Even the duchess of Cambridge must bend - Macleans.ca

Even the duchess of Cambridge must bend

She may be the crown jewel of the Windsor clan, but Kate still has to curtsy to William’s cousins


While her life may seem like a paradise of far-flung travels, generous clothing budgets and polo matches, Catherine, duchess of Cambridge, is still, in some circumstances, a second-tier royal.

Last week, the house of Windsor updated its official protocol; Kate, it stipulates, must now curtsy to “blood princesses” when Prince William, her husband, is not present (when they are together, she retains his status). While she may be a future queen consort, she was still born of common blood.

It all boils down to the so-called “order of precedence”—the royal ranking. There are in fact two rankings: one used when William and Kate are together, another when Kate is alone. The latter “places princesses who were born royal above those who were not,” explains Rafal Heydel-Mankoo, co-editor of Burke’s Peerage & Gentry.

According to the document, a William-less Kate is required to curtsy to Beatrice and Eugenie—the party-hardy twentysomething daughters of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson—as well as Anne, Alexandra, a little-known royal, and even Camilla, Charles’s former mistress, who, as wife of the heir to the throne is ahead of Kate on the female pecking order.

While Windsor enthusiasts on both sides of the Atlantic may be surprised to learn that the duchess is afforded less status than the girls best known outside the royal family for wearing outlandish hats to her wedding, Heydel-Mankoo says that precedence is rarely followed by the younger royals, who interact much more casually than previous generations. “In private, the duchess of Cambridge, and all the family, would curtsy to the Queen, of course, and the duke of Edinburgh because he is the patriarch of the family, but you certainly won’t find younger royals curtsying to each other.”

Though precedence is still maintained at public events, there was a time when it was rigidly enforced even behind palace doors. In the ’50s, he says, the Queen’s cousin-in-law, the duchess of Kent, regularly curtsied to the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret—“but Princess Margaret was a formidable woman,” he explains, “and very particular about these things.” Since then, the rules have become more flexible. Nowadays, you won’t see Alexandra, the Queen’s cousin, curtsying to Beatrice or Eugenie, he says—“that’s just not going to happen.”

Nor will Kate be relegated to a commoner’s place in the royal family. On the contrary, her high profile throughout the Diamond Jubilee is a testament to how serious the Queen is about the new royal’s place within the Windsor family. It’s clear, says Heydel-Mankoo, “that the duchess of Cambridge is about as close to the heart of the monarchy as it is possible to be.”


Even the duchess of Cambridge must bend

  1. all the royal family and their ceremonies are nonsense :)

    • In your uneducated opinion. Which counts for nothing.

    • And the 40 million they bring in (thats net by the way-i deducted how much we spend on them) each year seems like nonsenes to you?

    • Joji, I can appreciate your position, however, over the years I have developed a respect primarily for Queen Elizabeth who has exemplified dignity, a trait seldom exercised anymore in today’s society. She has demonstrated great devotion to a post not of her choosing with the eys of the world eager to judge her performance. Can you imagine how any one of us would do under the same scrutiny? Her family has struggled to honor hers and thier own commitment. I am so delighted for each of thier successes because they have been hard-earned. I inderstand if you can’t appreciate my perspective. All the best!

  2. The senior royals personify 1000+ amazing years of British history –the great and the ghastly. If I were a Brit, it is that I would honor, just as in my country we honor the Office of POTUS, no matter what we think of who occupies it (at least, most of us do).

  3. Why would Kate want to even visit with William’s family if he isn’t with her? Further, once Kate is carrying the next in line to the royal throne in her belly she trumps many of Willam’s family so they will be bowing to the baby, won’t they/

  4. Poor Kate is the Cinderella in this royal pantomime, being ordered to curtsy to the Ugly Sisters. I’ve no doubt that Air Miles Andy, aka Baron Hardup, lobbied the Queen for this piece of nonsense. The frumpish Yorks will have been jealous of Kate, with her poise and natural beauty, Interesting to reflect that the last leader with an obsession for “pure blood” was a certain Adolf Hitler. Chew on that, Queenie!

  5. useless parasites

  6. When the first royal cut their skin and show me blue blood and assure me that they don’t need to visit the loo to pee or to crap, then I might courtsy to them. This is so pathetically ridiculous and Queen Victoria is past and cold in her grave. Royal people, we are in the 21st Century, for heaven’s sake!

  7. I personally love a good article about the royals and their outlandish hats and I hope this Mika Rekai girl writes a lot more articles about them!

  8. brilliant article about the bullshit that is the monarchy. can’t wait until canada cuts the cord.

    • So much hostility…

  9. I wonder how it feels to be a Brit, and to know that your tax dollars were spent on creating this document…

    • Well pretty good considering around 30 million is spent on the royal family each year…..oh wait-they make us 70 million a year NOT including tourism so….you know it feels pretty good to be a brit when it comes to the royal family. We dont pay any attention to them and they give us a better economy, tourism, make us look good and most importantly-a day off work for their wedding and excuses to have parties!

      • Wait so they make seventy million gross, minus thirty million? Or seventy net? Just want to get my facts straight.

        • The Duchess of Cambridge added $1.5 billion to the economy single handedly. The new baby, estimated to add $400 million. So, if you need facts why not start here? You could get the booK Royal family for dummies….might be too advanced.

  10. Well it’s understandable because Princess Beatrice & Eugenie are in line to the throne. 5th & 6th! Prince William is not the crown prince and has no heir yet. So if the first 3 abdicate (or die). The throne passes to the Yorks.

  11. Who really gives a damn about this irrelevent royal family ! Its time for Canada to shed this foreign monarchy.

  12. Aren’t we humans a very funny bunch of butt kissers. I would like it as long as it’s not my butt they’re kissing, then giggling/gossiping/backstabbing afterwards.

  13. Th
    e “Kate effect” added $1.5 billion to the UK’s economy! Know that!