I remember it like it was yesterday – the early morning sun had not yet risen, yet there I sat, snuggled under a duvet in a white lace nightgown (the most wedding-worthy nightgown I owned – in hindsight, it was fairly elaborate for a college student) as David and a very-pregnant, very-chic Victoria Beckham sauntered into Westminster Abbey. April 29, 2011 – the day that changed my life.
You may think this narrative is melodramatic, but for myself and for so many women (and men!) around the world, the Royal Wedding really struck a chord, and in many cases changed lives. As I watched the then-Kate Middleton step out of that shiny Rolls Royce, glancing back at the millions of people watching her marry her best friend, I felt like I figured something out.
In 2011, I was a senior at a small university, majoring in something I didn’t really love, living with someone I didn’t really love, and going day-by-day in a life I didn’t really love. It was all adequate and sensible, but there was no joy or excitement in my life. The night before the royal wedding, I made tiny cucumber sandwiches, baked scones, and bought a cupcake from a local bakery – all for myself, since no one was going to wake up so early to watch with me. I made sure the kettle was filled with water and the tea bag was set out so, in my frilly white nightgown, I could watch the wedding early the next morning.
And I did – I woke up at 4 A.M., watched the arrivals of the famous guests, saw Kate and Pippa walked into the Abbey, held my breath as William tried to smoosh the ring on Kate’s nervously swollen finger, cheered as they rode through London in a carriage, and held out just long enough to see two kisses on the Buckingham Palace balcony before I rushed to get to campus for my history class. Two days later, I repliKate-ed for the first time, in a blue dress, black jacket, and black wedges. I was hooked.
In the months that followed, my life fell apart. The guy I didn’t really love left me, unceremoniously and in an ugly way. I graduated from school and didn’t get a job in the degree that I didn’t really care for. I couldn’t afford the rent on my own, so back to my parent’s house I went. It was, for me, a place of rock bottom. For the first time, that winter after the wedding, I Google’d: What Would Kate Middleton Do?
Kate inspired me in so many ways. I stopped frumping around and put on a dress, and makeup, and did my hair – I would show my ex what he was missing (even if he had no chance in hell of getting it back). I began eating and treating my body better, and set a personal fitness challenge for myself. I got outdoors more, exploring the woods near my parent’s house. I took time to figure out what I wanted in life. Thanks to Kate, I realized I wanted a life filled with elegant, ladylike things. I wanted to curl up by the fire in a country-inspired house and read a good book. I wanted to dress nicely every day, listen to classical music, and drink tea. More than anything, I wanted someone to drink tea with.
It was not long after that that Amanda, my WWKD co-editor, launched the site and I joined her a few weeks later. Over the next seven years, we would have ups-and-downs, following Kate’s life, learning more about her, and sharing that inspiration. We became the experts – sharing experiences I never would have dreamed of outside Windsor Castle and around London. Since then, thousands upon thousands of women have said the same thing – we are inspired by Kate, and she has changed our lives. There is a massive, loving, supportive, and wonderful community of women who also want to wear pretty (preferably LK Bennett!) dresses, drink tea, and chat about juicy royal gossip.
We started asking ourselves, constantly, what would Kate do? In many situations: a dead-end job you don’t love (put in your best during the day, enjoy your time off to yourself), with friends who talk behind your back (keep a close-knit circle you can trust, no one else is worth your time!), what to wear (when in doubt, Nude Pumps!), how to impress your in-laws for the first time (homemade chutney), how to stay fit (choose hobbies that keep you active, like walking, tennis, rowing, etc.). It wasn’t because we were “crazy fans,” or stalkers, or unimaginative lemmings, but because Kate embodies the elegant, refined, feminine, royal lifestyle to which we all aspire. If we could emulate a tiny bit of Kate’s life, then we were a little bit like a princess – and isn’t that what we always dreamed of?
Through my time researching the royal lifestyle, chatting about royal fashion, and working as a new kind of “expert,” I made friends – friends so good I couldn’t dream them up. I met my maid-of-honor, and now godmother to my son, because Kate inspired us both. I met my British husband – who now sits next to me, drinking a cup of tea from a royal baby commemorative Emma Bridgewater mug – because we both loved England, and the countryside, and drinking tea.
I even planned a royally-inspired wedding because, has there ever been a more perfect wedding day? The dress, venue, music, flowers, and even the dinner menu and the cake all had a royal touch to them. And when, a year later, my husband and I found out we were expecting our first baby, I looked to royal inspiration for that, too.
So there you have it – eight years ago, Kate Middleton changed my life. From a shabby bedroom in New Jersey to a beautiful country house in Virginia, Kate has been with me – metaphorically, to inspire me – through the highest and lowest points of my life. I couldn’t be more grateful to her, but more to the friendships I’ve made along the way – the girls who have guided and inspired me, and continue to do so every day.