I first read one of Claudia Joseph‘s biographies, Kate: The Making of a Princess in 2011, just a few months before the royal wedding. Since then I’ve read a number of books on Catherine, William and a number of other royals, but few authors have been able to keep me hooked like Joseph, who doesn’t glaze over details of Catherine’s upbringing and her relationship with William. For example, in Making of a Princess, Joseph introduced readers to Kate’s ancestors, which allowed for a better understanding of who she is and, perhaps, why she is where is she today.
Joseph’s new book, William and Kate’s Britain (Splendid Publications, Ltd), explores the places that the royal couple have visited, whether frequently or for an official visit. From St. Andrews University to the bakery that made the royal wedding cake, Joseph literally left no stone unturned.
The Duchess Diary: How long did it take you to do research for this book?
Claudia Joseph: You could say I began researching this book during the 2007 Christmas holiday when I wrote my first story about the Duchess of Cambridge. I was commissioned by the Mail on Sunday to research her family tree and I tracked down many of her relatives, who had no idea they were related to Prince William’s then-girlfriend. That was the starting point for my interest in Kate.
Since then I have written many stories about the royals, as well as my book Kate: The Making of a Princess and have been a commentator on television around the world so I am becoming something of an expert! I finally began researching William and Kate’s Britain last autumn and finished it in the spring, so it took me about six months from start to finish.
TDD: Are there any fascinating tidbits you picked up during your research?
CJ: My favourite chapter in the book is about Gloucestershire because that is from where I come. I grew up in a little village called Bibury and have visited many of William and Kate’s favourite haunts.
After I left home my parents moved to Cirencester – and I spent my happy hours walking in the grounds of Cirencester Polo Club, which was inaugurated by the seventh Earl Bathurst in 1894. It was at Cirencester Park Polo Club that Prince William spent his first Father’s Day as a parent and Prince George kicked his first ball in public.
I went to school in Cheltenham and enjoyed going to the National Hunt Festival, a favourite of the Queen Mother; she attended in a buggy painted in her racing colours.
Kate and William have been to Cheltenham Racecourse several times. In fact it has been the setting of some of their most memorable scenes: the 2006 Cheltenham Gold Cup where Kate appeared in the royal box for the first time with Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall without William; the opening day of the National Hunt Festival, the following year, when a strained-looking William and Kate made their last public appearance together before their temporary split and at Cheltenham, in 2013, when a pregnant Kate giggled as friend Harry Aubrey-Fletcher dared to tweak Prince William’s ear.
I also remember drinking in the Tunnel House Inn, nestled between Coates and Tarlton in the Cotswolds, when I was the age of the young royals. It was one of William and Harry’s favourite locals when they stayed with their father at Highgrove. Obviously they followed in my illustrious footsteps!
TDD: You’ve written a few books on the Duchess of Cambridge. Do you notice a difference in her now that she’s married and a member of the royal family?
CJ: I think Kate has blossomed since she joined the royal family. When she began dating William, she was a typical middle-class girl – although she was obviously immensely privileged, lived in a beautiful house and went to one of Britain’s top public schools. Now she is married to an heir to the throne and a Duchess. She has always been very mature, grounded and comfortable in her own skin but she has taken to her new role admirably.
TDD: People often ask me if William and Kate are truly in love, and I believe they are. What say you?
CJ: I am sure that William and Kate are in love. You can tell from their body language and the looks they give each other. They seem very comfortable together.
You have to remember that they dated for a long time before they got engaged – and at one stage split up. If they had not been in love they would not have got back together, got engaged and got married.
TDD: What fascinates you most about Kate?
CJ: I think what is most fascinating about Kate is that she is the first commoner for 350 years to marry into the royal family. That does not mean she was ‘common’, simply that she was not an aristocrat or member of the royal family. Her story is a real-life fairytale about an ordinary girl who married a Prince.
TDD: I’ve often thought that Kate was born to do this (become a future consort, marry a future king, handle her status with confidence and tact), and I especially thought that after reading your book, ‘Kate: The Making of A Princess.’ Did you sense this as you reflected on your books?
CJ: I agree with you that Kate was born to the role. She is naturally private and discreet and very dignified in public. She has acquitted herself admirably at both royal weddings, military graduation ceremonies and public engagements and has not put a foot wrong. We have never seen her falling out of nightclubs or looking in disarray.
TDD: What’s next?
CJ: I’m thinking of writing another book about Kate – watch this space!
William and Kate’s Britain: A Unique Guide to the Haunts of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Splendid Publications, Ltd) is available for purchase on Amazon.
Also by Claudia Joseph: