The Kate Middleton Effect

By Jasmine Stevens

Where lights, cameras, and action are the heart of glitz and glam in the United States, thousands of kilometers away in the United Kingdom lies a fancier kind with pomp and circumstance.

Situated in London, England, the British Royal Family is the U.K.’s monarchial government that reigns sovereign over the country and other countries within the Commonwealth.

Though the royal family draws great attention of its public, one family member in particular catches the public’s attention on a global scale: Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge.

The Duchess of Cambridge, formerly known to the world as Kate Middleton, was a British commoner and student studying art history at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland before becoming a member of the royal family.

One of her college peers that would later join her in attendance at St. Andrews would be one with royal status, and her future husband, Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge.

Since William and Kate’s marriage on July 29th, 2011, Kate has captured the world by storm similar to an affinity that followed Princess Diana in the 90s.

According to The Telegraph, an estimated two billion people in every time zone tuned into the royal wedding, with nearly 23 million viewers in the U.S. alone.

Such viewership left Kate to be named as one of the most photographed women in the world, and a global phenomenon that captured the hearts, and pocketbooks of women to replicate her style everywhere.

Mallory Horncastle, a student at New York University, was one of the millions of viewers watching with her family.

Horncastle said watching the royal wedding was a sad time because her grandfather was sick, but also a happy one because her family was all together to watch.

“I remember waking up with my mom, cousins, and aunts to watch the wedding,” Horncastle said. “It was a beautiful anomaly in the midst of family pain, coming together to watch something light and joyful.”

Granted the royal wedding was a historic occasion, such exorbitant viewership of the event begs to question: why do Americans love the royal family and Kate in particular?

Catherine Kuo, an alumna of St. Mary’s College in California, said she loves Kate because of her admirable qualities, but finds her genuine character to be especially great.

“No matter where she is or what she is doing,” said Kuo, “I truly believe that we always see her true colors.”

Jordyn Volk, a public relations major at the University of Oregon, said she loves Kate because she is the story little kids dream about.

“She is Cinderella meeting a lovely prince,” Volk said, “and suddenly turning from a normal person to a princess, or in this case, a duchess.”

Volk said there is nothing fake about Kate, and that she lived a normal life like any regular person.

“She grew up just like us,” Volk said. “Though she obviously doesn’t live a life like us now, she still re-wears old outfits, and does funny things with children, and is probably instilling those same ideas into her own.”

From the outside looking in, some British natives might find it unorthodox for Americans to love the British Royal Family after the American Revolution.

Farah Omotosho, an alumna of University College London, from Buckhurst Hill, England, finds it incredible that Kate has a worldwide fan base.

“I feel a personal affinity to her as she is a part of my royal family,” Omotosho said, “and it is just extraordinary that even those who don’t have a patriotic attachment to her, can still invest so much time into her.”

When asked about whether it was untraditional for some Brits to not love members of the royal family, Omotosho said it is a usual split down the middle.

“I think it’s a natural divide,” Omotosho said. “Those that want a republic resent the royal family for the strain they put on public resources, and ultimately see them as the epitome of inequality.”

Despite the divide, Omotosho represents the sum of Brits who love the royal family.

“For me, the royal family are one of the key things that make me proud to be British,” Omotosho said.

Not only does Kate make her fans feel proud, she has also influenced their lives on many different accords.

Taylor Kennedy, an alumna of American University, said that Kate helped her carry herself confidently in her interactions, and in her self-confidence.

“She reminds me that working hard, speaking out about things you’re passionate for, and staying true to yourself are the most important things you can do for yourself,” Kennedy said.

Kate has also shown Kennedy the necessity of using your influence to enact positive change.

“No matter how small your audience is or what your social capital is,” Kennedy said, “there is always the potential to speak out, educate people on issues you’re passionate about, and inspire others.”

Alumna Kuo said Kate has influenced her life by being someone she can consistently look up to.

“I think her morals, values, and general behavior towards others are in line with my own,” Kuo said.

Kuo also credits Kate’s liberal-minded thoughts and overall compassion as influence in her own life.

“She has an open mind and compassion for human difference,” Kuo said, “and that in itself is especially admirable and something I’m constantly working on myself, and striving to develop.”

Despite Kate having positive influences over her fans’ lives, she faces criticism as a royal which her fans show strength in numbers to stand against.

According to an article by Melanie Bromley, a royal correspondent for E! Online, Will and Kate face much criticism for not carrying out more engagements throughout the year and not fulfilling their royal duties.

Photo from Twitter.

Senior public relations major Volk said most people in general either like Kate, or are just indifferent to her.

“I think that in general, though, people are more critical of the blood family,” Volk said, “and the idea of royalty and monarchy as a whole.”

Kennedy said most of the criticisms she hears about Kate is that she is lazy, wears expensive clothing, or does not contribute to anything.

“Usually, I don’t respond,” Kennedy said, “because most of these comments are from trolls on various social media posts.”

Kennedy said when she hears criticism in conversations, she brings up Kate’s work ethic and work with Heads Together, her mental health campaign initiative.

“I explain that each event takes a lot of prep work on Kate’s part to ensure that she’s informed on the work of the organization,” Kennedy said, “and the background of the people they serve.”

Despite Kate’s criticisms, her fans are rock solid in their admiration and support for the Duchess and are proud to be her fans.

Kenzy Cooper, a journalism major at the University of Iowa, said the best part about being a fan is the community that comes with it.

“The Kate community really is a family no matter how cheesy that sounds,” Cooper said. “It’s helped me be a better person and reach out to more people.”

Volk said being passionate about anything is amazing, and being a fan of Kate’s is something that makes her happy.

“It’s more fun to be passionate about something as random as a duchess in another country,” Volk said, “than to hate on someone for liking something they don’t understand.”

Omotosho hopes that more people will eventually recognize Kate for how great she is.

“She is such an icon,” Omotosho said, “and I honestly feel so grateful to be alive at the same time as her.”

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