Royal Family: As the monarchy changes, experts say Kate Middleton helped King Charles be more relatable

As 2024 continues to prove challenging for the Royal Family and as we celebrate a year since King Charles’ coronation, experts have discussed the changes the monarchy has seen.

Kate Middleton King Charles relatable monarchy Royal Family
© Karwai Tang / GETTY IMAGES
Kate Middleton King Charles relatable monarchy Royal Family

On 6 May 2023 King Charles III held his coronation at Westminster Abbey in London. For many people, this was the first coronation in their lifetime as the last was Queen Elizabeth II’s in 1953. Coronations are usually a sign of change — a physical representation of the beginning of a new era.

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Many wondered how this was going to unfold. Queen Elizabeth was the nation’s grandmother and her image had turned into something close to an icon. Charles, on the other hand, had a reputation; a messy divorce and an affair.

However, to much surprise, the transition was smooth. Unfortunately, 2024 put an end to this period of calm. In January, health issues were announced and both ended up being more serious than expected. These united two members: the King and the Princess of Wales. These two, who clearly have a close bond, have helped each other deal with the changing winds of the monarchy.

Kate Middleton has helped King Charles be more relatable

The two royals were first seen at the same event in 2006 when Kate and her parents attended Prince William’s graduation from Sandhurst.

Talking about their first meeting in the traditional engagement interview in 2010, Middleton reminisced that meeting Prince William’s father left her feeling ‘nervous’ but that, in the end, it all worked out perfectly. She explained to ITV:

he [then-Prince Charles] was very, very welcoming, very friendly, so it couldn’t have gone easier, really, for me.

Throughout the years, the two grew closer and with the arrival of children, this became even clearer.

On 6 April 2024, Channel 5 aired a new documentary titled Kate and The King: A Special Relationship. In it several royal experts and commentators discussed the evolution of the Princess and monarch’s relationship. On 8 April 2024, Express published an article listing four different instances mentioned in the documentary that show how the Princess of Wales helped King Charles be more relatable. Lauren Welch, writing for the publication, explains:

The 42-year-old is known to have helped the King become more relatable - especially when it comes to his relationship with his grandchildren.

Welch continues and isolates moments when this was the most obvious.

Prince Louis at the Platinum Jubilee

The images travelled around the world: at the event Prince Louis, then aged four, was giving his mother a hard time. In Channel 5’s documentary, The Sun’s royal expert Matt Wilkinson highlights how then-Prince Charles was crucial in calming the small child.

That moment at the Jubilee where I think Kate was having problems with Louis, who is a bit of a handful, and she turned to Charles and he was a calming influence on a very lively young boy.

It is true that once Prince Louis had been sat on his grandfather’s knee he appeared calmer and more focused. Seeing then-Prince Charles this way shifted the outlook people could have on the Royal Family. Indeed, in this instant they were just a normal family with a mother recognising that her child wanted to not remain in his chair and with a grandparent lending a helping hand.

King Charles 70th birthday portrait

Lauren Welch continues and gives space to the words of Judi James, a body language expert who, in the documentary, comments on the second portrait released for the-Prince Charles 70th birthday.

Here, what is most striking isn’t how Prince Louis reaches for his grandfather’s face but how Kate Middleton ‘could be seen allowing Louis to lean forward’. Indeed, this was an official portrait and the circumstance would usually mean that everyone should be on their best behaviour.

James clarifies:

That is absolutely phenomenal because for a formal picture, how did Kate know that Charles would be happy with that. She clearly did because she's smiling, but she's not doing what most of us would be doing [holding the child back]... she knows that Charles would approve of this.

The more relaxed and almost candid picture was clearly favoured by royal fans above the more official looking picture.

She allows him to show emotion

In the third and fourth examples brought forward by Express, it seems like the Princess of Wales has a special way of bringing out Charles’ softer side. Indeed, at Prince Philip’s funeral, the then-Duchess was seen comforting her father-in-law who had just lost his father. India McTaggart, who writes for The Telegraph, pointed out that, over the years, the woman had become ‘more and more tactile’ with the now monarch. This is a clear shift from what we could have seen with Queen Elizabeth.

Finally, the Princess of Wales was behind a very sweet picture of Prince William and his father in 2019 (released in 2020). The two men are outside. Prince William is hugging his father who is resting his head on his son’s shoulder. Here, there is no protocol, they just look like a father and son enjoying a moment together gardening.

How King Charles has made royals look more human

This is a constatation which has been done several times since King Charles ascended the throne: royals now look more human than before.

For some this is not ideal while others highlight that with the lack of young working royals as well as monarchy becoming a rare system, it must find ways to connect to new, less traditional, generations.

In The TelegraphHannah Furness writes about how ‘ something has shifted in the public imagination’ in the past year. The royal editor continues:

[...] with loss – of health, of freedom, of contact with the public – the monarchy has seemingly gained something new. The Royal family are more human than they have ever been.
From hugs to handholding, something has shifted in the public imagination.

Furness adds that now, when the King is greeted on a walkabout, ‘curtseys are swapped for selfies’ and he is less and less addressed as ‘His Majesty’ — rather people just call him ‘Charles’. As Furness explains, there is now ‘familiarity’ where there used to be ‘deference’.

We have explained how the Princess of Wales has helped and encouraged this transition but King Charles has also had a very active role. Indeed, to give a very recent example, the monarch chose transparency concerning his health. Before him, no British monarch had revealed such a diagnosis. On the contrary, the Princess of Wales opted for privacy, a more traditional (yet respectable) choice.

With his health issues Furness says that the King has ‘found a new way to connect with people as equals’. To further her point she quotes a Palace source who says:

He is literally as well as figuratively reaching out to people, happy to embrace them and hold their hand. The more people see of him and her [Camilla], the more they see they are warm and engaging on a human and personal level, in a slightly new way for a monarch.

According to Palace sources this is what we should have always expected from King Charles who, it is true, could have never done what his mother did.

His role as a grandfather has also played a huge role in his desire to connect with people. In 2020, Camilla Tominey wrote in The Telegraph that ‘becoming a grandparent has also helped workaholic Charles to mellow a little’.

A lot has changed since September 2022 and there is a good chance that more change is yet to come. Prince William has already dropped some hints…

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Express: Four times Princess Kate has helped King Charles become more relatable in major shift

Today: King Charles and Kate Middleton’s relationship: Years of affection and support

US Weekly: King Charles III’s Relationship With Daughter-in-Law Kate Middleton Through the Years

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The Telegraph: The King has redefined how we see the Royal family – they are more human than ever before

The Telegraph: How Prince Charles and William became closer than ever

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