duchess) doesn’t have much to do with how women live their lives today. But, in my opinion, redefining her role and image would be a political decision and have nothing to do with Ms. Middleton’s personal predilections.

    Both Britain and Canada have a parliamentary system of government and have chosen to retain a constitutional monarchy to act as the ceremonial head of state. The duties of the royals are largely symbolic: cutting ribbons, making appropriate speeches, listening to others make speeches, supporting worthwhile causes, and so on. In other words, we ask them to lead an extremely boring life but do it with grace and dignity because we ask them to represent how we would like to think of ourselves as a nation. Personally, I see a value in having a cadre of “experts” presiding over my country’s ceremonial rituals. I’m less confident of turning these rituals over to politicians and their families who may, or may not, perform with the same grace and dignity.

    All this is a roundabout way of saying that I think the Duchess of Cambridge’s behaviour shows that she is quite aware of the “construct” that is required of her as the partner of a future king, and recognizes that her ceremonial and public role is to be subordinate to that of her husband. In private, who knows who calls the shots in the marriage. Her mother-in-law, Diana, the Princess of Wales resisted parts of the ceremonial role that was demanded of her with disastrous results for herself and the image of the royal family.

    The Queen often refers to herself as the head of “the Firm”, because a constitutional monarchy is a component in a political system with defined roles that make the system work. The roles may seem dated and antiquated, but I’m not sure allowing the “employees” to re-write their job descriptions to fit their personal and private choices is such a good idea.

    1. I understand what you are saying, and I believe you’ve put it quite well. In my particular fantasy world, in order to look up to a woman operating within this protocol, she’d have to display a different set of behavior and wear different clothing. It’s the wild admiration that I don’t really understand.

    2. On that point, Lisa, we are in total agreement. KM is working at the job, following the protocols that are part of her role in “the Firm”. The rest of the princess nonsense is fanned by the media and what people want to project onto her image. As far as being a role model for young women, the only “lesson” that she can impart is to reinforce that one’s choices often can constrain one’s options and “having it all” is in the eye of the beholder.

    1. Lisa is anything but old and cranky. She’s just staked a firm position and supported it, and I respect that. Period.

    2. Thanks Flo. I had sent Lewellyn an email explaining that I am considering removing this comment. This commenter uses our forum solely as a way to voice her dislike of me, and it doesn’t seem productive. Before removing the comment, I wanted to give him/her a chance to discuss. I haven’t heard anything back. Since you have responded, I’ll leave the comment here.

      I welcome disagreement. But tedious, continued and often off-topic personal criticism doesn’t seem to add to the discussion quality at all.

    3. Please feel free to remove the comment and its thread, Lisa. I should have known, but I failed to recognize that the comment itself had been penned by a pseudo-celebrity publicity-seeker.

  22. England offered Woman the vote before the U.S. did. I don’t think Kate is going to set us or the Brits back. So much more toothful stuff to worry about.

    1. True. Much more toothful stuff to worry about. I wrote this post only because so many people asked about my feelings after a casual comment I made last Saturday. Ordinarily I don’t make a cause around dislike.

  23. Am I so “old school” that I’d love to be a Princess? Actually I’d love to be an Empress and be a benevolent monarch.

    I guess I’m really out of it, but I’d take being a princess in a minute!

    Guess I’ll be drawn and quartered by the feminists.

    1. I think it’s important not to group “the feminists” together. I suppose I should have made clear my problems with how that term is used too, but seemed too complex to tackle, and pretty much off topic for this blog.

  24. On this one Skye, me thinks the lady protests too much! “Don’t like” doesn’t look good on you.

    1. But really, am I not allowed to dislike anything? Even politely? Not to worry, I don’t intend to repeat. However, it does bear remembering that even the civil amongst us as apt to get annoyed by this, that, or the other. And, if asked, will explain:).

  25. I actually have grown to admire her very much as she seems to have married for love and has been very dignified and graceful during her many royal outings and duties…plus, she likes to shop, cook, doesn’t have any house help for her and hubby at there private abode…sounds very People mag doesn’t it? but it’s truly how I feel, I think she’s done a ‘brilliant’ job…and is a fantastic role model for young princess lovers everywhere.

    I grew up near Disneyland, so the fairytale thing is very near & dear….we didn’t have princess undies, pj’s, or sheet sets then though…such a shame…or was it a blessing?!
    xo J~

    1. They are having their private “normal” time just now, much as the Queen had, it will be vey different and terribly daunting in the years to come.

    2. This article criticizes the construct of Kate Middleton, and yet the things you say you admire her for are equally a part of the construct. She “likes” to cook for her husband? How do we know? Because it was reported in a celebrity magazine or tabloid? This is all part of the constructing of an image that sells, an image based on the superficial and not the meaningful.

  26. As a die hard romantic I have been smitten with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge since the day of their wedding. I have several daughters, daughters-in law, and grand daughters and can only hope that the Duchess would be the role model they gravitate toward as opposed to much of what we see in modern/pop culture today.
    I am guessing that here in the midwest more of us are less progressive in our thought than those on both coasts. Many of us here are still very content to put home and family first and we are proud to share our husbands last names.
    Love your blog Lisa, and I enjoy reading your posts and respect our differing points of view.

    1. Thank you for such a courteous communication of your opinion, and a gracious acknowledgment that one can disagree with respect. Much appreciated.

  27. As an ardent feminist from the Midwest who kept her own name and willfully developed her own progressive thoughts while simultaneously valuing her home and family, I applaud your thoughtful probing of this layered topic of gender, roles, celebrity, aristocracy. Are you sure young princes still have to keep their pants on in public???

  28. This is such a provocative post, I’m commenting again.

    I support a woman using either her “maiden” name or “married” name. Let’s remember she was probably given her father’s name at birth. And that marriage is a historically patriarchal institution. I don’t, however, object to young women participating if that is their choice. It’s difficult to avoid participating and supporting the patriarchy.

    1. The comment about last name was made with tongue-in-cheek. That is clearly a personal choice, for non-princesses. I was referring to those who reminded me that I should no longer call her Kate Middleton. Joke/reference/thematic tie-in too obscure – my apologies.

  29. I find it strange to write a post about someone you “don’t like” when you don’t know the person. I feel like there’s something under this, a backstory that isn’t being told. There’s obviously something about your projection of her that resonates or evokes something in you. Not sure what, as I don’t know you.

    1. But Kathy, you know me more than most. We have exchanged emails, pin comments, etc. Didn’t I explain why I wrote this? Let me try to do so more clearly.

      1. Last week I wanted to congratulate TPP on her great success.
      2. I felt that in all honesty I needed to let people know I don’t share Kate adulation. Not to point them in the wrong direction.
      3. I was asked with more force than I expected why I don’t like Kate.
      4. I explained that it’s not the woman, it’s the avatar, and the adulation.
      5. I explained that the construct of femininity that she portrays in a situation of power rubs me the wrong way.
      6. Certainly there is personal history behind my opinion. There is personal history, or emotional makeup, behind every opinion.
      7. I didn’t want to write a post apologizing at every turn for my thinking. Women apologize too much.
      8. And yes, as I wrote, I knew I was speaking without the requisite nuance. That as such, it’d be provocative. And that some of what I said was tongue-in-cheek.

      So I welcome your disagreement, as always. But I hope the reasons for the post are now clearer.

    2. Lisa, thanks for your thoughtful reply. You’re right, and I do think I know you better than possibly some others. My guess is that (like me -so maybe this is actually my projection) is that I was raised and expected to be correct and demure, and have often wished I had the audacity to do otherwise. Kate’s role strikes me as claustrophobic, because that’s how I’d feel in it. Another British Kate, Kate Moss, is someone who, in spite of myself (cigarettes, drugs, generally wild behavior, along with a great sense of personal style, individuality, a “don’t give a shit” persona) is something in my own fantasy, I wish I had more of. I feel I’ve gone wild if I wear colored finger nail polish. So, perhaps I would have liked to have read how Kate Middleton pushes up against you?

    3. Red fingernail polish, yessss!! You’re reminding me yet again how I wish I’d come out as my niece rather than myself. I am burdened by carefully introjected shoulds, WASP imperatives, indelible confines of good taste, on and on, I feel disoyal somehow if I betray the women who came before me, bizarre. My niece on the other hand roared through Brown U then Boston College, always independent of mind and body, went off to India and is back in USA as an Ayurvedic practitioner, I cannot relate to anything she’s doing or has ever done though I could love her no more thoroughly or deeply. Why am I carrying this conventional tonnage when she appears so completely light and free of it.

      Lisa really said something when she explained why the Kardashians have her respect, moreso than KM. That turned on a lightbulb for me, I get her point better now. The frame through which I view KM is historical mostly, she’s on the threshold of making her historical place in history of that branch of the monarchy, she WILL morph, she WILL suffer, generally I don’t care about her beyond noticing that she has pretty skin, I wish she’d cut her hair some, I didn’t like her wedding dress and I’m glad someone finally got to her about the eyeliner.

      Well done Lisa. You see why everyone adores you so much, even in difficult times you’re accessible and kind.

      1. Well, I have to live up to you guys, don’t I?;). In all seriousness, one of the best parts of blogging has been the way the non-blurt nature of responding to all of your comments has allowed me to discover who I am when I’m not distracted by the sensory overload of in person communication. I owe you all a great deal.

    4. Interesting Flo, as my daughter went to Brown, spent a year living in the Caribbean and is now a Doctor of Chinese Medicine. She is a force of nature, and at times audacious and at times, more conventional – but whatever she does, it’s from her own conviction, which is quite different than how I was at her age. I not only love her more than anything in the world, I admire her tremendously. Sounds like your niece is amazing as well.

    5. “whatever she does, it’s from her own conviction”

      That’s it exactly, you’ve put it perfectly!

      What coincidences these are Kathy. Your daughter, my niece, we salute you…

  30. What a devasting critism.
    A phenomen germans call stutenbissig whose literal translation refers a battle between female horses.

    Participating from a life partners fortune does not mean one is an outonomous feminist.
    Not in the sense Simone de Beauvoir wrote about.

  31. If you have the fortitude, another post on the topic of the construct of femininity in a situation of power would be fascinating to me. Especially if you could discuss women, money and power. How women having their own money might impact their freedom to explore different constructs of femininity? And how making your own money is perhaps different than having inherited money? It seems this ties in with the subjects you write about but maybe I’m wrong. Anyway – thanks for making me think.

  32. When I think of Kate Middleton, which isn’t often, I’m glad that she at least seems to be more of an equal to Prince William than Diana Spencer was to Prince Charles. Same age, college educated, seem happy with each other…those are good things that Princess Diana never had going for her. I’m also glad that should they have daughters, they will be in line for the throne in their own right.

    That said, Danica Patrick and Johanna Long (female NASCAR drivers) are my idea of princesses. I would much rather see little girls want to become them (or the nice lady who handles the big cats at their local zoo, or Secretary of State, or….) than Kate Middleton.

  33. I cant imagine anything worse than being a princess. I would never burden myself like that but she has gone willingly to the slaughter, I hope she has the mettle for it, as a commoner she has been brought up without a sense of duty.

    I too would much prefer Dirty Harry to boring Wills.

  34. Oh but I loathe the fawning over “princesses” if I had daughters I would want them to be able to support themselves, to have passion for a job or a cause and not just be a frothy appendage to a man.

  35. Kathy; I was quite rebellious and a bit wild when I was young ( for my tribe that is ) I do actually wish I had gotten married in my early 20’s and had a family and been a housewife but then as a Gemini I am full of contradictions.

  36. fascinating discussion! i am not a super duper fan of her style just because she has to play into the conservative image thrust upon her, but i do love her incredible poise under immense pressure. i think she and her sister are both very savvy modern women, and that’s something to admire.

  37. I will say one more extremely important thing on this subject – she has definitely turned me off nude pumps forever.

    1. Now that is really funny. You’re right. Maybe we should discuss how we never want to see those shoes again! Start a movement against them.

      Lisa, you’ve really started something here.

      Love all the back and forth, too and fro.

  38. New commenter; neutral on KM.

    What bothers me as I read through the comments on this post is that Lisa is being thrown under the bus for expressing (without any vitriol–she only said she didn’t like KM “much”) an opinion. This discomfits me because it seems to underscore the idea that women should “be nice” (read: not say anything that someone might disagree with) rather than be authentic or individual. Surely this is as disempowering as anything KM might experience or model?

    Respect in any discussion is key, and I have never found Lisa to be disrespectful.

    1. Agreed.
      Isn´t there supposed to be freedom of speech in the USA?
      Lisa is privileged to her opinions and without explanations!!
      Don´t you women have more important things to think and discuss about right now, with The President Election just around the corner???

  39. Missy. You are a hoot! First, I will come clean. I do have hair envy issues with her. Love the ‘Bad Harry’ too, but really what is so bad and why does that shock people so? Single. Private Party. Young. He just looked so venerable and lonely standing there with his, uh, crown (family) jewels on the cover of the tabloid. So trusting no one would take his photo and sell out. I actually felt sorry for him, perhaps maternal.

    I wish more adulation and ‘worship’ was given to those inventors and scientists who work long and hard to make our lives easier and more enjoyable.

    The status given to anyone in the celebrity world we have created I just can’t understand. Millions upon millions for a few month’s work filming a movie or running down a field. But I guess that’s a different topic?

    Have a great week, my friend.

  40. Hi there,

    I can see your point, Lisa. I didn’t like it much when she was ‘Waity Katie’, not working just hanging about waiting to to get married. I thought after Uni she should have had a bit more of a career.

    However, I think she’s been coping with the very heavy burden of her role with almost flawless grace (almost ‘cos I don’t think she should have sunbathed topless). She’s been pretty much universally lauded in the UK and New Zealand (I’m from the latter, living in the former).

    Harry’s long term girlfriend is said to have called it off with him ‘cos she couldn’t face being a royal wife. It’s said the William was very keen that Katherine was very clear on what she was getting into (after how it affected his mother) and also that she had enough maturity to cope.

    Certainly the two of them are brilliant ambassadors for the UK and have added a lot to a glorious year or so (Royal wedding, Jubilee, Olympics).

    Anyway, thanks for sharing your opinion and opening an interesting discussion!

    1. I realize that this comment is quite old, but Eleanorjane’s point about KM not doing anything is exactly what I take issue with. However, I fail to see how she’s really advancing the UK now. What ambassadorial role has she played? She’s dressed up and looked nice now and then. She’s asked a pretty inane question or two on engagements (look up her comments from Fortnum and Mason for a good example). If this is really the only standard to which we hold a female in a supposed position of influence, we have not come very far at all.

  41. One can only imagine these comments had Lisa posted she ‘doesn’t like’ either Mr. Obama or Mr. Romney!
    You probably don’t want to really go there METTE!

  42. Isn’t there a disconnect between liking Elizabeth and not liking Kate? Aren’t the constructs of queen greater than the constructs of princess? I have to wonder if you felt the about Diana?

    I think you’re dismissing Kate before she’s had an ample opportunity to show the world what she’s made of. And that dismissal of a woman simply because she became a princess surely is not feminist.

  43. Ha! My sister and I had quite an argument over this. She also kind of fell asleep contemplating KM’s wedding dress. She also felt the duchess should have been more extravagant and was disappointed.

    My feelings were quite different. I was incredibly glad that she did not make a show of herself. I’m tired of all the narcissism around. Maybe she has a crazy spark somewhere, maybe it will manifest later. If not, simple kindness and a genuine rapport with the people is a great thing in her position.

    The big achievement of all the young European royals lies in having stood by their non-aristocratic partners and having good marriages. All that in the face of a parent generation that did not do too well in that department in many cases. I would see that as progress – or is it conservative? Or both?

    I actually think KM and William are both ok, doing their job, and I can go about mine. Her deference is, I think, due to her husband’s position and not a gender thing (see Prince Philip, as noted).

    Do you know how your daughter thinks about this?

  44. As a Canadian, i am very interested in learning how many of the people of the US would characterize their own adoration and worship of Michelle Obama. In my observation, that is the same as Kate. Michelle is older and had a career but since her husband ran for President and especially after the inauguration, she has adjusted herself so that her persona, presentation, her missions , her public appearances, numerous covers on popular magazines, TV shows and her books all have one clear purpose: to reinforce the preferred public image of her husband.

  45. Oh, I adore this post. Announcing a position, defending said position, and doing so with grace: that’s worth idolizing in my book.

    1. I concur, the US media and the parties are using both these women in the same way. And these women are participating big time in it. We still have a long way to go in the search for our own identities.

    2. Now that you mention it, I too see similarities between KM and AnnRomney.

      I’ll say this Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, and Michelle Obama could all clearly have had productive lovely lives full of personal achievement and delightful daughters with most any well-chosen spouse.

      KM and AnnRomney’s achievements will be and/or a direct result of what their husbands and institutions fund and allow.

      The Duchess of Cambridge is still somewhat young and a bit immature from what I’ve seen in the media. Her depth and grit remains to be seen.

  46. I don’t mind Kate Middleton – I don’t know her other than to say she is pretty – but I would be very, very disappointed if my daughter took her as a role model rather than someone like Hillary Clinton (who, by the way, derived her initial public role from her husband’s success, but I like to think she would have found her way regardless.)

  47. I believe Kate is a modern woman. However, she married into an old and very traditional institution with very old fashioned rules. The royal family refers to itself as “The Firm” so that tells you something about it’s expectations about it’s members.
    The Duchess, for better or worse, now lives in a cage. It’s a gilded cage to be sure, but still a cage.

  48. My feelings on “Kate Middleton” {referring to public persona} aside, I loved this post and your reply to a comment above when you said “women apologize too much.” As much as I love this blogging community, I feel like we rarely have any thought-provoking conversation {I’m guilty of this as well} because we {meaning women-bloggers} are SO AFRAID of offending or upsetting anyone. It is perfectly 100% A-OK to not like someone’s public image. I love that most of the comments of here are just respectful reactions. It’s nice to know that we can have a civilized conversation that revolves around differing opinions. No one should have to apologize just because they view something differently. Bravo!

    1. Second Sarah. This has caused me to stop reading lots of blogs I used to find interesting, and why I really don’t want one of my own.

    2. 3rd Sarah – in the German speaking blogosphere, any disagreeing is a no-go and you will be punished!
      I prefer the English speaking blogosphere over the German speaking for that reason: the right to discuss and disagree.

  49. Sophia Rhys-Jones aka the Countess of Wessex,married to Edward the Queens fourth child would have been her best mentor….from the same background as Catherine.
    A woman of the nineties she had a career in PR,and went on to run her own company for 5 yrs.

    Sophia is a beautiful elegant woman,genuine warmth with people which was noticeable from early on.

    I do not care for Catherine in that nothing seems genuine about her,so easy to gush over babies/the elderly…still if William is happy to leave her enjoying all the publicity,he is happy to do a job out of public gaze…..though one wonders if she will demands he returns to live the gilded cage life in London.I hope he will follow his own dreams while he can.

    Wise words from Mette maybe all should return to focusing on the USA elections….Ida

  50. I think one of the earlier commenters said something about the military and posing for photos wearing a uniform.

    I hope this doesn’t seem totally irrelevant, but Princess Anne, who has the designation of Princess Royale, wore her Royal Navy uniform as she marched with the males of “the firm” behind the Queen Mother’s casket.

    I wonder if Princess Anne considers herself a feminist.

  51. I’m not sure I totally follow you here (says the avowed K. Middleton *and* Privilege fangirl), but I did enjoy your deconstruction of a celebrity’s “avatar” vs. the celeb herself. Exactly so.

  52. I like this post, but then I’m a republican (the British kind not the US/Romney variety)and hence not a huge fan of Kate Middleton or the Royal Family. Totally agree with you on the avatar phenomenon, I find the whole idea of a fairytale princess regressive.

  53. FWIW, it has taken me a lifetime to force myself away from projecting information onto avatars, magazine cover celebrities, the whole lot of them, people who exist not in the flesh, but via media profiles/photographs. It’s very hard to do, I slip up often. I know this is really my own ego granting celebrity caricatures what I’d want them to grant me in return. Like so: I catch sight of myself in a shopfront window walking down the sidewalk, I speak to my reflection: “You really do look homeless today, dear” to which I reply “Yes, but might they simply think I’m pleasingly eccentric?” to which: “Well, yes, they might think that, but only if they’re generous.” Being generous, my new mantra. Let me test it:

    The English-Queen-in-waiting Kate reminds me so much of the Spanish-Queen-in-waiting Letizia, both walk on commoners, both so very thin, both teetering in those nude platform stilettoes, all dressed up all the time. Do they get to hold their own hair dryer in their own bathroom. Do the husbands choose what they’ll wear. A full mandatory must-show schedule every day, night. Is the thought of leaving the house on a personal errand too complicated to consider. Panty hose. How long is it going to take the media to set up a fashion-face-off between these two, it won’t be long, and it won’t be nice. Is there anyone more shallow than Gwyneth Paltrow. OOPS!

  54. Wow! I have come back to this post, and I haven’t read the comments, which may be edifying and answer my questions but then again I fear I may become inescapably mired down.

    The issue seems not not to be Kate herself, whom you admit you do not know, but the fact that she is adored for being a princess which rankles? If I am on the right track I would say that this was a very articulate and thoughtful post, but perhaps that is because it seems to echo so much the germ of my own thoughts on the subject. I don’t properly understand princess-adoration. I do not begrudge Kate the choices she has made, they are her choices, and truthfully I do not know her, and don’t really think about her either. I can only hope she has made the choices she has made for good reasons and it goes well for her. But I don’t understand how or why some women go all gooey eyed about the thought of her as a princess, which really isn’t about Kate herself as much as it is about some mythical ideal, not so much really about a woman but about a reflection of a prince.

    Perhaps I just don’t get it. I don’t seem to recall ever particularly yearning to be a princess except for dreaming of rescuing hapless princes from their foolish attempts to slay dragons and fight wars, dreams I can date back to very early childhood.

    I shall go read the comments now, which are probably far more intelligent than my own.

    1. My daughter never wanted to be Wendy, only Peter Pan, because he got to rescue things:). I understand that urge for heroism in battle.

  55. I first read this over the weekend, and kept meaning to come back, re-read and comment. Thanks for explaining that, Lisa. I get what you’re saying here. It’s interesting to me how much popular entertainment (TV/movies) right now have fairy tales as their themes. I think the adulation of D of C is more about that part of our culture that connects to fairy tales than anything. We (the at-large “we”) so Want To Believe. Beautiful Princesses and True Love. It’s a heckuva burden but to me she seems to have gone into it with here eyes open. I enjoy a bit of Royal watching from a very “isn’t that quaint?” standpoint. Maybe it’s the hats. (I’ve acquired a grudging admiration for Queen Elizabeth in recent years.) But yeah, I get what you’re saying, and if I had daughters would want to encourage more dynamic and “dragon-slaying” women as role models.

  56. Kate Middleton. Honestly, I don’t think of her very much. But whenever I see anything about her, my first thought is concern. I hope she and her husband are happy. The Kate-worship has a dark side, a kind of malevolent glee at the destruction of an icon that really hasn’t had much outlet because she has managed to live such an impeccable life in public. (Except for the topless bathing incident, but it would appear that public sympathy was mostly on her side there.) It’s there, just waiting. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I imagine that there must be a great deal of love there. That said, she does seem a bit…bland. But then, in twenty or thirty years the British monarchy, if it exists at all, will be a very different institution. Who’s to say she might not follow in the footsteps of, say, Queen Noor?

    I know you were being tongue-in-cheek about the name-change thing. All the same, I have to say that it provides a ready-made opportunity to transform one’s identity, if one so chooses. And when one is very young, that in itself can be an act of feminism and independence.

  57. I may be the only woman brave enough to comment who is not a feminist. I honestly thing that hard core “feminism” has contributed to the break down of the American family. I am all about people doing what makes them happy, in a respectful, responsible way. I am a 53 year old, married for 28 years, with three grown and successful, well adjusted children. Contributing to the nurturing and support of my family was always enough for me. I did exactly what I wanted to do. Once we had our children, nothing ever meant more to me, or competed with the challenge to raise and be available and present to our children. I feel I have been quite privileged to have this option. Bottom line, my husbands earning capacity was far greater than mine. I enjoy the supportive role for my family, and now, my grandchildren. I really believe that Kate is doing exactly what she wants to do. Nothing better than that! I gave/give the best of myself to my friends and family. That said, my children have benefitted from working women and feminists alike. I also feel that the working women/feminists, and indeed everyone, benefits from the women who are raising good children, volunteering in their schools and the community. I do exactly what I want and I wish everyone this privilege! Good topic!

  58. Typing from my phone, so excuse the errors! Oh my! I also wanted to say that I never give Kate Middleton much thought. Good comment from the Canadian about Michelle Obama. As a First Lady, she’s doing her “job” and it sure isn’t practicing law. So, liberal and feminist Michelle is playing the ultimate supporting role of a wife, to her husband. Again, I think she is doing exactly what she wants to do. Btw, I have felt the prejudice about not working; still do on occasion.I also wanted to say that I don’t have any wierd religious reasons why I don’t work or why I am not a feminist. I am just your regular grown-up, soccer mom.

  59. It’s amazing how much controversy one young princess can stir up. As for Kate, I think she is doing a fine job–and yes, “princessing” is a job in many ways. She has learned her craft amazingly well and in a way that pleases the Brits and the monarchy.

    There is also a mix of the modern and the traditional in their relationship (i.e., living together prior to marriage) in contrast to her conforming to the expectations of the British monarchy and the public, as she has gone about learning how to do what she needs to do. I think the prospect of her role as William’s wife would be quite daunting, and there have been many unhappy princesses throughout history.

    The “princess pedestal” has come down a peg or two with the Diana tenure as princess, as she (Diane) seemed to have less stamina and perseverance than Kate does, in spite of her non-commoner origins. I think Kate the commoner is doing very well indeed.

    1. I acknowledge that in reality Kate is technically a Duchess, but as the future queen, she is often thought of as a princess the William’s prince.

  60. Kate is not a princess real or faux.Kate is not a monarchy birth which will not be a princess term or realm to a power of monarchy.Consort to William is Katherine Middleton term.She is not real Dutchess like Wallcae Simpson and holds not rank …….Dutchess Katherine of William (Cambridge ) means she is only ruling her mate not the crown……..Half monarchy children will not be over Hrh Prince Henry of Wales….So title for Katherine Middleton children are beneath Peter Phillips..

  61. Consort Katherine of William is not a future queen,princess or countess.Camilla Bowels,Katherine Middleton and Sophie Rys-Jones will never be princess or Queen of UK.How worthless is this girl bloodlines to think she would equal Late Princess Diana.It’s a joke to hear anying body equate her as the rights of Lady Diana or even Sarah Ferguson.They have full royal bloodline like both parents to them.Kate,Camilla and Sophie are joke to even hope for a title.Monarchy to monarchy will make the next king of Uk.Not William and Katherine Middleton half breed……

  62. Kate is not going to be princess or technically anying title to the crown.She will fadeout in nonroyal to the British throne.William became workingclass marrying Katherine .He will not reign .Charles married wh!@## sin Camilla .He will not reign…..Hrh Prince Henry marry a female monarchy .He will automatically become Km.Henry of UK.As his wife will be Queen of the UK…..THIS WILL BE THE FUTURE ROYALLINE TO KEEP MONARCHY IN TERMS FOR THE FUTURE.NOT WORKINGCLASS(Kate and William) NEGATE THE HOPE OF TITLES.



    1. I MEAN WILL SHE BE SOMETHING,KATE WAS A ALREADY SEXUAL ACTIVE BEFORE MEETING William,SHE DRESS AWFUL ALL DURING THIER DATING,SHE HAS NO VALUE TO MONARCHY .Only TO William AS A SEXUAL PARTNER…WHOM HE MARRIED AND CAN’T MAKE princess…LADY DIANA WAS MONARCHY HER PARENTS WERE MONARCHY.KATES PARENT ARE WORKINGCLASS.Diana grewup near Charles and had royal schooling and rights to Spencer monarchy estate.Kate doesn’t have one ounce of star power .she isn’t well like amoung the royals who won’t meet her..She didn’t have royal s at her wedding .She had celeberties fiting her nonroyal life….

  65. She had 500 guest unlike Diana.Because she is not the next ruling couple.Kate is consort not hrh Tilte…

  66. Simply because the duchess didn’t keep her name, you don’t like her?! Dang. I bet you don’t like a LOT of women. That’s the problem with so many so-called “feminists,” you SHAME other women for not behaving EXACTLY AS YOU WANT THEM TO….well, to me…THAT sounds extremely sexist. She is a modest, respectable woman. There is NO shame in that. I admire her greatly. Why? For her hair or fashion? No. For her poise. For her complete and utter serenity under chaotic circumstances. And you know what? No, I’m NOT a feminist. I AM, however, an egalitarian, a supporter of equal rights. The duchess has as much right to adopt the duke’s name as she does to keep her maiden name. It is her life. Let her live it.

  67. I agree with this post, plus style, clothing, and appearances mean nothing none of that matters unless people see who you really are, being a princess should be about helping people

  68. Interesting article. I don’t like her, think her family to be cartoonish, but I don’t like feeling that way. Maybe I’m irritated by the media coverage and the way she panders to it by only appearing to be someone who is interested in being perfectly coiffed. I don’t have the same reaction to William. It may be time to stop watching the news.

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