Kate ‘absolutely daunted’ by pivotal future role amid calls for her to be the ‘next Diana’

Kate Middleton praised as 'courageous' by Angela Levin

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Kate started planning her approach to royal work and preparing for her future roles of Princess of Wales and Queen Consort from her very first days as a member of the Royal Family. And, a decade ago, she was quite “daunted” by the prospect of one day supporting King William as his consort, according to a close friend.

Referring to Kate’s first years as a Duchess, they told The Sunday Times magazine: “She was absolutely daunted by it and it was overwhelming at times.”

The friend also noted there was an expectation for Kate to become the next Princess Diana and fill the hole her untimely death in 1997 had left in the country and among royal fans.

They said: “Everyone wanted her to be the next Diana — people had this Diana hole they wanted to put her into.

“There was constant ‘what are her [campaigning] issues going to be?’”

The insider claimed the Duke of Cambridge was “protective” and gave Kate enough time to adjust to her new public role and life.

They said: “William was protective in making sure she had time and space to acclimatise to public life and not feel pressured.”

Kate officially joined the Royal Family in April 2011, after marrying Prince William.

The pair didn’t immediately join the Firm as full-time working royals but established their lives as newlyweds in Anglesey, where William worked as an RAF Search & Rescue helicopter pilot.

They later moved to Norfolk, where Prince William took on the role of helicopter pilot at East Anglia Air Ambulance.

He officially gave up this job in the summer of 2017 in order to fully support the Crown, a few weeks before Prince Philip retired from public life.

During her first years as a Duchess, Kate got to work behind the scenes on areas of interest, including addiction, mental health and early years and struck her first patronages.

This background work led to some of the legacy-making projects launched in recent years by the Duchess – including the creation of the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood.

Kate put to use also her passion for photography and art history degree, becoming patrons of some of the most important museums and galleries in the country.

Among them, there is the National Portrait Gallery, with which Kate has collaborated extensively during the years.

In May 2020, the Duchess launched Hold Still, a photography contest inviting people across the country to submit pictures portraying life in Britain during the first lockdown.

The National Portrait Gallery will also include in its permanent collection the three latest portraits released by Kensington Palace to mark the Duchess’ 40th birthday, which fell on Sunday.

The photographs, taken by Paolo Roversi in November at Kew Gardens, will also be included in the ‘Coming Home’ exhibition hosted by the Gallery.

This initiative sees portraits being exhibited in areas close to the subjects’ hearts.

Kate’s photos will be shown in Berkshire, where her parents live, Anglesey, where she first settled down with Prince William, and St Andrews, where she studied and met her husband.

Mr Roversi called taking these pictures a “true honour”.

He added: “I was moved by her warmth and friendly welcome and enchanted by her shining eyes that reflected the loveliness of her soul and her smile showing the generosity of her heart.

“It was a profound and rich experience for me, an unforgettable moment.

“I have met a wonderful person, a person who, with her positive energy, can bring hope to the whole world.”

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