“This isn’t a race,” she shouts, laughing. Your eyes sparkle. Princess Kate is lagging behind – and despite all the fun, she doesn’t seem to like it. William will probably be back on solid ground before her. The Prince and Princess of Wales are known for their competitive spirit, especially when it comes to each other. In these moments, the 41-year-old looks real. But that’s not always the case.

I admit: I was never a Kate fan. Conservative style, reserved nature, (apparently) no opinion of my own – all of this seemed to me to have fallen out of time. I imagine a modern royal lady like Queen Máxima of the Netherlands or Queen Letizia of Spain: strong opinions, sovereign in front of the camera, clear agenda. Kate is perfect, but perfection is boring.

Kate, the first official Princess of Wales since her mother-in-law Diana, has performed flawlessly in the past. She is approachable, serious and empathetic. But never too curious or even activist. Public speeches are rare from the mother of three. Interviews even rarer. It is above all Prince William who is the couple’s mouthpiece. Kate stands by his side, smiles, is silent. If she weren’t moving, she’d be a pretty statue.

But there are also breaks in the perfect façade. Because Kate is one thing above all: Mom. When she shows up with her three children, the private side of the glamorous duchess is revealed. She is funny, spontaneous, but also strict. When little baby Louis runs away on the sidelines of a polo tournament, she runs after him. Prince George, on the other hand, gets a lecture when he jokes around at his aunt Pippa’s wedding. But in the “profession” the millionaire’s daughter hesitates for a long time.

For a few years it has not been clear which topics the Princess of Wales will take on. It is said by many British Royal experts that they wanted to inform themselves in peace and in depth. The election that will determine their future in the royal family is too important. She chooses to destigmatize mental health issues and early childhood development.

Your commitment – even if it comes straight from the heart – initially remains reserved and distant. And then comes the motor Meghan Markle. In summary, it can be said that Prince Harry’s wife has brought some movement into the dusty monarchy. Also in Kate.

The “competition” makes them bolder. In 2019 she gave her first TV interview after getting engaged nine years (!) before. On the last day of her trip to Pakistan with William, she talks to CNN reporter Max Foster about the SOS Children’s Villages there. Nervous, but resolute. She positions her affair of the heart in the public consciousness.

Speaking in front of the camera will probably no longer be the favorite task of the attractive brunette. But she dares more, has realized – not only through Meghan – that the media and dealing with them confidently are part of the royal appearance today.

Kate shows shrewdness in taking the time to carefully select and prepare her projects, despite initial criticism that she works too little. Now it’s paying off, because their commitment to the “Early Years” initiative is long-term and should have a real impact. She will raise Kate’s profile as she follows in the footsteps of the mother-in-law she never met in the decade to come. Kate and William continue to commemorate his late mother, but with sensitivity and much respect. And above all: without putting pressure on Kate to have to compete with Diana.

It’s admirable how the introverted Kate has grown with her responsibilities. The support of William and her family should not be underestimated. The Prince knows the royal circus, the media game, and the privileges and limitations that come with royal life. The Middletons, in turn, offer their eldest daughter a sanctuary far from the palace walls.

Yes, Kate will never be a flamboyant and extraverted woman. My changed opinion of her is certainly also related to the fact that she feels more and more comfortable at big events and in front of the cameras. After 12 years of royal existence, the future queen has arrived. Calm, well prepared and charming. Maybe that’s exactly right.