Kate may get written notes from the queen


LONDON – One of Princess Diana’s closest friends has warned Kate Middleton she will be stepping into a strange and unfamiliar world when she marries Prince William on Friday.

Jennie Bond, a former BBC royal reporter who became a Diana confidante during the breakup of her marriage to Prince Charles, lifted the lid on one of the monarchy’s quirkier customs by insisting that the queen uses written notes to communicate with her family, even when they are in the same house.

“The royal family does act in an odd way,” Bond told the Daily Mail. “Even in their own palaces, they write to each other. When (Prince) Andrew is at Buckingham Palace, and the queen hears he is there, she’ll send him a note.”

Members of the public might assume that as William’s grandmother the queen and Kate would have spent considerable time in each other’s company, both at events and in private. However, one of the more telling moments of William and Kate’s television interview upon getting engaged was when Kate revealed she had not met the queen until 2008, at the wedding of William’s cousin Peter Phillips.

That was despite having spent most of the previous six years as her grandson’s girlfriend and living with William for a large part of that time. Indeed, an audience with the queen does seem to be somewhat hard to attain, even for those closest to her.

Kate’s parents, Michael and Carole Middleton, had to wait until last week before finally getting to meet the monarch, when they were invited to Buckingham Palace for a pre-wedding tea party and conversation.

The queen is thought to approve of Kate, however, and has generously stumped up around $30 million to cover the cost of the wedding, which will take place at Westminster Abbey on Friday morning and be beamed live around the world including here on Yahoo!.

And despite some of the peculiar customs surrounding the royals, signs are that things are changing for the better. Until her death, Diana made a concerted effort to ensure that William and his brother, Prince Harry, had lives that were as normal as possible, and both have grown up to be typical young men, albeit with a lifestyle most people can scarcely imagine.

Kate will spend the night before the wedding in the Goring, a famous London hotel, before being accompanied to the church by her father the next morning. Her experience may contrast with Diana’s experience at a similar juncture in 1981, when she was taken to Clarence House, ostensibly to meet the Queen Mother but was instead ushered into a room, given dinner, and left to her own devices.

“That’s a sad part of the remoteness of the monarchy,” added Bond. “Diana felt it should be more approachable and accessible. She strove to change it.”

William’s personality and determination to come across as a normal character without an aloof regal air suggests that his mother’s influence on him is felt. There is more open mindedness about the royals these days, even if it may take a couple of generations for things to really loosen up

Incidentally, one of the royal family members who has been of most assistance to Kate is Charles’s second wife, Camilla, Diana’s nemesis and the woman widely blamed for the breakup of her marriage.

That irony may be lost on Kate as she gears up for the big day, but as history shows, finding a friendly face and a sympathetic ear in the royal family is not always an easy task for an outsider.

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