The much anticipated royal tour of 2011 is now behind us, and by and large, it was very successful.
Riding high on the goodwill and excitement of their grand and picture-perfect wedding, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are back home in the UK to carry on with their official royal business. As we look back over their tour of Canada and Hollywood, and all the amazing photo ops as reminders of their glorious visit, I was suddenly stricken with why Kate is so popular: her ubiquitous smile.
To make a comparison and understand how Kate's sudden rise as the world's perfect princess came about, I need only look to her predecessor and mother-in-law, Princess Diana.
Princess Diana was certainly known for her generous nature. Driven by a need and desire to aid those with whom she empathized, Diana was always happy to lend her fame and raise awareness for pet causes. But there was always a hint of reserve in Princess Diana's smile, radiant yes, beautiful, no doubt, but not always accessible. One got the sense Diana was holding something back from the public, and who could blame her. Years of hurt and betrayal from the prince upon whom she'd placed all her hopes and a cold shoulder from the royal family who never quite embraced her, created a reticence to give it all away. Tragic and sad really, and along with the warmth she conveyed, there was always a hint of sadness in Diana's smile. Not unlike another famously guarded smile, Mona Lisa's.
Kate, on the other hand (or Catherine if you prefer) has a smile which conveys a true sense of openness, joy, gratefulness, and appreciation for her station in the world. From the day William and Kate's announced their engagement, I have likely looked at over a thousand pictures of Kate and her smile, and each time I find myself doing the same thing: smiling. Infectiously cheerful, Kate is able to spread a bit of sunshine upon everyone on whom she gazes. Even in photos, when Kate looks directly into the camera -- something she does with great ease and skill -- she invites you to smile right along with her.
Not to be completely schmaltzy here, but what more could you want in a public figure whose number one job is to bring a little fairytale glitter to a world that often lacks happy endings. She certainly made one cancer-stricken little girl's day a little brighter.
Already, with less than a year of official royal grooming, Kate has managed to assimilate into her royal role with tremendous ease. "Manor born" gets thrown around a lot when discussing Catherine Middleton, but there's a reason for that: she has taken to her global role as sunshine spreader like a duck to water. And honestly, with the state of the world the way it is, she couldn't have come along sooner.
Kate seems genuinely happy and most importantly, she and Prince William seem absolutely in love. If this is the future of the British Monarchy, then count me among their loyal subjects. The "people" found their princess in Diana, but Kate is well on her way to winning the hearts and smiles of a new generation of global admirers!
Viva la Kate!
View gallery: Radiant Kate Lights Up Royal Tour