Catherine was wearing black in her heart
PUBLISHED: 17:04 19 February 2018 | UPDATED: 11:38 20 February 2018
The Duchess of Cambridge looked wonderful at the BAFTAs on Sunday night. But then, she always does. Looking wonderful is her job. I personally would like to see her do a bit more. Have a bit of a voice.
I wonder sometimes, when she is sitting there, doing her utmost not to have an opinion on anything, if deep down inside she is screaming, ‘I do have a brain as well, you know!’
She has a degree in History of Art from the prestigious University of St Andrews, and, when Prince William becomes King, she will become the most educated queen in our history.
Yet still, if past form is to be observed, she will continue to say nothing.
In this, she has learned from the Queen, rather than from William’s mother, Diana.
There is wisdom in this, no doubt.
There are few women alive who command more respect than our monarch, while Diana continues to divide us.
To me, Diana, flawed though she was (who isn’t?), was also an inspiration, determined to use her considerable power for good in the world.
In many ways, she succeeded.
Aids. Landmines. Homelessness. All were made part of the national agenda because of Diana.
All were matters she stuck her neck out on, not because of duty or even self interest, but because she believed it was the right thing to do.
On Sunday night, at the BAFTAs, the agenda was the Time’s Up movement as almost every woman in the largely celebrity audience dressed in black for sisterly solidarity.
Never let me be accused of jumping on a bandwagon, and few could argue with Best Actress winner Frances McDormand, who took to the stage, resplendent in red and gave a perfectly timed speech, reiterating her support for the sisterhood, while making another point altogether. ‘I’m not good with conformity’.
Her rebellion, completely in keeping with the spirit of her film, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, reiterated that true liberation for women means not that they follow the path that has been decided for them.
It means that they can do whatever the hell they like.
Nonetheless, my mind went on a little journey, over the Kensington Palace walls, into the dressing room of the Duchess of Cambridge on Sunday afternoon.
I saw her there, standing in front of her wardrobe, her hand hovering over a much-loved black dress.
“You can’t wear that,” some faceless person says. “You’re not allowed to make a political statement.”
A photograph of Diana smiles down at her.
“I wasn’t good with conformity either,” it whispers through the halls. “And even though it didn’t work out so well for me in the end, I never let them make me be less than myself.”
Still my imaginary Catherine hesitates. She thinks of her daughter, Charlotte, and all she hopes for her in this world.
The right to have her own mind. To be who she is. To follow the path that is right for her, rather than the one that has been mapped out.
And yet, in the end, Catherine does as she is asked, because the path of least resistance is the one she seems to have chosen.
It is the right thing, she tells herself, as she puts on the gorgeous dark green gown that has been selected for her.
It is what people want and expect.
And yet just at the last minute, she grabs a little black belt, puts it around her waist, smiles quietly to herself for a moment, and, perhaps, I like to think, makes the first step towards showing us that beneath that beautiful face, and perfect hair, and wifely duty, is a mind of her own.
A mind that says, ‘Is it really a political statement to stand beside other women and say, ‘No more!’ to the casual abuses of powerful men?’
Is that really a political statement, or is it just the right thing to do?
Diana would’ve worn black and everyone would have loved her for it. Catherine, I like to think, was wearing black in her heart.
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