How Kate Middleton Is Making Her Own Rules For Her Life as a Royal
There was a time when being a princess involved strengthening the family dynasty by marrying overseas royalty and having as many children as humanly possible, but things are a little different these days. As the Duchess of Cambridge approaches the end of her seventh year as a member of the royal family, her workload is increasing and her path is becoming even clearer, which is not something that's happened casually. With Prince Philip stepping down from public duty at the age of 96 this year, it's clear that the usual retirement age means nothing to the royal family. They all know they need to be mindful of the paths they choose because they will hopefully be following them for a very long time.
Kate has always had strong ideas about the areas she wants to dedicate herself to, and in her her first year of married life, she chose her charity affiliations carefully, doing her own research, attending meetings, and undertaking field visits before her first handful of patronages were announced. She now focuses on the areas she is most passionate and knowledgeable about: art, sports, and children, as well as some new areas for her, including addiction and mental health issues. She is currently patron of over a dozen charities, and most of her annual engagements now involve one or more of them. So what are her passion projects? Let's take a look. . .
Action on Addiction
When Kate was doing her initial research into which key areas she would like to support, her focus was very much on young people, and this led directly to her involvement with Action on Addiction. The charity's chief executive, Nick Barton, said, "She chose us because she had realized that with many problems faced by young people, the trail always led to back to addiction of some sort."
Kate has highlighted the charity's work by visiting the women's only rehabilitation center Hope House, a nonalcoholic bar called The Brink, and the charity's center for addiction treatment studies, as well as making private visits, attending fundraisers, and walking the red carpet for the premiere of A Street Cat Called Bob, a film that helped raise funds for the charity.
The Natural History Museum
Since Kate became patron four years ago, she has been on hand to wave off the museum's iconic dinosaur cast on a country-wide tour and unveil the entry hall's new blue whale skeleton. She has also attended fundraisers, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards, and the premiere of the documentary Natural History Museum Alive 3D. She has also made private after-hours visits with Prince George and Princess Charlotte, and George's first birthday portrait was taken there.
Director of the Natural History Museum Sir Michael Dixon has said of Kate, "She is actually very knowledgeable on the natural world and passionate about oceans . . . . She has been behind the scenes on a number of occasions and talked to some of our researchers and seen quite a lot of our collection areas."
East Anglia Children's Hospices
Since entering royal life, a large chunk of Kate's workload has been dedicated to her work with children's hospices. She is the patron of EACH, whose locations are local to Kate's Norfolk home, and over the years has made private and public visits, recorded PSAs, opened a charity shop in Norfolk, given her first-ever speech at The Treehouse in Suffolk, and hosted a fundraising event at her home, Anmer Hall.
Separately, Kate has also sought out children's hospices on her royal tours and has made visits to some in Malaysia, Australia, and New Zealand.
The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry
The charity was set up in 2009 by William and Harry, and the title was changed to incorporate Kate after she and William married. Moving forward in their royal lives, the trio intend for The Foundation to be their main vehicle for their philanthropic activities, investing in or partnering with assorted organizations.
Their main focuses are young people, conservation, and the armed forces, and one of The Foundation's biggest initiatives is Heads Together, which aims to raise awareness for mental health issues.
Kate has always been sporty — she was on the hockey, tennis, netball, and swimming teams at school — and she bonded with Prince William over their shared loved of running when they first went to university, so it makes sense that several of her charities are sports related. Sportsaid funds young sports-lovers, and Kate has been patron for the past four years. During that time, she has attended workshops and fundraising events, even hosting the charity's 40th anniversary gala at Kensington Palace.
The National Portrait Gallery
The first of Kate's charity patronages to be announced was a no-brainer, as she had studied art history at university. Her passion for photography is also well-documented, and she herself paints — this year, one of her watercolors appeared on the order of service at sister Pippa's wedding.
Since Kate's first engagement to the National Portrait Gallery for a Lucien Freud exhibition, she has returned for other key exhibition launches (including the Vogue exhibition, which tied in with Kate appearing on the centenary issue), for the gallery's annual fundraising dinners, and to unveil her first royal portrait in 2013.
Anna Freud National Centre For Children and Families
Kate has always loved kids, and even before she became a member of the royal family, she was drawn to children's charities. She trained for a dragon boat race during her 2007 breakup with William, which raised money for two children's hospices, and she was also later involved with the Starlight Children's Foundation and the Day Glo Midnight Roller Disco, which raised funds for a children's hospital ward and youth counseling.
The Anna Freud Centre is a charity that works with children and their families with mental health issues, and in addition to making visits to the center, Kate has also gotten the organization involved with the Royal Foundation's Heads Together initiative.
All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club
Kate is a passionate tennis fan, so it's not surprising that when the queen passed on some of her patronages to various members of her family in 2016, Kate took on the one which involved the prestigious Wimbledon tournament. The duchess has attended Wimbledon at least once every year for the past 10 years, except when she was heavily pregnant with Prince George. She is also patron of The Lawn Tennis Association, which promotes tennis through funding training, competitions, and facilities.
The Art Room
Combining her love of art and children, The Art Room is a charity aimed at 5- to 16-year-olds experiencing emotional and behavioral difficulties, offering art as therapy to increase their self-esteem and independence. Kate has visited and opened assorted centers since she first became patron, including the Clore Art Room with artist Grayson Perry. It was at an Art Room engagement in 2012 that Kate first revealed that Lupo was the name of her and William's new puppy.
The Air Cadet Organization
Kate's newest charity is the youth aviation organization sponsored by the Royal Air Force, and she took over the patronage from Prince Philip last year. It's another one with personal ties for the duchess, since husband William is a qualified pilot who flew helicopters professionally for eight years. Last year, Kate and William took Prince George on his first official engagement to The Royal International Air Tattoo, where he got to sit in a helicopter.
The 1851 Trust
Kate learned to sail at an early age and even crewed boats on the English South Coast during her gap year, so her involvement with The 1851 Trust is a natural one. The organization aims to introduce a new generation to the sport of sailing, providing them with skills and training, and is spearheaded by the most successful sailor in Olympic history, Sir Ben Ainslie, whom Kate has developed a friendship with.
100 Women in Finance
The organization supports charities relating to family health, mentoring, and education, and William, Kate, and Harry are all involved. 100 Women in Finance backs many of the royal family's chosen charities, including two of Kate's: Action on Addiction and The Art Room.
Over the years, Kate has attended several of the charity's glamorous fundraisers, including one at Kensington Palace.
Kate's earliest involvement with Place2Be came even before she was a member of the royal family, as the infamous fancy-dress roller disco she hosted in 2008 was held to benefit the charity. Place2Be works in schools, providing early intervention mental health support, and Kate has been to its fundraisers, conferences, and award ceremonies over the years. She also invited children the charity has worked with on one of her Natural History Museum engagements.