The other day I was watching a video of Kate Middleton speaking with a young girl with acute lymphoblastic leukemia who was a part of Kate’s most recent project Hold Still. Kate, of course, had her delightful British accent and that easy-going nature when talking to children that she’s come to be known for. But I was watching all this on an official royal YouTube channel for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge... That part was a little different.
It struck me how reminiscent this step into a newer form of technology and communication was of the revolutionary action that Prince Phillip took decades before. When Prince Phillip first suggested televising Queen Elizabeth II’s 1953 coronation to millions of viewers across Britain, it was a much bolder move than most of us today could imagine it to be. In fact, it was so revolutionary to the way they thought about technology and the monarchy at the time that Winston Churchill felt “it would be unfitting that the whole ceremony…should be presented as if it were a theatrical performance.”
And the queen didn’t disagree! But her husband’s idea grew on her, and, except for one small part, the ceremony was aired on BBC. Truly a testament to Prince Phillip’s ability to see where the monarchy had to go to survive!
Will and Kate’s Vision for a Modern Monarchy
I think Will and Kate share much of the same vision that Prince Phillip had for making the monarchy something that can work in a modern world that lives, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more in the virtual realm. So while some have argued that a YouTube channel is a step too far, I think it’s exactly what the royal family needs.
Prince William has been reported to have said that he has plans to modernize the monarchy when he becomes king and make it more “relatable” than it has been in the past. This YouTube channel looks like a step in that direction.
Will and Kate strike the perfect balance between sharing and maintaining privacy.
The royal family has actually had an official YouTube channel for some time now, but this new YouTube channel exclusively for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge feels to me like a place where they will work to craft their unique voice, something that will be helpful when Prince William’s time to be king eventually comes.
In the age of social media, people really want to see more and more of their favorite celebrities and influencers, which sometimes leads to oversharing and TMI. But the beauty of it is that, so far, the YouTube channel seems to be striking the perfect balance. Will and Kate aren’t walking around with a vlog camera as they eat their lunch, like some have joked about; instead, they’re raising awareness for the initiatives they work on while giving you a deeper look into their personalities. Gone are the days when you only see pictures of the royals — we’re now going to get more opportunities to hear them speaking and interacting with the public and with each other on a regular basis.
More Than Just Technology
But the way Will and Kate have modernized the monarchy goes beyond embracing newer forms of technology. Style has also been a huge part of it. And the royal family has the gorgeous Kate Middleton to thank for that.
Since joining the royal family, Kate has managed to strike that delicate balance between looking classic and in keeping with tradition, while also looking very modern. You could probably even make the argument that she’s the biggest style icon of our time!
Some might be dismissive of the importance of the carefully crafted image Kate has created through the clothes she wears and how she does her hair and makeup. Or even critical of it, if you recall Hilary Mantel’s infamous description of her as “machine-made” and a “shop window mannequin, with no personality of her own, entirely defined by what she wore.”
Kate has become a real credit to Britain, and her personal style is a huge factor in that.
But that grace that gives this image of, well, pretty much perfection to everything Kate does is exactly what has endeared so many people around the world to her. She’s become a role model for so many girls and women for how to dress and carry themselves, and is a real credit to Britain and the royal family.
Kate’s good fashion sense helps to keep the monarchy relevant. Style is such a large aspect of the way that people see us. Dressing well can make people like you more! (Unless that person is Hilary Mantel apparently.)
So when Kate is on the front cover of magazines, it’s a huge help that she knows how to follow all the rules to avoid headlines decrying Impropriety! while still looking modern, which helps keep the royal family admired and not viewed as an outdated institution. Because let’s face it, the celebrities we see on the covers of magazines stay relevant partly because they’re attractive. Think of all the actresses and singers you’ve wanted to look like or emulate over the years. Where Prince Phillip kept the monarchy modern with television, Kate does it with a dress.
The Place for the Royals in Our Modern World
After Harry and Meghan’s attacks on the monarchy and their family, I think many people have asked whether the royal family will be able to survive. After all, their Oprah interview garnered the American press’s golden couple much sympathy. That said, polls have shown that more Britons sided with the queen and the rest of the royal family. And at the end of the day, whether or not some Americans dislike the royal family is a moot point because the monarchy’s fate really lies in the hands of the British public.
Following the Oprah interview, more Britons sided with the queen and the rest of the royal family.
So as of today, it seems like the answer to whether or not the royal family will be able to survive is a resounding yes. And while some may see it as an outdated institution, I think that fails to recognize the importance of tradition and how (from this American girl’s perspective) the royal family is attached to many of the traditions that are uniquely British, and they certainly increase the visibility of those traditions in the rest of the world.
Meghan and Harry can keep their Spotify and Netflix deals. But I think in time the couple that will have the greatest impact will be the one the American media has looked right past. William’s intention to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps as he fights to protect the monarchy and Kate being “machine-made” for the role, as her worst critics have said, will see to that.
I’m not psychic, so I can’t say for sure what will happen to the monarchy in the decades to come. But if as many people in Britain love the royal family, and particularly Will and Kate, as I suspect they do, then I bet Will and Kate’s continued efforts to modernize the institution will succeed in ensuring that it doesn’t go anywhere.
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