As a rule, members of the British royal family don’t talk much about their personal lives. And if there’s any drama going on behind the scenes, you won’t catch the royals posting about it on social media or going to the tabloids. Still, every so often, someone lets something slip to a member of the public. While Kate Middleton was out and about in January 2020, for example, she made a stunning confession about her husband, Prince William, and their family.
Kate and William were visiting the city of Bradford at the time – although they were doing so during a period of real turmoil for the royal family. Mere days before the trip, you see, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made the remarkable announcement that they would be stepping down as senior royals. And that revelation sent shockwaves not only throughout the rest of the Windsor clan, but also the whole country.
Harry and Meghan had revealed their decision via a statement posted on Instagram, writing, “After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution. We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen.”
It seemed, too, that Harry’s mind had been made up after he had become a father. In any case, the statement mentioned that he and Meghan wished “to raise [their] son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born while also providing [their] family with the space to focus on the next chapter – including the launch of [their] new charitable entity.”
Unsurprisingly, William didn’t speak directly to the media about Harry’s sudden exit. Yet according to The Sunday Times, he did privately tell a friend, “I’ve put my arm around my brother all our lives, and I can’t do that anymore; we’re separate entities. All we can do, and all I can do, is try and support them and hope that the time comes when we’re all singing from the same page. I want everyone to play on the team.”
And a statement released by the Queen suggested that she, too, had come to terms with the bombshell announcement. On January 13, 2020, she announced, “My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family. Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working members of the royal family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.”
The statement went on, “Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives. It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the U.K. These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days.”
As Kate and William journeyed through Bradford, then, fans of the royals talked to People, giving their opinions on how the couple seemed to be holding up in the wake of what the media have dubbed “Megxit.” Politics student Rukhsar Parveebn told the magazine, “[William] didn’t let it show that the drama had been going on. I love the royal family, and I was really impressed with him.”
And while speaking about William, Julie Astbury said to People, “He has got to carry on, business as usual. His mother was always my favorite, and we have gone on to William and Harry and their children. It’s sad. But we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.”
In any case, Kate looked as well put-together as she usually is on official engagements. For the occasion, she wore a custom-made coat from Alexander McQueen – the same fashion house that had created her wedding dress. Kate also sported an inexpensive dress from the store Zara and finished off the ensemble with a pair of Gianvito Rossi shoes.
And, naturally, the royals had plenty to do and see on their visit to Bradford. They arrived in the city at around lunchtime and were greeted by a big crowd that included children from local schools. Kate and William went on to spend some time inside City Hall talking to people, while a police officer kept the kids entertained by singing “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.”
Then, after a discussion about women in STEM subjects at City Hall, Kate and William greeted the crowds outside. There, the duchess complimented the waiting children on how they looked in their school uniforms, and she received some flowers from well-wishers to boot. Kate added to her collection of blooms, too, when William adorably handed her a single rose that he had been given.
After that, the royal couple went to the local restaurant MyLahore in order to learn about the charity work that the eatery takes part in. Kate and William even tried their best at making milkshakes themselves and spoke to the apprentices from Bradford College who were working in the kitchens.
During the Bradford trip, the duke and duchess also met Amir Khan – the youngest British person to become an Olympic medalist in boxing – who talked to William about his work in mental health. And this was relevant to the prince’s interests. Along with Harry and Kate, William helped form the Heads Together campaign, which is intended to get people to talk about mental health conditions and to reduce the stigma surrounding such issues.
After that, Kate and William visited one of the city’s Khidmat Centres, which offer workshops and support to vulnerable people. And there the pair received yet another gift: a spectacular dessert by Bradford cake maker Siama Ali. The elegant gateau featured edible photographs depicting important moments in the duke and duchess’ lives.
Kate was also given some presents for Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis: knitted hats each emblazoned with one of the young royals’ names. And the mom of three shared a tidbit about her personal life at that point, telling the women at the center, “I tried knitting when I first had George. I tried to knit him a very special jumper, but I got halfway down, and it splattered.”
Kate also interacted with young children later on in the trip, as she and William attended a gathering of members of projects that had been helped by the local charity Better Start Bradford. In particular, the royals talked to people who were part of the “Older Yet Wiser” scheme, which assists grandparents who care for their grandchildren.
And it appeared that Kate was very taken with an 18-month-old called Sorayah Ahmad – judging by her behavior at a sing-along session, anyway. Sorayah’s grandmother Maryiam later told Hello! magazine, “I almost started crying; it was very, very emotional. Kate was joining in with the nursery rhymes and dancing with Sorayah.”
Finally, the royal couple closed their day with a meeting with the organization Near Neighbors. And it was here that William made an interesting comment. Speaking to the group, he said, “It’s sometimes trying to get people to understand that it’s okay to have these challenges. We just need to deal with them, and we need to move forward rather than just be stuck in paralysis and pretend they don’t happen, which is no good.”
But while some took those words to be a comment on the Harry and Meghan situation, that seemingly wasn’t the case. Of the remarks, the Daily Mail reported, “Aides last night said [that William] had not intended to make a direct reference to the royal crisis but accepted parallels could be drawn. In the past, senior royals have used public engagements to allude to major issues.”
People watching the royals for any signs of their true feelings also paid close attention to their body language. And after an expert on the matter, Blanca Cobb, analyzed the duke and duchess’ movements for Cosmopolitan magazine, she concluded that the pair were definitely feeling some level of stress – even if they weren’t saying it out loud.
Cobb said, for example, that both Kate and William had been holding their hands near their stomachs while they had been chatting to the public. She added, “When you’re unsettled about something, you might cover a vulnerable part of your body as if shielding yourself. What’s interesting is that William is doing the same.”
The body language expert went on, “It’s unusual to see William and Kate with such rounded shoulders. It could be that they’re figuratively feeling the weight or pressure of the situation with Harry and Meghan, so it’s weighing them down a bit. I think the rounded shoulders are more pronounced at this event than at other past events.”
All in all, it was a very interesting day for fans of the royals. But arguably the most intriguing tidbit of them all came from the mouth of Kate, and it wasn’t actually anything to do with Meghan and Harry. You see, while speaking to a young man with special needs, the duchess let slip something about herself and William.
After Josh Macplace told Kate that he had sent her cards following the births of all three of her children, she said in return, “I don’t think William wants any more.” And although the remark was only made as part of a casual conversation, it was still a pretty shocking piece of information to put out there.
This isn’t the first time that the subject of more children has come up for Kate, either. For instance, in February 2019 the duchess was charmed by a cute five-year-old while visiting Ballymena in Northern Ireland. She even told the child’s father, “He’s gorgeous. It makes me feel broody.” But when Kate was asked if that meant she wanted another baby, she answered, “I think William would be a little worried.”
One reason why William could be concerned is because Kate’s previous pregnancies have taken a real toll on her health. While she was expecting George, Charlotte and Louis, you see, she suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum – or an extreme form of morning sickness. In some cases, hyperemesis gravidarum can even weaken the body of a pregnant woman to the extent that they require hospital treatment.
And in September 2017, when Kate was pregnant with Louis, William met another person who had suffered through hyperemesis gravidarum. On that occasion, the prince hinted at the severity of Kate’s condition, telling the mom that while his wife had tried ginger biscuits to stop the sickness, it hadn’t worked. He added, “There’s not much ginger can do to stop that. We’ve done all that.”
Kate has been candid about the difficulties of motherhood, too. Not long after her visit to Bradford, she traveled to Cardiff and opened up to the staff of a children’s center in the Welsh city. And during that chat, the duchess discussed the problems that she had encountered when George had been just a baby.
Kate told the people at the center, “It was the first year, and I’d just had George – William was still working with Search and Rescue – and we came up here, and I had a tiny, tiny baby in the middle of Anglesey. It was so isolated, so cut off. I didn’t have any family around, and [William] was doing night shifts.”
And back in 2017, the duchess had alluded to further troubles in a speech at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Indeed, she claimed that although she found being a mother “wonderful and rewarding,” it had also “been a huge challenge.” Yes, even with the vast amount of support available to Kate, she’d still had to deal with some of the conundrums that regular moms face.
Kate explained, “Nothing can really prepare you for the sheer overwhelming experience of what it means to become a mother. It is full of complex emotions of joy, exhaustion, love and worry all mixed together. Your fundamental identity changes overnight. You go from thinking of yourself as primarily an individual to suddenly being a mother, first and foremost.”
Then, in February 2020 Kate was interviewed for a podcast called Happy Mum, Happy Baby, and during the conversation she was surprisingly candid about her experiences of pregnancy and motherhood. The duchess told host Giovanna Fletcher, “I got very bad morning sickness, so I’m not the happiest of pregnant people.”
Kate also revealed how the hyperemesis gravidarum had affected her husband. She said, “Being pregnant and having a newborn baby and things like that impacts everybody in the family. You know, William didn’t feel he could do much to help, and it’s hard for everyone to see you suffering without actually being able to do anything about it.”
That wasn’t all, as Kate additionally claimed that she had engaged in “hypnobirthing” while in labor. She went on, “There’s levels of [hypnobirthing]. I’m not going to say that William was standing there, sort of, chanting sweet nothings at me. He definitely wasn’t! I didn’t even ask him about it, but it was just something I wanted to do for myself.”
Then the royal explained what it had been like to present George and his younger siblings outside the Lindo Wing on the days when they had been born. Showing the baby to the press and photographers is expected of royal mothers – although Meghan famously bucked the trend after the birth of her son, Archie.
Speaking of unveiling George to the world, Kate said that she had found it all “slightly terrifying.” She added, “For [William and I] to be able to share that joy and appreciation with the public, I felt was really important. But equally it was coupled with a newborn baby and inexperienced parents, and the uncertainty of what that held, so there were all sorts of mixed emotions.”
What’s more, it turned out that the two royals had tried to learn the basics of childcare even before George had arrived. Kate revealed, “We’d even tried to practice with a little baby, like a little doll, at home, but you know it just never works out the way you planned it. So, it was quite hard to do that on the world’s stage, but no, [William] did a very good job.”
In the same interview, Kate also mused on what she would want her kids to remember about their childhoods, saying, “Those moments with me as a mother, but also the family going to the beach, getting soaking wet, filling our boots full of water – those are what I would want them to remember. Not a stressful household where you’re trying to do everything and not really succeeding at one thing.”
So, those fans hoping for a new lot of royal babies may inevitably be disappointed. Harry and Meghan don’t appear to want an overly large family, either, as they’ve since claimed that ideally they would have only one more child. And now, of course, it seems more and more unlikely that Kate will have another little prince or princess running around. Perhaps, then, we’ll just have to settle for watching George, Charlotte, Louis and Archie grow up.