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Comparing Kate & Diana In Their Early Years As Princesses

No doubt Diana and Kate are both amazing women, and Diana would have been a terrific mother-in-law/mentor to Kate.

We all know Diana became an iconic figure around the world, and Kate -- who turns 30 next Monday -- is fast becoming one in her own right.

Kate and Diana have dressed alike -- one wonders whether Kate has drawn inspiration from Diana when looking at old photos of her -- but if you look at their early years as princesses, they're completely different in significant ways.

Starting, really, with the life stage they married their princes.

Diana was only 19, a kindergarten teacher, when she met Prince Charles and first stepped into the public spotlight. She was just 21 when she married him in 1981. They only had a short time to get to know each other before tying the knot in front of the world's eyes, and Charles was a much older 31.

Kate, on the other hand, was 29 when she married then 28-year-old Prince William -- having had many more years of "life experience" and having dated Will on and off for many years before (they first met in 2001 at in Scotland at the University of St. Andrews).

"The two women have led two very different lives," notes writer/designer Elizabeth Emanuel, who knew Diana, in a recent Daily Mail article.

"Diana at 19 was shy, barely on the cusp of womanhood. She was nervous about getting things wrong. She wanted to appear mature and womanly, but -- although she looked beautiful -- she wasn’t confident. Kate, on the other hand, is 29. She is at ease with who she is and what’s expected of her."

Emanuel goes on to point out that Kate "had a decade in which to prepare for her place in the spotlight; to learn the ropes and discover the protocols of royal life." Diana didn't, having been thrust into an incredibly difficult role.

Kate appears immediately confident in photos and at ease, while Diana was more "Shy Di" when she first married, and found it very difficult to cope with the pressures of being Princess of Wales -- and also suffered from depression and battled an eating disorder, bulimia, at various points.

As for Kate? Well as former newspaper editor Piers Morgan has said, "I’ve rarely seen anyone enjoy the attentions of a camera lens quite like Prince William’s squeeze."

What remains to be seen now is when Kate will have children. Diana and Charles had kids shortly after their Royal Wedding, as the young Princess Diana gave birth to William in 1982 and Harry in 1984, which brought with it its own set of pressures early on for the Royal Couple. 

At the end of the day, most royal-watchers have urged the media not to turn Kate into "another Princess Diana" -- not to put the enormous pressure on her now that Diana did when she first became princess.

Let Kate be Kate. Don't constantly hound her, like the press did with Diana.

Alike or different, it is interesting to compare the early years of these princesses, two truly remarkable women.

Posted by Neil Morton
2012-01-04, 14:30:57

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