The palace made a great effort with Kate Middleton, prior to her marriage to Prince William and ever since, helping her to fit in smoothly as a British royal family member. They refused to make the same mistakes they did with Diana. Because of this, Kate's progress as Duchess of Cambridge continues to be managed with huge care. How starkly all this care and consideration compares with what happened to Diana when she arrived in the Royal Family.
Diana was just a mere 20 years old, while Kate was 30. Diana was 12 years younger than Charles and they had very different tastes. Kate, however, is actually a few months older than William and they share everything. Supposedly, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge even share the household shopping. Again, in stark contrast, no one was on hand to advise or teach the very young, and inexperienced, Diana. She had to learn royal protocol from scratch on the job, as Prince Charles failed abysmally to aid Diana in learning the royal ropes.
Not wanting Kate to become another version of Princess Diana, the British royals have engaged in very fine image polishing at the highest level. It is something the Queen firmly believes could not be accomplished by Charles and his advisers at Clarence House, nor by William either, for that matter.
There was astonishment in many royal circles that the Queen and Philip chose Kate to accompany them on a visit to Leicester to launch the 2012 Diamond Jubilee tour of the country, while William was away. They were expected to take Princess Beatrice or her sister Eugenie, both of whom had expressed a deep desire to have a royal role. But the Queen’s private secretary contacted Prince William’s private secretary to say that Her Majesty wanted Kate to go along. There could be no clearer indication that the Royals viewed the new, young Duchess, as the vital ingredient in their future popularity.
Being swept up by the Queen and Philip while her husband was away never happened to Diana. As a result, the young Princess trembled before engagements. Diana was visibly shaking when switching on the Regent Street Christmas lights, at her first solo engagement, back in 1981.
Diana had no guidance whatsoever from Charles, other than when he expressed his irritation — for example, admonishing her for putting on a black dress for an evening function, saying that "black is for funerals."
Instead of encouragement from her husband, Diana bore the brunt of his envy when crowds flocked to her on their first foreign trip to Australia in 1983. To Charles’s chagrin, the crowds groaned when, instead of his glamorous wife, he approached them. William is completely different. He takes delight in his wife’s popularity. ‘He is so protective of her in everything they do,’ says an aide.
Some palace aides revealed they are uncomfortable with the inevitable comparisons which will be made between Diana and Kate. They were said to have regarded as a "big mistake" Kate’s decision to wear to an event, a strapless black dress by Alexander McQueen, due to the fact that it was almost identical to a gown worn by Diana, some 30 years earlier. "The Diana factor is one that has to be watched," claims a royal family friend. "It does trouble the Royal Family."
But, fortunately for the British people, there are aspects of Diana’s approach to her position that seem to be encouraged, such as her increased involvement in charities and her visits to sick children. In that respect, Kate could not follow in the lead of a better young woman than Diana.