It was a moment of unguarded, exuberantly shared joy. As Sir Chris Hoy pedalled to victory in the velodrome during London’s Olympic Games, neither Prince William nor his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, could hide their excitement and delight.

And neither even bothered to disguise the obvious unbridled love and affection.

She flung her arms around him, clasping her hands possessively  at the nape of his neck. He held  her close, his hands wrapped protectively around her.

This, clearly, was a couple in love. And more than willing to reveal their feelings.

Rarely has a Royal couple exuded such warmth or such tender sentiment and intimacy in public.

Certainly William’s parents, Prince Charles and the late Diana, Princess of Wales, never once hinted at, never mind displayed, such obvious delight in each other, even at the onset of their marriage.

Here was a Prince, a future monarch, who had won his battle to overcome his dysfunctional upbringing and had learned to trust his emotions and find fulfilment; a Prince secure in the knowledge that his wife Kate wanted him, supported him and, most importantly of all, will not waver from her role by his side as he negotiates the tricky path from Prince-in-waiting to the throne itself.

He has cast out the demons that plagued his childhood, as he witnessed the slow, painful demise of his parents’ marriage and endured the burden of being the sole confidant of his charismatic but emotionally fragile mother while barely a teenager himself, and instead learned to trust and love.

In doing so, he has become the likely saviour of the divorce-wrecked Windsors.

He has done it by drawing strength from the solidly aspirational, close-knit Middletons, upon whom he is clearly building his own stable private life.

He has not only revitalised the Royal Family, breathing new life into it, but more significantly, by watching and learning the rudiments of a secure family life from his in-laws, he is on course to become a monarch who embraces rather than scorns middle-class values.

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Bringing change: William, with Princess Diana and Prince Charles in 1982, is set to bring a whole new era to the Windsor family

Bringing change: William, with Princess Diana and Prince Charles in 1982, is set to bring a whole new era to the Windsor family

It was the young Diana who initially showed William an alternative lifestyle, something for which she deserves full credit.

She was always determined to stretch his experience beyond that of most Royal children and give him the opportunity and encouragement to observe how people outside Royal and aristocratic circles behaved.

She took him to Selfridges, the central London department store, to meet Father Christmas.

Instead of going straight to the front, or arranging a private meeting, she made him stand in a queue with the public.

William, a toddler at the time, wouldn’t have grasped her broader intent but perhaps it sowed the seeds that an ordinary life was worth seeking.

Diana loved being a mother and spending time with her sons – playing, reading and being around at bath time.

As William and Harry grew, she made an effort to take them to nursery school, and she and Charles tried to turn up for school concerts and sports day. It is what normal parents do. But for the Royal Family, it was unprecedented.

Stability: Michael and Carole Middleton's stable relationship are an inspiration for William

Stability: Michael and Carole Middleton’s stable relationship are an inspiration for William

It was during the long and painful demise of the marriage that Diana, doubtless unconsciously, leaned heavily – far too heavily – on her elder son as an emotional crutch.

During this time William switched from being a much-loved little boy to, in Diana’s eyes at least, the only ally she could really trust.

This placed an intolerable burden on him to grow up too soon and as a result she damaged his childhood when it was his right to be looked after. He was under colossal pressure.

Children who feel a sense of hostility and lack of affection in their parents’ relationship feel very insecure. It leaves them with a fear of intimacy  and they shy away from  a trusting relationship, scared that if it breaks they will face emotional hurt and trauma.

Diana, feeling threatened,  even ended William’s close relationship with his nanny, Barbara Barnes when she dismissed her. William was four, and was so fond of Barbara that he climbed  into bed with her most mornings before breakfast.

He so keenly felt her loss that more than two decades later he put her name on his personal wedding invitation list.

This touching gesture shows how much he needed and depended on his nanny to provide a stable element in his young life.

Suddenly removing her from his existence must have hurt him to the core.

He was also without his father for weeks at a time. Because, instead of trying to sort out his difficulties with Diana, Charles escaped.

He displayed the ostrich-like behaviour of someone trying to bury his feelings and avoid dealing with a crisis in the hope it might go away.

William, however, has sought  to salvage something from the wreckage of his parents’ marriage, and his strategy has been to make himself as ‘ordinary’ as his position has allowed. But going to McDonald’s or meeting homeless people could only ever provide a limited insight.

He needed an alternative family who could take him back to basics, become the model, which is why the Middletons, with their solid middle-class values, are now pivotal in William’s blueprint for the future.

It is to them he looks for the stability and the support that he knows he needs to ensure his family will become that of a thoroughly modern monarch.

Destruction: The collapse of Princess Diana and Charles's marriage shaped the young prince and has made him determined not to repeat it

Destruction: The collapse of Princess Diana and Charles’s marriage shaped the young prince and has made him determined not to repeat it

Had he followed in the steps of either of his parents, William could easily have made just as disastrous a marriage.

But by marrying Kate, he has neatly side-stepped the more volatile and destructive tendencies of his damaged mother and helped bring about his own redemption.

No one should underestimate the willpower, self-knowledge, and courage he needed.

And it is certainly to his credit that he has done so. Clearly he is determined that, in as far as it is possible, he wants his home life to be modelled on that of the Middletons, and his children’s early lives to reflect that of their mother.

The marriage of Charles and  Diana proved to be far from the anticipated fairytale, ending instead in miserable divorce and her tragic early death.

So it is little wonder that few truly believed William would, himself, find happiness and stability in his personal life.

In order to understand the huge personal challenge he chose to tackle to discover what other children from secure, happy homes learn naturally and instinctively, it is important to hark back to the past and highlight not just his own early experiences, but also what his parents had been subjected to by their own parents.

The Queen’s total devotion to the nation has meant she was largely  an absentee and occupied parent. That, coupled with the fact that she has never been a demonstrative mother – and indeed disapproves of those who are – has had a profound effect on her four children, especially Charles.

Her iron self-control was easily interpreted as coldness by her son. It is telling that one of Prince Charles’s former private secretaries once told the author Graham Turner: ‘If the Queen had spent less time with those idiotic [government] boxes and taken being a wife and mother more seriously, it would have been far better.

‘Yes, she can handle Prime Ministers very well, but can she handle her eldest son? And which is more important? If the Queen had taken half as much trouble about the rearing of her children as she has about the breeding of her horses, the Royal Family wouldn’t be in such a mess now.’ 

It was a damning indictment.

It didn’t help either that Prince Philip’s own childhood was unstable.

The way Prince Charles was raised by a busy Queen Elizabeth and an emotionally distant Prince Phillip inevitably affected their eldest son's relationship with his own children

The way Prince Charles was raised by a busy Queen Elizabeth and an emotionally distant Prince Phillip inevitably affected their eldest son’s relationship with his own children

His father, Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, was a philanderer, while his mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, spent time in a psychiatric asylum and later became a nun. Young Philip was shared among  relatives who housed and clothed him but provided little in the way of nurture.

But it was to be Diana’s troubled past which contributed most to her own later difficulties.

She was just six when her parents – Johnnie Spencer, Viscount Althorp, and his wife, the Honourable Frances – separated.

Diana and her siblings were shunted between both parents and, when Frances remarried, to Peter Shand Kydd, the distant Viscount became a single parent.

The young Diana was devastated by the loss of her mother, turning instead to a series of nannies.

After a troubled teenage life, she met Charles at 19. For her, the subsequent courtship and marriage was a somewhat unreal fairytale. And once the couple married, her emotional state became more and more fragile.

When Diana was at her most troubled and volatile, the Palace feared that she could destroy the Royal Family.


From the moment he met Kate at St Andrews University, William was drawn to her open and direct manner. And to the altogether more simple, less restricted and less protocol-ridden lifestyle that she dangled tantalisingly before him.

For practically the first time in his life he had the freedom to drink in the pub like all the other students, or enjoy the novelty of eating a fish supper from paper while sitting on the pavement.

With Kate in St Andrews he could pretend, for some of the time at least, that he was just another undergraduate enjoying a relaxed relationship with a fellow student.

William loved becoming part of her warm family unit, and it was a novel and healing experience for him that Kate’s parents got on well. He revelled in their easy-going manner, their lack of stuffy formality. Spending time with them also gave him the chance to observe and learn how a settled, caring family works: something he had never, truly witnessed.

William himself summed up  his feelings for his future in-laws when he and Kate gave an interview once they became engaged.

‘Kate’s got a very, very close family,’ he said enthusiastically. ‘Mike and Carole have been really loving and caring and really fun. They have been really welcoming towards me so I’ve felt really a part of the family.’

Family bonds: The Duchess of Cambridge's sister Pippa has been accused of using her sister's royal connection for her own business interests

Family bonds: The Duchess of Cambridge’s sister Pippa has been accused of using her sister’s royal connection for her own business interests

It was to be a telling remark. Not that it has been an easy ride for the Middletons.

Carole and Kate’s siblings Pippa and James have been accused of using Kate’s position to promote their business interests.

They know however that William adores being with them and is very protective.

He has gone on holiday with them to the Caribbean island of Mustique, watched television at their home with supper on his lap and calls Kate’s father ‘Mike’ or occasionally ‘Dad’.

There is little doubt that the amount of time William has chosen to spend with the Middletons shows that a normal, middle class, close and loving family is just what he would have wanted his own to be like.

For the first time since his troubled childhood, he finally had the opportunity to begin to heal. He has relished the feelings of security, comfort and protection.

He didn’t have to worry about what he said. He wasn’t expected to be responsible for anyone’s emotional problems.

There was no pressure. He felt accepted for himself.

In return, he has insisted that  the Middletons be treated well by the Royal Family, which has set yet another precedent.

The Queen and Prince Philip have notoriously ignored in-laws, including the Spencers, failing to invite them to anything. But for the Middletons an exception has been made.

Not all the Royals approve. It is rumoured that if Charles and Camilla had their way, they wouldn’t give the Middletons house room, but they are courteous because it is what William wants.

It is also worth noting, perhaps, that while the Queen has always monitored the actions of her close family when it came to choosing a marriage partner, this was not the case with Kate. Perhaps, having accepted that three of her own four children eventually divorced, she has conceded she is a poor matchmaker.

As a result, she took a back seat as far as all her grandchildren were concerned, despite the fact that William is a future King.

In past times, the Queen Mother or Princess Margaret might well have had a quiet word in the Queen’s ear to ask if she really thought someone whose family was ‘in trade’ was the right kind of person to be marrying into the Royal Family, but both, of course, are now dead.

Normal lad: His relationship with Kate at St Andrews showed Prince William what a normal relationship could be like - outside the Royal family

Normal lad: His relationship with Kate at St Andrews showed Prince William what a normal relationship could be like – outside the Royal family

The Queen, however, was also shrewd enough to recognise that the public liked Kate: something that she readily acknowledged was good news for the future of the Royal Family.

But for all the behind-the-scenes reservations about the Middletons among senior Royals, it is obvious that William has got his own way.

They are to be an important element in his life and are to be treated with respect. Thus, this unremarkable middle-class family may well provide the stability and succour William requires, and the support he needs  to redeem the flagging fortunes of  the Royals.


Increasingly, as William’s confidence has grown, he has began to put Kate’s welfare and, at times, his own wishes, before Royal tradition.

Slowly but surely he has begun  to dismantle the somewhat stuffy Windsor traditions, replacing them with a much more relaxed and flexible style of living.

The first Christmas after he and Kate married, rather than choosing the customary Royal festivities with the Queen and other members of the Royal Family at Sandringham, he decided to spend the day privately with the Middleton family at their home in Berkshire, sharing an ordinary, albeit increasingly upwardly mobile, family’s festivities.

In another remarkable and refreshing break with protocol William  has, since he went to university, dispensed with flunkies, maids, footmen and valets.

It has been a bold departure from Royal tradition. And one, sadly, that he doubtless knows may not last once his child is born.

After the baby’s arrival, Kate will naturally turn to her mother for advice, making Carole Middleton the country’s most influential granny. It is clearly something that William will welcome.

Significantly, Kate is even moving back to her family home for the first few weeks after the birth, perhaps in her own way making a stand against Palace interference.

And it’s a move she wouldn’t make without William’s approval. 

Despite this, it is hard to see how the couple will manage without nannies. In fact, when William leaves his job in Anglesey, where he is a search- and-rescue pilot, their lives will inevitably become far grander and less private as they at last become a fully functioning part of the Royal machine and take the workload of his elderly grandparents.

The process has already begun, with him taking over as president of Fields in Trust from the 91-year-old Duke of Edinburgh in April.

New beginning: The Duke and Duchess, pictured when the news broke of the royal pregnancy, are set to bring up the future King or Queen in a way never done before in the Royal family

New beginning: The Duke and Duchess, pictured when the news broke of the royal pregnancy, are set to bring up the future King or Queen in a way never done before in the Royal family

The organisation, formerly the National Playing Fields Association, was one of the first patronages Prince Philip took on in 1947 when he married the Queen.

In London, William and Kate will live in a lavish four-storey, 20-room apartment in Kensington Palace that was the home of Princess Margaret. Their country residence will be a late Georgian ten-bedroom house at Sandringham, a present from the Queen.

The fact remains, however, that with the help of the Middletons, he has established the foundation for a less stressful life.

His hope, doubtless, is to offer his own child a more emotionally stable and demonstrative upbringing. He is likely to be a hands-on father, eating meals with his child, doing bath-time duties, and perhaps becoming the first future King to change a nappy.

Such ordinary events in the life of this extraordinary young man will affect his kingdom.

The baby will create the next link in a different type of chain that will strengthen not only his own position but that of future generations of Royals.

No one can know what the future holds, but William’s story is one of hope triumphing over experience and the redemption of a  broken family.

It is notoriously difficult to break the cycle of inherited dysfunction. Diana, despite her emotional difficulties, helped William make this crucial break.

Above all, however, it has been his own willpower that has achieved so much change.

His story also shows that there is nothing inevitable about the malignant cycle of family breakdown.

The antidote to it can be the traditional family: mother, father, and children, with their feet firmly on the ground.

After all, it is what William gravitated towards in Kate and the Middletons.

This unremarkable middle-class family could be the saving of William – and this baby could mark the final closure of a history of  misery and the beginning of a new and healthy family.

We will also see the fruition of a seed that Diana sowed in William, which he will now pass on, in a richer and deeper way, to his own child.

The baby will, perhaps, be hers as well as his.

Diana’s Baby: Kate, William and the Repair of a Broken Family by Angela Levin is published by emBooks and is available to purchase from, £4.99.

It’s first-class all the way when it comes to the nursery

A designer whose company decorated the nurseries of Prince William and Prince Harry has given a tantalising insight into what the latest Royal baby’s nursery could look like.

Lucinda Croft, owner of luxury interiors company Dragons of Walton Street, has installed a selection of wildly expensive bespoke, hand-painted furniture into a room at the exclusive Grosvenor House hotel.

The £26,000 suite, which can be booked by hotel guests, is littered with clues that suggest Kate, who is seven months pregnant, is one of her best customers.