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Samantha Turnbull Writer, mother, anti-princess

Kate Middleton

Are royals good role models?

Kate Middleton

I’ve spent the past hour reading about Kate Middleton and it’s numbing my brain.

The truth is, I really don’t have much interest in her. But, here I am, educating myself with such facts as:

– William and Kate are 12th cousins once removed.

– She enjoys tennis.

– She once worked as a part-time accessories buyer for the fashion chain Jigsaw.

– Her parents are multi-millionaires as a result of founding a highly successful mail-order party goods company.

And so on, and so forth.

It’s the somewhat uninspiring story of a privileged girl who mixed in the same upper class circles as a prince. They then fell in love and got married.

So, why am I reading about the now Duchess of Cambridge?

Last night, I posted a link on my Facebook page to a blog post written by someone who says Kate Middleton is no role model for her daughter.

The original post received a lot of comments – many from outraged royalists who view criticism of Kate as akin to blasphemy.

One person on my Facebook page commented that it was “a shallow piece of writing with no regard for Catherine as a person or the work she does.”

I think, though, that perhaps that is precisely the point.

Who knows anything about the ‘real’ Kate? The duchess we see in the media is someone who rarely speaks, often walks two steps behind her husband, and… well… looks beautiful.

The broader public really has no idea who Kate is as a person or even what work she does.

So, what are we basing our opinions on when we and our children decide to look up to her… to aspire to be like her… to want to be a princess?

Her current role, which is a blur between professional and personal, is one that was achieved not through any identifiable talent. She is the Duchess of Cambridge because she married Prince William.

She may be a lovely person, she may be well-mannered, she may be a wonderful mother, she may be intelligent, she may be secretly talented at something amazing. But, we don’t know that.

The fact is, millions would love the life of Kate Middleton because she married well, she is extremely wealthy, and she is beautiful.

If my children were to choose role models with high profiles, I’d prefer for them to look for those whose accomplishments are the result of old-fashioned skill or real hard work. Not luck, social privilege, or marriage.

When Kate appears on your TV screen tonight shaking the hand of a child in hospital, take a look in the background at the doctors and nurses wearing themselves thin, the scientists searching for a cure, the parents continuing to smile while living with the heartache of knowing they could lose their babies… those are the people who will earn my admiration.

6 responses to “Are royals good role models?”

  1. kathy says:

    The same can be said for most celebrity types who are famous from their profession. As a parent though you have no control over who your child chooses as a partner as long as they are loved, equal and treated with respect and kindness.

    • Samantha says:

      There are loads of celebrity-types who are famous because they had a talent or skill that got them where they are… many athletes, actors, writers, musicians. Sure, your Kim Kardashians and Paris Hiltons don’t fall into that category but who on earth would call them great role models?

      I hope my children find loving partners, but I hope they don’t have unrealistic expectations of finding a prince or princess. They weren’t born into an elite enough family for that 😉

  2. Zanni says:

    Thought provoking Sam…I am not that captivated with Kate et al either, and sometimes wonder what’s wrong with me. But I feel like she just falls into the same category as all celebrities, and wonder how truly inspiring this general category is for young children. Or maybe it’s alluring while they are young, and then when they become adult and cynical, the facade wears thin. x

    • Samantha says:

      Yes, many celebrities don’t seem to actually ‘do’ much these days. It’s funny, a lot of the comments on the original blog post were along the lines of “we’ll, I’d rather my daughter look up to Kate Middleton than Kim Kardashian” but don’t people realise there are a gazillion amazing role models in between those extremes? Sigh :)

  3. Adam says:

    Good points Sam. I agree with your sentiment – however there is something really charming about her. And while you’re right that her story seems to be devoid of substance, I still find myself interested in it.

    • Samantha says:

      Yeah look, I’m interested to an extent by anyone who lives a life that could be considered pure fantasy to 99.99999 per cent of the population… But there’s a difference between fascination and inspiration, and I’m not particularly inspired by her, or anyone in a similar position.

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