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The Queen Would Be 97 Today — Here’s What’s Happened for Kate and Will Since Her Passing

What the future holds.


April 21 marks what would have been Queen Elizabeth II’s 97th birthday. Her passing not only shook the world, but shook the royal family. The monarchy has undergone a great deal of change in recent years — specifically with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle choosing to step away from their royal duties, and King Charles III ascending to the throne in the wake of Queen Elizabeth II’s death. That being said, Prince William and Princess Kate are shouldering even more royal responsibilities.

“This is a picture of the monarchy moving forward, but the pressure is really on the Duchess of Cambridge to make the royals move into the future,” said royal expert Camilla Tominey. “Prince William is a star, but it’s been all about Kate lately and she’s considerably raised her game.” With more focus on her, Kate’s doing her best to keep her daily life as normal as possible. And it’s not an easy task.

Kate in the Spotlight

“The added pressure of having cameras everywhere to catch even the slightest eye movement makes everything she does a conscious effort,” royal etiquette expert Myka Meier said. “From the perfectly poised posture to the way she descends a staircase or gets out of a car — it is all carefully done.”

Over their time together, Kate has slowly “emerged from Prince William’s shadow,” Tominey said. She noted that Kate has taken on more charity work and royal projects on her own, without her husband. “She wants to commit her working life to early childhood issues and how it affects adult life.”

Ever since their wedding, William and Kate have been changing and modernizing the system. They’ve tried to humanize the monarchy and make it more touchy-feely. This allows the public to feel as though they’re all part of the same world. It’s very similar to what Princess Diana tried to do. Kate has been spotted fist-bumping children and even joining her husband in taking selfies with fans. This is a move that actually breaks protocol. That said, there are age-old traditions that are important to the couple. Once described as a “reluctant royal,” William has made it clear that he takes his future title “very seriously.” Kate does as well.

Royal Evolution

“The royal family has to modernize and develop as it goes along and it has to stay relevant,” William once said, noting that that’s a “challenge” in his mind. “You’ve got to mix traditional with the modern.”

Luckily, he won’t be doing it alone. When the time comes for William to take the throne, Kate will be crowned as well. She’ll become queen consort in a smaller ceremony on the same day as William’s coronation. (The couple’s eldest child, Prince George, meanwhile, will become heir to the throne and gain the Prince of Wales title.) When she’s crowned, Queen Catherine — there have been five women with the same name and title before her — will become the first queen in the history of the monarchy to have a post-secondary degree.

A Royal Workload

When William and Kate become king and queen consort, they will move into Buckingham Palace. He will take on a bigger workload with his wife by his side. King William V will have to host garden parties, receptions, official state banquets, and visits from overseas dignitaries and British politicians. It will be a punishing workload: in 2018, the late Queen Elizabeth II undertook 293 engagements.

Although Kate is currently a patron of more than 20 organizations (including some that were previously linked to Prince Harry), that number will likely grow immensely with her new title. The late Prince Philip was patron of more than 780 organizations before he stepped back from public engagements in 2017.

In one of the stranger laws regarding the royals, William will own all the whales, dolphins, and sturgeons in the British seas when he becomes sovereign. As queen consort, Kate will own their tails. That’s not all she will inherit. Her “salary” to cover expenses will grow much, much bigger, to about $57 million — almost six times more than what she is currently estimated to be worth.

Kate will also never have to curtsy or bow again after becoming queen consort. Tradition dictates that royal family members should bow to those higher in rank. She currently curtsies upon seeing Charles and Queen Consort Camilla.

Whenever William and Kate do ascend to the throne, it’s clear that the monarchy will be in good hands. As royal expert Ingrid Seward told Fox News in November 2020, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip thought their granddaughter-in-law was “a gem” who “works hard” and brought a “breath of fresh air into the Windsor family.”

A version of this article appeared in our partner magazine Kate.

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