Kate Middleton and Prince William are now on the second day of their tour of India, and it’s already clear the trip is going to be a huge cultural and diplomatic success.
They spent the first day of the tour in Mumbai where they played cricket (the national game), visited slums, and laid a wreath of white lilies in memory of the 31 people killed in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, where they were staying.
Last night they were guests of honor at a Bollywood gala charity dinner at the hotel.
Kate, 34, opted for a vibrant red shift dress with peplum detail by Alexander McQueen for the wreath-laying; for the cricket match and tour of Mumbai’s most-deprived areas, Kate changed into a breezy, delicately printed dress by Mumbai-born designer, Anita Dongre, and at the dinner, where she met, among others, Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan, 50, Kate looked fetching in a stunning blue Jenny Packham gown.
This Monday morning the Royal couple were up early, to meet aspiring young tech entrepreneurs at a Mumbai event to which Duchess Kate wore an Emilia Wickstead wool crepe dress (which has already sold out online). Later today they will travel to Delhi, where at 6 a.m. ET, they will lay a wreath at the India Gate war memorial.
As predicted by the Royalist, Kate is the main focus of media attention. It is images of Kate that are dominating front pages and news bulletins in India and around the world today, it is Kate who is being discussed as the new global icon of royalty.
Unlike Diana, who, to put it simply, could not handle the attention and pressure (not that this was her fault—she was 19 when she got engaged to Prince Charles, Kate was 29 when she wed Will) the role of Princess of Wales brought, and all too often appeared to retreat into defensive shyness which manifested itself as narcissism and self-interest, Kate is maturing into a confident, willing, and credible ambassador for all that is best about modern Britain.
Yes, she may be a bit boring, there’s not enough scandal to keep TMZ happy and her clothes choices are all too often more fiftysomething than thirtysomething.
But, as one fashion editor says, “Kate knows what works and she works it. You never see a bad photo of her. That’s just amazing.”
In fact there is now a serious case to argue that Kate is the best thing to happen to the British monarchy, ever. She is certainly proving to be a much better ambassador for the Royals, in India and elsewhere, than the much-loved Princess Diana was.
Princess Diana, perhaps rather cynically, won her place in Indian hearts during her trip to the country in February 1992, when she carefully set up a picture of herself sitting alone on a marble bench in front of the Taj Mahal, the world’s most famous monument to love, which spoke powerfully to her side of the story in what was shortly to become the world’s most famous image of impending marital breakdown.
The photographs taken of a solo Princess Diana outside the soaring structure in Agra encapsulated the bitter betrayal of her husband, Prince Charles.
And, in case there were any doubt, Diana took care to spell it out—telling reporters, “It was a fascinating experience, very healing.”
Asked to elaborate on what she meant by healing, she replied, “Work it out for yourself.”
It did a lot to engender sympathy for Diana, especially in India, but the photos didn’t do too much for Brand Britain.
Kate appears to have a very different attitude. She manages the media not by playing games—but simply by playing along.