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SARAH VINE: Kate, a class act who can be the monarchy’s rock 

As Shakespeare said, some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em.

Prince Philip was in a sense all three, a man born into the Greek royal family yet denied his birthright; someone who had to work hard to carve out his status in life; and a man who ended up, over the course of seven decades by the Queen’s side, earning a unique place in history as the longest-serving consort of any monarch.

The Duke of Edinburgh was not a man who demanded recognition by right; he went out there and damn well earned it. He understood that titles alone do not make a man a true prince. Yes, he may in his pomp have been the dashing, debonair Duke with a thirst for excitement and a modernising mission; but there was always substance behind the gloss, a real determination to see things through and prove his worth.

At Saturday’s funeral the Duchess of Cambridge exceeded even her own high standards. It wasn’t just her poise and style, it was also the way she showed herself to be a beacon of light in the darkest of hours

Arriving in Windsor, she was captured looking directly into the camera, her gaze steady and serious, her demeanour sombre yet impeccably stylish. Calm, confident and self-composed, she conducted herself, as she always does, with impeccable grace

Arriving in Windsor, she was captured looking directly into the camera, her gaze steady and serious, her demeanour sombre yet impeccably stylish. Calm, confident and self-composed, she conducted herself, as she always does, with impeccable grace 

Yet he always seemed to wear his achievements so lightly. Saturday’s funeral, so moving in its simplicity, exemplified this sentiment.

Devised in detail by the Duke himself, it managed to convey all the moment of a great state occasion without being pompous or self-aggrandising. It was as much a celebration of the man as an honouring of the institution — and the woman — he served.

   

More from Sarah Vine for the Daily Mail…

In death, as in life, the Duke acknowledged his dedication to duty while remaining true to his own identity.

Such strength of character and clarity is increasingly rare in this day and age, which is one of the many reasons why he will be so sorely missed.

But the British Royal Family is lucky. For despite decades of marital strife, misjudgment and general misfortune, there is one within their ranks who seems ready to take on his mantle, another royal consort with the intelligence and vision to see beyond their own immediate needs, and to recognise the bigger picture: the Duchess of Cambridge.

That slim-hipped, fresh-faced Home Counties girl who caught Prince William’s eye at St Andrews University 20 years ago has matured into a wise and capable woman, a dedicated and level-headed wife and mother, a beacon of style and elegance, an accomplished public speaker — and someone who emanates an aura of calm capability that seems to envelop everyone in its forcefield.

Never was this more in evidence than on Saturday afternoon.

Arriving in Windsor, she was captured looking directly into the camera, her gaze steady and serious, her demeanour sombre yet impeccably stylish. Calm, confident and self-composed, she conducted herself, as she always does, with impeccable grace.

That the Duchess is such a class act is, of course, nothing new. Over the course of the past few years, and in particular during the pandemic, she has rarely put a foot wrong. She exudes just the right mixture of warmth and discretion, sharing unguarded glimpses of life as a royal wife without exposing herself, or her family, more than is right or necessary.

But at Saturday’s funeral she exceeded even her own high standards. It wasn’t just her poise and style, it was also the way she showed herself to be a beacon of light in the darkest of hours.

Her kindness and sense of duty shone through in her determination to set aside any sense of personal resentment she may have felt about Prince Harry, Meghan and that interview, which had cast her in such a negative light; to do what was best for her husband, his family and ultimately the nation, and smooth the path to reconciliation between the brothers.

That the Duchess is such a class act is, of course, nothing new. Over the course of the past few years, and in particular during the pandemic, she has rarely put a foot wrong. She exudes just the right mixture of warmth and discretion, sharing unguarded glimpses of life as a royal wife without exposing herself, or her family, more than is right or necessary

That the Duchess is such a class act is, of course, nothing new. Over the course of the past few years, and in particular during the pandemic, she has rarely put a foot wrong. She exudes just the right mixture of warmth and discretion, sharing unguarded glimpses of life as a royal wife without exposing herself, or her family, more than is right or necessary

Let’s face it, she would have been perfectly entitled to give Harry a wide berth. Not just because of what the Duchess of Sussex said in the Oprah interview about it being Kate who had made her cry, not the other way round, in the run-up to the Sussexes’ wedding; but also because the whole thing has been so deeply upsetting for William.

It is William who has felt the sting of brotherly betrayal and the fury of being unjustly cast as part of a racist, bullying family. The Duchess of Cambridge might easily have felt that any kind of reconciliation or rapprochement at this stage would be premature.

But instead of shrinking from the challenge, she met it head-on as they were walking after the funeral up to the castle.

The Duke of Edinburgh was not a man who demanded recognition by right; he went out there and damn well earned it

The Duke of Edinburgh was not a man who demanded recognition by right; he went out there and damn well earned it

Knowing, perhaps, that with the world’s cameras on the three of them the brothers would be less likely to make a spectacle, she extended the hand of friendship to Harry and drew him into conversation.

Whatever her own feelings about what was said about her in the interview, she put them aside for the sake of the greater good: an opportunity to turn what was a deeply sad occasion into one, perhaps, tinged with hope. And she did it with such effortless charm and generosity of spirit.

Who knows whether Harry and William’s exchange will go any way towards beginning to bridge the gap between them; but God love Kate for giving it a go. For seeing the bigger picture and putting their happiness ahead of her own satisfaction.

Who knows whether Harry and William¿s exchange will go any way towards beginning to bridge the gap between them; but God love Kate for giving it a go. For seeing the bigger picture and putting their happiness ahead of her own satisfaction

Who knows whether Harry and William’s exchange will go any way towards beginning to bridge the gap between them; but God love Kate for giving it a go. For seeing the bigger picture and putting their happiness ahead of her own satisfaction

And what a stark contrast, it must be said, to that other royal consort, out in sunny Santa Barbara, always so quick to take offence, always so keen to be cast as the victim.

Well, she can say whatever she likes: the quiet sincerity of the Duchess of Cambridge’s good heart is all the truth we need to know.

Because Kate understands, as the Duke of Edinburgh did before her, that being a consort in the British Royal Family may be a long, hard road to walk — but that if you take it slowly and one step at a time, and show yourself to be a calm and wise voice of sanity, you can be the rock on which a great and much-loved institution stands firm.


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