They celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary last year and despite being very much in love, Prince William and Kate Middleton have always acted with royal decorum and are rarely spotted indulging in any PDAs.
But while they have previously followed in the Queen’s footsteps and kept their romance notoriously private, fans were delighted earlier this month when the couple were photographed with their arms around each other and kissing at a polo event.
Their affectionate embrace to celebrate William’s team winning the tournament is just the latest in a recent string of public displays of affection by William and Kate, both 40. It also follows on from the soaring popularity of the Duchess and the Cambridge children – Prince George, eight, Princess Charlotte, seven, and four-year-old Prince Louis – after the Jubilee celebrations last month. During a recent trip to a primary school, Prince William showed his down-to-earth character by joking to the crowd, “Can you get my wife out of here before she gets broody?”
And royal expert and author, Duncan Larcombe – who photographed William and Kate’s first ever public kiss on a mountain in Switzerland back in 2004, after they met at University in 2001 – says the pair’s recent PDAs are a sign that the royal family is changing.
He says, “The royal family is changing at breakneck speed after a period of tremendous uncertainty. They’ve weathered the storm with Harry and Meghan’s departure and now the change over from the Queen’s reign to that of Prince Charles is already under way.
“And in turn, William and Kate have also been thrust forward and are making an effort to embrace their new popularity, and to own it in their way.
“The public has grown to adore Kate. Their relationship has always been about William as a person, and not a future king. Now she’s been elevated in a huge way – as a future queen – and the royal family’s different roles are evolving.
“Their PDAs are a big sign of their part in modernising the Royals, and that means letting the public in. We have seen more displays of affection in the last year than the last 10 years put together, especially if you include the affectionate family moments we’ve been let in on, too. It’s all part of the same love story.”
The couple – who were seen jetting off on their summer holiday in a helicopter last week – released a series of loved-up photographs ahead of celebrating a decade of marriage in April last year. Then their tour of Jamaica in March saw the pair gazing lovingly at each other during an evening event, with an onlooker commenting they were “shaking their waists like nobody’s business” during a local dance in Belize.
And Duncan believes it’s no coincidence that their PDAs have ramped up following the departure of Prince Harry, 37, and his wife Meghan Markle, 40, in January 2020, and says William and Kate have “found their freedom”.
While Kate and William kept their blossoming relationship secret for years – even swearing their friends to secrecy when they became flatmates at university – Harry and Meghan’s whirlwind romance was revealed just months after they began dating, with the couple sharing numerous PDAs very shortly afterwards.
Last month, the couple, who now live in their £11 million family home in California, were also photographed kissing at a polo match – a royal tradition started by Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1985.
Duncan adds, “William and Kate have always been a very affectionate couple. That was how Kate was brought up, with hugs and kisses, and William loves that. I think they are finding their freedom without the distraction of Harry and Meghan as working royals.
“If Harry has done nothing else then he has allowed his brother and Kate to become almost the most important senior members of the royal family, and they’re doing incredibly well.”
Meanwhile, Harry and Meghan’s popularity in the UK appears to have plummeted as they continue to monetise their royal titles Stateside.
Harry – who has reportedly pushed back the release date of his “explosive” memoir – gave a rare glimpse into his own battle with mental health last week when he launched a video on “mental fitness” as part of his partnership with mental health coaching app BetterUp, which is reportedly worth £3.9 billion.
And while he has been praised for raising awareness of mental health, Duncan says the palace continues to struggle with Harry’s “unacceptable behaviour” after stepping down as a senior royal.
“Harry and Meghan are royals but they are royals for sale and there’s no getting away from it. In terms of the Palace, that is what is unacceptable about their behaviour. You’re taking one of the most established brands and you’re lining your pockets in the US with it,” he says.
“It’s sad, because he was so loved, and the royal family work together and support each other. He is making a difference to people’s lives, but he was before, and now people are wondering what on earth he is doing earning all of that money.”