Kate Middleton earns coveted new title as popularity soars in US

Americans might have proudly thrown off the yoke of monarchy in 1796, showing the redcoats what for and really poking a sharp stick in the eye of the colonial project, but there was once a Queen in the US. Really.

Queen Lili’uokalani was the last sovereign of Hawai’i until the state’s annexation in 1898.

One hundred and thirty-two years later, are Americans adopting a new Queen?

Not the actual current Queen Camilla.

And not Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, the Los Angeles native who nabbed the heart of a prince only to find herself back in California having to shill baby, shill.

I mean the other one, the woman destined to be the first Queen in British history whom every single one of her subjects has seen in her scanties.

Obviously I’m talking about Kate, the Princes of Wales who, according to polling out this week, reigns supreme in the US of hey … what about that republic business?

Research done by Redfield & Wilton for Newsweek has found that all of the current and former frontline members of House of Windsor, including King Charles, Camilla, Kate, husband Prince William, the Prince of Wales, Meghan and Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex have enjoyed increases in their net popularity (that is, the percentage of people with a favourable view minus the percentage of people with an unfavourable view).

Kate is currently sitting on plus 38, ahead of William on plus 32, Harry on plus 29, Charles on plus 17, Meghan on 15 and Camilla on plus two.

Record scratch. Spit take. Whaaaa ….

The people have spoken.

And while these numbers represent a nice return to firm ground for the Sussexes, who in January this year, after Spare and Netiflx, were sitting on net scores of -7 (Harry) and -13 (Meghan) it’s that Kate number that is the real headliner.

After everything that we have been through in the last 12 months – the claims that Kate was cold and unfriendly towards Meghan; that she had egged Harry on to dress up as a Nazi; that Harry had come home to find Meghan “sobbing” and “on the floor” after a text spat with Kate over bridesmaids dresses; and Kate’s alleged involvement in a race row – after all of that and Kate is … fine.

More than fine in fact. Adored even.

This latest polling was done on December 8th, hot on the heels of the supposedly accidental revelation via the Dutch edition of Endgame that it was King Charles and Kate who had allegedly speculated about the skin colour of the Sussexes’ first baby.

The princess’s naming by Endgame author Omid Scobie, you would have thought, would have seen her support base in the US crumble, the blemish and stain of the accusation of racial bias badly impacting her standing and image.

Instead, the princess’s numbers have only gone up.

There are several ways to interpret Kate’s imperturbable buoyancy.

Maybe the race furore has not impacted her popularity because the Sussexes, thanks to themselves and their orbiting acolytes, are viewed as being foot-stomping also-rans who suffer from incurable cases of pathological self-pity.

Or maybe the Princess of Wales’s position has something to do with the nation itself, a nation in which black Americans are shot by police at a disproportionately higher rate and where a bigoted Cheezel-hued former bankrupt with 91 felony charges has, shudder, a decent chance of reclaiming the White House.

Or maybe it comes down to the simple fact that Americans just like Kate – what she does, what she wears and what she stands for. That the princess just gets on with the job without leaking emotions all over the place. That she raises her children, tries to make the world a better place and wears the hell out of a tiara occasionally, all while refraining from testing the limits of waterproof mascara on the tele and trying to eek out public sympathy.

The US might have developed a bad case of Kate-itis but the feelings would seem to be firmly reciprocated with her and William having spent the recent months staging quite the international push.

Take the Wales family’s Christmas card, which shows the matchy-matchy couple, along with Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, all of them looking like they were posing in a Des Moines mall photo studio. (Everyone say corn dog!)

Previous years have seen the Waleses’ cards really do some heavy leaning into the iconography of bucolic little England, making the couple out to be a bit like Enid Blyton characters who had grown up to discover the wonders of Volvo station wagons and John Lewis’s jumper collection.

Not this time, with the family giving off a distinctly preppy American vibe and looking like they were modelling for a lower budget Ralph Lauren diffusion line.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s sweet and all but it reads like a distinct attempt to appeal to a more global audience.

The same thing is going with the Waleses’ work.

In November Kate put on the first national symposium for Shaping Us, the major campaign launched by her Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, giving the most important speech so far of her career to an auditorium in London packed with academics and experts from the UK and overseas.

At the event, the princess also discussed a recently completed Foundation study that had involved experts from 21 countries.

Consider the collection of capital ‘N’ Names she had gathered for the event, including Sir Tony Blair, Lord William Hague, Professor Jack Shonkoff, director of the Centre on the Developing Child at Harvard and Professor Robert Waldinger, director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development. (Kate’s Early Childhood Foundation joined forces with Harvard’s Centre on the Developing Child last year.)

All of this reflected the princess’s international ambitions, with America an obvious focus.

William, in September, staged a pint-sized whirlwind tour of New York, managing to cram in wading into the Hudson with the Billion Oyster Project, meeting with the President of Ecuador as part of the United Nations General Assembly, visiting a firehouse made famous for its part in responding to the September 11 attacks and taking part in the Earthshot Innovation Summit along with Michael Bloomberg, all in under 48 hours.

The upshot: The Waleses seem to be making a very clear play to grow their global philanthropic footprint and they are succeeding.

With 2023 about three seconds away from being over, in a move few of us would have predicted this time last year, the ‘crowning’ of Kate in the US as the most popular member of the British royal family, and by miles, is done. Dusted. Finito. Kate’s one-woman (one princess?) reconquest of the republic is here.

Daniela Elser is a writer, editor and a royal commentator with more than 15 years’ experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media titles.

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