Quelques temps après l’anniversaire de la mort de la Princesse Diana, tous les regards se tournent vers la nouvelle figure royale : la Duchesse de Cambridge, Kate Middleton. Objets d’une traque médiatique acharnée, ses princesses adulées par le peuple britannique, n’ont pas droit au moindre faux pas. Ces icônes anglaises, inconnues au départ, sont-elles vraiment préparées à une telle couverture médiatique?
Can a princess really be prepared for her royal part? When you enter the royal family, all your smallest deeds and gestures are scrutinized. Kate Middleton learned this lesson from her stepmother Princess Diana, killed in a car accident on the 31st of August 1997. As she was just over nineteen years old, the “People’s Princess” thought she would be prepared for anything, but she soon became disillusioned. During an interview she gave to the BBC in 1995 (one year before her divorce), she admitted she wasn’t quite prepared for this media furore surrounding her character.
That is why the latest royal couple took its time: the time to truly know each other (indeed they waited 9 years before getting married and survived a 3-month breakdown) and above all, to see if Kate could deal with the media pressure and assume a royal position. “She has had a long apprenticeship, because she has been William’s girlfriend, and therefore she knows what she’s going into, she knows what is required, she knows how to behave,” said Dickie Arbiter, former Buckingham Palace official and Sky News Royal Commentator.
Indeed, if a princess’ role is not precisely defined, it remains nevertheless very demanding. She actually embodies the monarchy and thus, she has to convey the best image as possible of her country and the Commonwealth to the other nations. Furthermore, the media pressure today is such that she has to embrace her role full-time. First of all, the media and the British population want Kate to be as involved in British life as her stepmother Princess Diana was. Thus, the Duchess of Cambridge is already taking part in several charitable activities: she is involved in four charities on various subjects such as children’s health or creative arts. She also manages to constantly remain elegant – she was even elected best-dressed woman of the year by the magazine Vanity Fair. Finally, her behaviour is to be as irreproachable as possible in order to avoid any scandal, such as Harry’s escapades in Las Vegas earlier this month. That is maybe one of the reasons why journalists are desperately seeking a weak point, a false move that will make her fall down of her pedestal. And this genuine hunt does not only apply to the royal family: after her divorce, Diana’s love story with Dodi Al-Fayed was still highly publicized and caused a lot of sensation in the tabloids. Therefore, even though her royal marriage was officially over, the former princess was still the target of journalists.
The objects of an increasing media attention and despite a scrupulous control of their image, princesses are likely to make a false move that can turn fatal. Diana paid the price of one of those journalistic stalks on this night of August 1997, as she and Dodi were trying to escape from photographers. This accident is just the culmination of a long conflict between the princess, concerned about protecting her private life, and paparazzis. Her death put privacy laws back in the spotlight. Catherine, the new princess, is also facing privacy issues. For some time now, journalists have kept their eyes squarely focused on her belly, hoping for it to become round and signal the arrival of a highly awaited heir. This overmeditization is also concerning relatives from the royal family. As an example, Pippa Middleton, Kate’s sister, was put under the spotlight when she appeared in her immaculate dress during the wedding ceremony. Nevertheless, the British media decided this week not to publish Kate’s nude photos. Would it be a sign that Princesses’ private life will be more respected in the future?
In the end, even though Catherine seems to be following in Diana’s footsteps, let’s just hope she won’t come to such a tragic end…
Clémentine ROURE, Benjamin BAILLARD & Inès JOLY