Growing up, I imagined that princesses led a life of leisure. Indeed, in real life, anti-monarchists promote an image of Kate lounging around Kensington Palace in a silk robe with more time on her hands than she knows how to use, and occasionally popping out to shake a few hands and tipple champagne (at least, that is, when she’s not working on another Royal Baby).
The reality, however, is that the Duchess of Cambridge does not have the luxury of letting her mind shift to idle. Even when she’s under the weather or fighting the fog of a sleepless night with Cheeks, when she steps out her front door she carries with her certain expectations (beyond the expectation that she will look immaculate). Which is why, in order to fulfill her duties and be true to herself, Kate never stops learning.
CATHERINE AS SCHOLAR
While Kate’s days at St. Andrews are far behind her, she still hits the books. Sure, she probably isn’t reading textbooks anymore, but her syllabus is probably just as long. Kate is acutely aware that her job involves being a Royal with content, and not just a pretty face. She has no doubt learned that The Firm’s influence in Britain, the Commonwealth, and beyond is inextricably interconnected with the political world at large. Whether it is Greece teetering on the brink of bankruptcy or women’s rights violations in India, you can bet that the Duchess has done her homework to keep up-to-date with all the forces that impact her family and her husband’s future subjects.
Kate also shows a keen and real interest in her patronages. She is known to have carefully researched her current charities. Reports of visits at her charities frequently include remarks at the depth of her knowledge not only of the organization, but recent and ongoing successes.
POP CULTURE PRINCESS
While Kate is a major subject in the pop culture universe, that universe is large, and she frequently is called upon to rub shoulders with a wide array of cultural figures. It wouldn’t do for her to ask a cocktail party guest about their line of work when, in fact, they are last year’s Booker Prize recipient. Without a doubt, Catherine (and her team) spend hours learning about the backgrounds and accomplishments of personalities she is likely to meet at the events she attends.
“I’M STILL VERY MUCH KATE”
The last few years have seen a dramatic change in Catherine’s life. With the weight of her responsibilities on her shoulders, she still remains genuinely caring and “real” (how could she not be with the endearingly funny, spontaneous faces she pulls?). Judging by the tidbits and comments we hear from Kate herself and those around her, she keeps balance in her life is by engaging in hobbies she enjoys and trying out new personal pursuits. We know Kate loves the outdoors, and she’s frequently seen enjoying Kensington Gardens (with and without Prince Cheeks) as well as bundling up and even getting down and dirty with the scouting groups she supports. Kate has long enjoyed cooking (and William’s comments to Mary Berry in 2013 certainly make it sound like she’s a success in the kitchen, too). Despite everything else going on, Kate has stayed true to her hobby and was reported to have taken a cooking class at Leiths cookery school in 2014 to hone her skills further. She also revealed during a visit to Glasgow in the spring of 2013 that she was learning to knit while awaiting Prince George’s arrival.
STUDY LIKE KATE
- Keep up with current events. While we don’t have aides to help us sift through mountains of newspapers, magazines, and reports, there are numerous sources available that can get you caught up on what’s happening in the world in five minutes a day or less. If you find yourself at a computer or on your phone more often than not, subscribe to a daily news digest (I like The Skimm) to stay in the know. More of a paper and ink girl? The left-hand column on the first page of the Wall Street Journal carries a daily synopsis of the world’s big-ticket news items.
- Read. Whether you enjoy fiction or non-fiction, find something that interests you and read it. Keeping your brain conditioned to have an attention span longer than a tweet will help you at work, and giving your mind new ideas to digest will make you more interesting company in social settings.
- Embrace hobbies. Jobs, significant others, and raising heirs admittedly doesn’t leave much time for fun, but don’t give up on activities that bring you joy and fulfillment.
What is your favorite way to keep your mind sharp and continue learning?