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Kate Middleton’s parents trot out to a royal residence: an engagement soon?

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Photo by: MC/AAD/starmaxinc.com  2010  10/23/10 Prince William and Kate Middleton attend a wedding at the St. Peter and St. Paul church in Northleach. (Gloucestershire, England)  Photo via Newscom


Guess what Kate Middleton is doing right now? She’s taking another “holiday” (from doing nothing) with her family. Nothing shocking there - Kate takes about a dozen “holidays” a year. Except that for this holiday, Kate and her folks are spending time at Balmoral (photos here), the private Scottish estate of the Queen - it’s not an official “royal residence” because the British taxpayers don’t have to pay for the upkeep. It’s thousands of acres of solitude, and Kate and her parents have found themselves in the thick of it. This is biggest move the royals have ever come towards publicly “accepting” the Middletons after years of negative rumors. Allegedly, the royal hangers-on, the advisors and such all felt that the Middleton family was simply too middle class to marry into the family. And before this, Kate’s parents were never invited to a royal residence, other than the Prince of Charles’ private home, Highgrove. Once. And Kate and Will have been dating EIGHT YEARS. Ugh. Anyway, The Daily Mail has an epic background story on all of this:


For Carole Middleton and her husband Michael, this was clearly an invitation they couldn’t refuse. Watched by her husband, and assisted by a ghillie who is adjusting the sights of her gun, Mrs Middleton is being shown how to stalk a deer.

The place is the Queen’s Balmoral estate. Their accommodation is Birkhall, the Queen Mother’s charming former home, which now belongs to the Prince of Wales. And their host is Prince William, who is plainly closer than ever to becoming their son-in-law. Kate, the Middletons’ elder daughter – who began going out with the prince when she was 20 – was also there, of course.

She will be 29 in January and her parents can at last begin to believe she’ll be engaged to William – and probably even married – before she is 30.

Significantly, although 28-year-old William has a cottage of his own on the Queen’s Deeside estate, Charles generously offered the grander Birkhall for the visit of Kate’s parents and a handful of other close friends. He also loaned William’s shooting party his personal chauffeur, Tim Williams.

It’s fair to say that Michael Middleton, a former airline despatcher, and ex-air hostess Carole are far from seasoned shots. For them to be invited to Birkhall – lovingly redecorated for Charles by the Duchess of Cornwall – says everything about their daughter’s long haul towards becoming Princess of Wales. If the past eight years have at times been tough for Kate (the paparazzi, a brief separation, the soubriquet ‘Waity Katie’), they have been even harder for her parents.

There have been years of omerta during which Carole Middleton has had to suffer – in silence – the insults and sneers from braying royal sycophants who cannot understand how William has fallen in love with a middle-class girl whose parents are ‘in trade’. Unlike other putative parents-in-law, Carole and Michael cannot indulge in the pleasure of talking to friends and acquaintances about their daughter’s boyfriend – and they certainly cannot wonder out loud why it has taken him so long to propose.

True, Mrs Middleton made a monster faux pas by allowing herself to be seen chewing gum when she attended William’s passing out parade from the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in 2006. But it was nicotine gum. Critics even put it about that when she was presented to the Queen at the passing out parade, she uttered the decidedly non-U greeting ‘Pleased to meet you’ (when she might have said ‘How do you do?’). In fact, at that time the two women did not meet.

At least the oleaginous royal hangers-on have stopped sniggering behind their hands ‘Doors to manual’ when the Middleton women are around, a cheap shot at Carole’s former career. And now, pictured with her husband at Balmoral joining in the country pursuits which are such a crucial element of Royal Family life, she can at last be said to have outlived envious gossip that she was a ‘pushy’ mother and ambitious social climber who sent her beautiful daughter to St Andrews University just because Prince William was going there.

The envy will not stop here, of course. It cannot be denied that the Middletons have profited hugely from their links to the Royal Family. Kate’s younger siblings, James and Pippa, have used their reflected fame to publicise themselves and their businesses, which are related to the online firm, Party Pieces, founded by their parents. James featured in a gushing profile across the glossy pages of Hello! magazine last year. And with admirable marketing finesse, this weekend an interview with Pippa appeared in the Sunday Times’s Style magazine. She invited the paper to meet her in a village pub to talk about the online magazine and catalogue she is launching to flog Party Pieces’ goods.

Carole was also there, apparently on the Dukan Diet (some days, it emerged, lunching on nothing more than prawns and cottage cheese). Could the diet be in anticipation of a wedding, perhaps?

True, they have been to Highgrove, once. But staying at Birkhall is different. It is a very intimate royal residence where houseguests are thrown very much together en famille.

In fact, William and Kate are as good as engaged. An announcement, and a ring, are surely imminent, with a wedding next year. Perhaps because of those early jibes, William has become close to Kate’s parents – and very protective of them. He has holidayed with them in Mustique and sometimes watches television with supper on his lap when staying overnight at their home in the Berkshire commuter village of Bucklebury.

In recent months the prince, who is based at RAF Valley in Anglesey where he is an air-sea rescue helicopter pilot, has been joined by Kate at weekends in his rented white-walled farmhouse. Locals have spotted the couple dashing about on the prince’s Ducati motorbike, dropping into pubs such as the White Eagle at Rhoscolyn. They have also been shopping at the local Tesco in Holyhead. In the farmhouse they look after themselves. There are no domestic staff and they do their own cooking. But they are never completely alone because William’s protection officers are always around.

‘Kate won’t live with William until they’re married,’ says a family friend. ‘That’s why, although it may look odd, she still lives with her parents in Bucklebury.’

Despite all the envy and insults they have faced so far, the portents for Carole and Michael Middleton are surprisingly good. For William is determined to usher in a new era of inclusion, as far as royal in-laws are concerned. The late mother of Captain Mark Phillips – Princess Anne’s first husband – complained bitterly that she and her husband were ‘virtually ignored and never invited to anything’ by the royals once their son had married the Queen’s only daughter.

The same happened to the Spencers, even though Princess Diana’s father had been a former equerry to the Queen and lived on the Sandringham estate. And while the Duchess of York’s father, Major Ron Ferguson, was a popular figure until his death in 2003, he never became close to the Queen even when his daughter’s marriage to Prince Andrew was going well.

William is very aware that his future parents-in-law are stepping into unfamiliar territory. For them it is worse, much worse, than for any other royal in-laws of recent times – because their daughter will one day be Queen. Hence their gentle introduction into his family’s love of country pursuits. Though, looking at the picture, perhaps not so gentle. The normally elegant Carole Middleton looks far from comfortable stretched out on the damp moorland, but then, it’s worth the discomfort for her daughter’s happiness.

[From The Daily Mail]

Personally, I don’t really care that the Middletons are “middle class” or that they don’t share the same aggressively outdoorsy pursuits that the royals seem to adore. Everybody’s different, and I respect the Middletons for making their own wealth, even if they seem to behave like gauche nouveau riche all too often. What bothers me is how Kate has played this relationship, and how she continues to play it. She’s spent the last eight years in a self-imposed exile, not pursuing a career, doing little to no charity work, and allowing her parents and her family to be snubbed and mocked for so long. Also: now Kate even has to deny that she and William are living together! Ugh. Kate is a horrible role model for young women.

LONDON - JUNE 27:  Kate Middleton attends the 46664 concert in celebration of Nelson Mandela's life at Hyde Park on June 27, 2008 in London, England.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

LONDON - JUNE 27:  Kate Middleton attends the 46664 concert in celebration of Nelson Mandela's life at Hyde Park on June 27, 2008 in London, England.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

LONDON - JUNE 27:  Kate Middleton (R) and guest attend the 46664 concert in celebration of Nelson Mandela's life at Hyde Park on June 27, 2008 in London, England.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Photo by: MC/AAD/starmaxinc.com  2010  10/23/10 Prince William and Kate Middleton attend a wedding at the St. Peter and St. Paul church in Northleach. (Gloucestershire, England)  Photo via Newscom

Photo by: MC/AAD/starmaxinc.com  2010  10/23/10 Prince William and Kate Middleton attend a wedding at the St. Peter and St. Paul church in Northleach. (Gloucestershire, England)  Photo via Newscom



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