PATRICK JEPHSON: The future Queen Catherine is such a relief after the cringeworthy spectacle of the runaway Sussexes
Happy Mum, Happy Baby is a modest, moving, instructive and altogether life-affirming exploration of young motherhood as told by the most famous – and certainly most significant – young mother in the country.
It’s sometimes said the Monarchy’s greatest strength is that it survives generation after generation, no matter what. Its primary duty is to survive, and its secondary task is to reproduce.
The Duchess of Cambridge has, it seems, effortlessly achieved these two objectives while looking dignified and regal.
Yet here, in her own words, we learn that what appears effortless is only achieved through hard work, sleepless nights and the curse of morning sickness, not to mention periods of anxiety and doubt.
The Duchess of Cambridge gave the tell all interview to the Happy Mum, Happy Baby podcast hosted by Giovanna Fletcher
The future Queen Catherine offers us a cheerful alternative to the cringeworthy spectacle of her brother-in-law and sister-in-law debasing their Royal status in North America.
In the process she has reminded us that the Windsor succession is not just secure, it’s actually flourishing.
So Catherine, whose voice few Brits could claim to know well, achieves added impact with this podcast because we’re not used to hearing her speak.
In an age when everybody seems determined to hog the mike, it’s refreshing to hear her unfamiliar and unrehearsed Middle England voice talking in assured tones about a subject so dear to her heart.
The Duchess calls for us all ‘to find ways in which we can unify people to work together’. Amen to that.
With this project, Catherine resembles her late mother-in-law Princess Diana, who devoted herself to using her profile and influence to draw attention to those at the bottom of the heap.
While Diana identified with those who she felt shared her sense of exclusion from mainstream life, she never forgot her patronages of mother and baby and children’s charities such as Barnardo’s, the Pre-School Playgroups Association and Wellbeing of Women (formerly Birthright).
Catherine, whose voice few Brits could claim to know well, achieves added impact with this podcast because we’re not used to hearing her speak (pictured alongside Prince William with George (bottom left), Charlotte (bottom right) and Louis (in William’s arms)
Diana’s instinctive understanding of what children need to thrive was often what sustained her through the turmoil of her own divorce, leaving a powerful if unintended lesson in gutsy motherhood to the most forgotten yet deserving women in the country.
The demands but also the rewards of motherhood gave her a rare experience of unconditional love, perhaps compensating for its sad absence from much of the rest of her life. Hence her special concern for childless couples, the motivation behind her support for fertility research.
There’s a famous photo of her throwing her arms around the small William and Harry when reunited with them on the Royal Yacht Britannia in Canada in 1991, which perfectly captures the spontaneity of her affection for them.
She was determined that loving hugs should be a natural part of their lives, knowing that formality would inevitably rule much of their time in and out of the public eye.
She knew also that their father was raised in a more restrained tradition in which love – though no less sincere – took a less demonstrative form.
It’s hard to imagine Diana having made a podcast about motherhood but if she had, it might have focused on her experience of reconciling these two very different styles of parenting, and proving a mix of both is possible and necessary given the Royal duty to which her children were born.
Catherine will hopefully never suffer the betrayal and isolation experienced by William’s mother. Instead she has chosen her own way of using her position of privilege to benefit young mothers in need of support.
In this way she is delivering on the expectation all princesses must shoulder and, by making it personal through the 5BigQuestions.org.uk website, she has taken it upon herself to see the project through to a conclusion.
My respect is deepened by Catherine’s repeatedly stated belief that good early years provision helps build national unity. What better message could a future Queen offer mothers and fathers today? The future of the Monarchy is clearly very safe in Middleton hands. Lucky Windsors. Lucky us.
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