The Duchess of Cambridge’s mother will probably prove to be one of the most influential people in the royal baby’s life.
Note: This article is from the Guardian.
In April 2007, after Prince William and Kate Middleton broke up in what was to prove only a brief separation, a Sunday tabloid published a profile of the unhappy young woman’s mother, Carole. “Meddling Middleton”, as the article’s writer called her, was a “ferocious” social climber whose humble origins had been mocked by William’s friends and who didn’t know how to address the Queen. What ridiculous cheek to imagine she could marry her daughter into royalty.
Six perfectly discreet years later, the daughter of a part-time lorry driver from Southall in west London became the grandmother of the future king of the UK and the Commonwealth.
Given the close relationship between the Duchess of Cambridge and her mother, Carole Middleton, 58, (pictured right, with her husband), will probably prove to be one of the most influential people in the baby’s life. Historically, the responsibility for the care of a newborn heir to the throne would be claimed almost exclusively by the royal family. With William returning to work in Anglesey once his paternity leave has finished, however, and the couple’s apartment at Kensington Palace still unfinished, the new mother reportedly plans to spend the first few weeks of the baby’s life at her parents’ house in Berkshire. What kind of grandmother will she make? She is certainly ambitious and industrious, qualities that some have sought to portray as faintly soiling, but could equally be regarded as to her credit. Her first home as a baby was her grandmother’s tiny condemned flat in west London; she became a cabin attendant, married Michael Middleton, a flight dispatcher, and when her third child was a baby, launched a business selling party bags to other mothers in the village where she and her husband had made their home. Party Pieces is now thought to be worth about £30m; with its proceeds the couple expensively educated their children, settled the two younger, Pippa and James, in a Chelsea apartment which they paid for in cash, and recently upgraded their own home to a £4m, 18-acre manor house in Berkshire.
Some who knew her from the school gates have painted Carole Middleton as a kind of tiger mother, whose children were always perfectly turned out – “There was always something slightly galling about having your child at school with the Middletons,” one has said – or suggested that the notion of Kate marrying William was an ambition of her mother long before the couple met.
But since being cast into the spotlight, Carole Middleton has defied the snobbish derision and behaved with almost faultless discretion and good sense.
She may consider her greatest achievement to be the close family that she and her husband of 33 years have built. “The thing that no one seems to get about Carole is how cosy she really is,” one friend told Tatler magazine. “Yes, she looks quite intimidating, but no one could be more family-minded. More of a homebody.”
Given the surreal life that inevitably awaits the royal baby, Middleton’s most valuable role will be to offer him, and any siblings that may come along, just such a stable, devoted but ordinary family life, according to Geraldine Bedell, editor of the grandparenting website Gransnet.
“William and Kate, as far as we can see, do seem to prioritise normal family life very highly, and, by all accounts, they spend a lot of time with the Middletons, having supper around the kitchen table, going on holidays with them,” she said.
“For William, having grown up with all the awfulness of his parents’ relationship and then Diana’s death, I should imagine it’s incredibly refreshing to be with this family, who are essentially a normal middle-class family.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010