What does Kate do?

The internet was a-buzz last week when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge jetted off to the Maldives for a short break before their New Zealand and Australia tour. While most people were envious of their escape to warmer climates, others were disgruntled. To many, it seems that the Duchess of Cambridge does nothing.  It is human perception to think that Kate only does what we see her do – go shopping, walk Prince George in a pram, and attend an event every few weeks. So, I was unsurprised to hear the question: “what does Kate do?”

The answer is that Kate does a lot.  A large portion of her professional “Duchess Duties” occurs behind the scenes. While we can only make informed speculation on this secretive part of her life, she certainly has professional requirements and duties to tend to each week, including meetings with advisors, researching charity visits, and tending to public correspondence.

Correspondence Duty

While she may not respond to every letter personally, the Duchess of Cambridge does have correspondence responsibilities. It is likely that her press officers give her a stack of mail, or forward specific emails – invitations, letters, and other information – and other things only she can sort through and manage herself. Some letters will require replies, while some invitations require planning.  This may seem like a menial task, but consider the last time you went through your mail in a detailed manner, or thoughtfully and thoroughly responded to a letter.  These correspondence duties will take time and focus during the Duchess’ week.


Kate’s schedule is another thing that she will have a heavy hand in managing. Everything, from George’s nap times to professional meetings and public engagements, must be carefully and thoughtfully planned out. Whether on a large calendar, an iCalendar document, or in a stylish day planner, the Duchess of Cambridge must maintain a detailed and organized schedule for every aspect of her life, not just social engagements and charity events.

Engagement Planning

Kate at Northolt High School - via Gordon Rayner

Kate at Northolt High School – via Gordon Rayner

You may think that Kate shows up to an event, stays for an hour, and her work is done. The reality is that these royal events take a lot of time, effort, and planning. Royal engagements are planned weeks or months ahead of time, although the public is not informed until much closer to the date.  Kate’s attendance must be thoughtfully organized – her activities should be timed to best suit both her needs and the needs of the venue.  Arrivals and departures also require detailed planning, including the mode of transportation, the best routes to take, traffic schedules, and privacy concerns. Royal security needs will be tactically planned while the press must be informed and managed. And that is just the logistics of an event.

Research and Preparation

The Duchess of Cambridge is always said to be well spoken and well informed while attending her events. This does not come by chance, but by thorough reading and studying. Kate needs – and wants – to know all about the charity she is supporting, the people she is meeting, the events she is attending, what the people are doing, where they come from, etc. I imagine each event takes hours of studying and research, whether to make simple small talk or partake in intellectual discussions.

In addition to studying for public events, Kate needs to be well informed on cultural events, the government, the monarchy, social culture, and local news. Her required learning will never stop considering she should be up to speed on these topics at all times. This could come in the form of a newspaper, a book, or watching the news, but it is still a requirement of her lifestyle.

Regular Briefings

Rebecca Deacon, Kate’s personal private secretary, would regularly meet with the Duchess

While she undoubtedly studies these topics on her own, she will often meet with her advisors and personal secretary to discuss similar matters. These frequent meetings cover important topics such as government affairs, local events, and other issues that the Duchess should be aware of, as well as upcoming engagements, potential events that require planning, and anything else about Kate’s life. Her advisors and personal aides help manage both her private and public schedule, so the Duchess’ life runs smoothly. These meetings take time, effort, brainpower, and preparation from both the advisors and Kate herself.

Fitness and Health

Whether you agree or not, part of the Duchess of Cambridge’s duties are maintaining her physical appearance. Kate is personally dedicated to physical health and fitness, something showcased in her patronage of SportsAid, her passion for the Olympics, and her frequent sightings walking or running in Kensington Park. Along with staying active, Kate maintains a healthy diet, which is no easy task in a royal household. Meal planning for herself and her family, and collaborating with household staff, takes time, planning, and – undoubtedly – another meeting. Along with meal planning and healthy eating, the Duchess of Cambridge must stay physically active.  To maintain her figure, which regularly makes tabloid headlines, I would not be surprised to learn that she visits the gym for 7+ hours per week. She may even meet with a personal trainer, which would require another meeting.

Beauty and Appearance

Physical fitness is a personal priority for Kate, but physical appearance is a priority for everyone else. Certain incidences, such as Kate’s “grey hairs” or the bandage on her finger, made international headlines. To think that Kate does not have to be well groomed and beautified is a naïve misconception.  That upkeep requires time and planning.  Monthly facials, monthly haircuts, bi-annual hair treatments, makeup lessons, beauty consultations, eyebrow grooming, regular blowouts, dental appointments, personal training, manicures, outfit selections, doctor appointments, nutritionist appointments, etc. – these events take time and they are a required part of her life. Some people are able to wake up, comb their hair, and run out the door every day. Kate’s beauty routine would require hours out of every week.

The Royal Lifestyle

prince george

On top of her professional duties and personal priorities, the Duchess of Cambridge is a wife and a mother of a young son. She employs a part-time housekeeper and a part-time nanny, which certainly helps. Nevertheless, even with someone watching George so she can check e-mails or picking up groceries so she can go out for a walk with the pram, Kate’s life has responsibilities, duties, and requirements very different from our own.

So when the question comes up, as it inevitably does, of “what does Kate do all day?”  I explain these things to them. Royals lead lives we cannot fully understand, because they are very secret, and very different from unroyal lives.  To some, it seems an easy, unstressful, charmed life filled with manicures and holidays. To others, it seems a frightful burden masked in great clothes.


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Creative Director at Effervescence Media Group
Christine is the editor of What Would Kate Do? and The Refined Side. When she isn’t writing, she can be found reading with a cup of tea. Her interests lie in history, etiquette, and consumer culture. She resides in Washington, D.C.
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31 Comments on What does Kate do?

  1. Leesa
    March 10, 2014 at 10:39 am (1 year ago)

    This article does explain what the Duchess does throughout her day and the fact that there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work to be done on her part. However, I would not go so far as to say that this is work or at least her royal work. To call a lot of things “work,” might be an overstatement. Getting blowouts, facials every month, makeup lessons, eyebrow grooming, manicures that is NOT work. That is LUXURY that any woman would love to do. Kate comes from a very well off family and she would probably be doing a lot of this stuff even if her title weren’t Duchess so we can’t assume that it’s all for the sake of being part of the royal affairs as Duchess. She enjoys fitness and working out and she doesn’t have a full time job plus she has nannies, housekeepers and cooks, a secretary etc. so she has a lot of free time to exercise and get her body in shape. It might be work if she had to do that on top of a day job and having to manage the house, baby, and cooking all on her own. The fact that Kate’s beauty routine requires hours of work is because she chooses to do so. She wants to do be over the top. She chooses to let media headlines about her grey hairs, band aids etc. decide how she wants to present herself, but even when she comes out natural without having done that much work, when we saw her first appearance after she had Prince George, she looked great. We’ve seen her in the past and she can be the woman who goes out the door having to do little to hair and her face. I don’t think she should be scrutinized and criticized the way she is, but I think a lot of her day is not a whole lot of work for royal duties. Taking care of a baby/raising a boy (especially when you have nannies and secretaries)is a normal job that millions of moms do.

    She does have royal engagements and charity events but they are so few in between (they require some research, knowledge and being aware of the culture and news) but overall I’m betting she spends the majority of her time getting to work on her beauty regime, looks, exercise/ diet and nutrition (which is probably largely done for her).

    How much of it is work? I wouldn’t say that she is lazy at all. In fact she does work but it’s more of getting to do luxurious things as your job. It must be nice to have all the money in the world and hired on hands on help to get facials, weekly blowouts and haircuts, make up etc. and to buy anything for you beauty, and be able to call that work. Most women would love that job and wouldn’t consider that work. But if Kate Middleton considers that work- she probably doesn’t know what real work is. She comes from a very upscale family where she’s had everything money could buy, vacations that she dreamed of etc. and she still gets all that now. But yah, she’s gotta do a little bit of royal work and she probably does truly care about charities, but most of her life is spent on working on herself, loving herself, that’s where the majority of her time is.

    It would be much nicer if she spent less time pampering herself and trying to look perfect for the media or even the queen, and spent more time reaching out to people except for the few charities she does.

    • Melanie
      March 10, 2014 at 12:56 pm (1 year ago)


      Agree with your comments with the exception being that blowouts, etc. are a luxury and not part of her job.

      I happen to know several high-powered women in many different career paths where those things deemed “luxuries” for some are a requirement for others. We can all see women magazine editors, actresses, models, etc. doing these types of activities for their jobs and not thinking much of it – but women in finance, women executives for corporations and women with visible jobs often have requirements to have blowouts or look a certain manner for their jobs.

      While I’m not saying I agree with it, or even that it is appropriate in all cases, it seems to be a reality for high-powered and high-profile women to look a certain way and I would agree with the WWKD ladies that Kate falls into this category. We could argue all day about this being sexist or uncalled for, but until society as a whole chooses to alter this way of thinking, I think this will be an ongoing standard.

      • Violet
        March 10, 2014 at 1:38 pm (1 year ago)

        I agree with Melanie and I will share with you a personal story why.

        I used to be a Personal Assistant to a female C-level executive in the US. When she got her high-powered job, she was required to look groomed, professional and polished for all board meetings, meetings with investors, meetings with clients and so on. In short, she was required to look good at all times while representing the company. These costs had been added to her salary in the form of a personal allowance now commonly used in executive compensation structures.

        While I get that Kate is not a high-powered executive, she has the same standards of appearance that an executive does given her public persona. She, like it or not, represents the United Kingdom at home and abroad and how she looks will not only reflect on the Royal Family but on the country itself and potentially rippling down to the sentiment about the country by foreigners including the economy, tourism market and more.

        I think what the author was trying to communicate was that point. We may not like that these things are not a luxury to some, but it seems to be the reality in our image-obsessed culture.

        • Christine
          March 10, 2014 at 1:40 pm (1 year ago)

          Excellent point, Violet! Thanks for sharing about your former boss :)

        • tonya
          March 10, 2014 at 2:05 pm (1 year ago)

          Anything fun that suddenly becomes required loses its appeal. I would love to be able to afford facials/blowouts, etc but if I HAD to get them done I might not enjoy those things as much. She doesn’t have the ability to say “screw that hair appointment, I want to take my son to the park” as we do. With her schedule and her husbands, it is probably very hard for alone time and no time to be spontaneous. I will take this life any day.

          • Christine
            March 10, 2014 at 2:23 pm (1 year ago)

            I love that idea! You’re right – as soon as you have to do it, it isn’t fun any more. We have seen her taking George for walks, which probably goes towards her exercise for the day. Such good insight :)

    • Christine
      March 10, 2014 at 1:11 pm (1 year ago)

      Leesa, we were hoping to highlight the behind-the-scenes duties that Kate does everyday. I wrote the piece (so I am a little bit biased) but it is up to your opinion on why Kate does so much for her appearance. I believe that it is part of her job, as Melanie says, but I do understand your thoughts that she doesn’t need to do extensive upkeep. I would note that before she left the hospital with Prince George, she had a professional blowout and help with her make-up, and had visit the salon for extensive treatment only weeks before. But she does look very beautiful naturally.

      Ladies, I commend you on a healthy, polite debate :)

    • Sophia Pitt
      March 12, 2014 at 12:33 pm (1 year ago)

      Agreed, very well put. The Duchess now has royal obligations, she is married to the Future king of England. She has the capabilities/resources to get out there and make a difference. So far in this area she has done exceedingly little. She has royal aids and help available for all the behind the scenes work. Yes she has a baby but so do many women who have to multi task.Of course there is a royal tour coming up, but so what? that is what you do work hard, get the job done, then take a break. It would have been terrific to see her out there making a difference and getting on with things before going on yet another holiday. If the Middleton’s choose to take holidays that is there business, but the
      Duchess has a different life now and with that comes responsibilities, her and the Duke are not newly weds anymore. Just look at the workload of the Princess Mary of Denmark. She has 4 children yes she goes on holidays with her family but only after she has completed a list of royal engagements and in her case flying visits to other countries, Myanmar visit to name one. Mary has been out there working hard since day one. Whoever if anyone has been advising the Duchess had better rethink strategies.

  2. Jane Barr
    March 10, 2014 at 1:17 pm (1 year ago)

    Excellent piece! I agree with everything you have said. I always like to stress the point you made about prep work for these various engagements, but you made a further point that is really good. Kate has to be politically informed, which is no small task in this day and age. She has to be up-to-date and ready to give an intelligent comment on all number of current events. Think of how embarrassing it is for a normal person to be at a cocktail party and not know about some world event, imagine how that would be magnified as if you were the Duchess of Cambridge! She needs to know about the news and have an informed and intelligent opinion. Great, greta point. She is a busy girl between her work and George. I am glad she is taking a quick break.

    • Christine
      March 10, 2014 at 1:25 pm (1 year ago)

      Yes! That knowledge takes time! I try to stay informed, but it takes at least an hour out of my day and I know I’m not fully up-to-date. These things do take time. Thanks for your input!

  3. Autumn
    March 10, 2014 at 1:37 pm (1 year ago)

    This is a lovely post!! Thank you so much for posting. :)

    I would never want to trade places with the Duchess ever. To constantly be under scrutiny about the smallest things would be awful. Maybe it is just me but I did not see grey hairs and what woman has not gone a couple extra weeks without getting her hair done (not to mention she had more important things to worry about like being a first time mother.)

    • Christine
      March 10, 2014 at 1:38 pm (1 year ago)

      Hefty debate over whether it was grey hairs or dry shampoo, either way it was gone a week later!

  4. Peggie Cosgrove
    March 10, 2014 at 2:18 pm (1 year ago)

    The Dutchess is damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t. OK, she got a pass on her wedding day, but the honeymoon with the public and press is over. Would you like to trade places with the Duchess? The jewels and the gowns and the palace apartment sound like fun but they wouldn’t compensate me for an almost total lack of privacy, the criticism of everything done or not done; the acceptance that myself, husband, child/children will need 24 hr security for life. No one but her family and close friends know who she really is– and maybe one or two really expert journalists. To everyone else, she is an inkblot test- people look at the same picture and interpret in a wide variety of ways. Of course she works. Being prepared and on point all the time she is doing charity appearances or representing the Monarchy in the public glare is hard work. It’s a choice she has made for herself. She seems to me that she has great strengths – including knowing when to take a break when she is exhausted. I wish her and her family good luck.

    • Christine
      March 10, 2014 at 2:24 pm (1 year ago)

      Peggie, you make such good points. She can’t win! And I love your metaphor of the ink blot test – I might borrow that in the future!

      • Peggie Cosgrove
        March 11, 2014 at 11:03 am (1 year ago)

        You are welcome to it.

        I enjoyed participating in this online discussion and would be happy to contribute if you do another in the future. Twitter is just too short a space in which to pose a logical argument.

        • Christine
          March 11, 2014 at 11:24 am (1 year ago)

          We enjoyed the positive and respectful contributions, even when the opinions were different. I will definitely consider another topic like this one in the future!

  5. Katie
    March 10, 2014 at 2:40 pm (1 year ago)

    Hi Christine, what a great article! I agree with all of the points you made.

    I used to plan week long annual corporate conferences for 2500+ attendees. I realize this is totally different from Catherine’s lifestyle, but I’d like to make the comparison of the prep work/time. For the other 2498 people that attended the meeting, all they had to do was pack their suitcase and show up at the conference. My co-worker and I spent every working day of the previous 12 months planning the meeting, ensuring we were prepared for every possible outcome and that each detail was perfect. Most of the attendees never stopped to think how much time and effort went into planning the event each year.

    I’m comparing this to Catherine’s lifestyle because most of us read the articles about Catherine’s hair, clothing, shoes, vacations, homes, etc. but many never stop to think how much effort goes into making it all look like a perfect fairy tale. One item not mentioned in the article is her clothing. With so many outfits expected on the upcoming tour (and throughout the year at other events), I imagine she spends quite a bit of time meeting with fashion designers and having her bespoke creations fitted. I’m guessing either she or her private secretary keeps track of what she wore to each event, including the jewelry.

    William and Catherine’s time as full time royals is coming, sooner or later. It’s a topic none of the royals like to discuss, but their lives will change dramatically with the death of Prince Charles and/or The Queen (long live both of them!). I even see the death of Prince Phillip meaning an increase in workload, as he still carries out a substantial number of solo engagements.

    We should remember that William and Catherine have (God willing) a very long life ahead of them, full of engagements, investitures, state dinners, tours, etc. We may not see much of them right now, but the time will come when they are attending engagements almost daily.

    • Christine
      March 10, 2014 at 3:50 pm (1 year ago)

      Beautiful insight! Yes, each engagement takes hours and hours of planning – and it would be foolish to think Catherine does not partake in that. Another good point is how long she spends on her clothing, including selecting and planning outfits, meeting with designers, and the hours of fittings.

    • loulou5
      March 10, 2014 at 4:33 pm (1 year ago)

      Since you mentioned the tour, I would guess that days are filled right now with preparing for the multiple engagements they will have per day for those weeks. They are expected to know something about each and every person they meet at engagements–not on walkabouts, but the people at events. And she has to plan appropriate clothing for every one of those engagements–head to toe because the fashion critics of the media will be evaluating (and moaning about) every tiny detail of everything she wears. Plus, she has to prepare for traveling (via commercial airline no less) that far for that long with a baby which is no easy task.

      • Christine
        March 10, 2014 at 4:35 pm (1 year ago)

        Very good points! She has a lot to do right now!

    • O Franklin
      May 21, 2014 at 9:09 am (1 year ago)

      She has staff that does everything you just mentioned and keep her informed. She does not do the work and planning… you’re kidding right?

      • Christine
        May 22, 2014 at 10:17 am (1 year ago)

        Hello O Franklin, no, I am very serious. As I stated, this article was written from thorough research and informed speculation. The duties I stated are based on fact – we know she does these things – so I am curious to see where your convictions come from. Also, in the future, please be respectful to my readers and my writers when making comments.

  6. Emily Hack
    March 10, 2014 at 2:41 pm (1 year ago)

    I love this article! Christine you have done a great job in the writing and outlining of this.

    • Christine
      March 10, 2014 at 3:49 pm (1 year ago)

      Thank you, Emily!

  7. Sophia Pitt
    March 10, 2014 at 3:11 pm (1 year ago)

    I’m sorry but none of what you have outlined constitutes work, these are everyday simple tasks. What about the everyday mother out there working fulltime as well as looking afte a family and all that goes with that, with no help at all, it is called struggle street. The Duchess has personal advisers and aids that obviously that most of the workload. You just need to look at Princess Mary of Denmark and Queen Maxima for that matter with 3/4 children each, they have incredible work ethic. They are polished performers who not only look the part but handle themselves beautifully, these two outstanding royals are out there making a difference, there is no comparison here at all.

    • Christine
      March 10, 2014 at 3:49 pm (1 year ago)

      Sophia, I agree that Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands are excellent examples of royal women. However, I would note that they have been royals for much longer – each of them marrying royal men over ten years ago. Also, Maxima is a Queen and Crown Princess Mary is the wife of the second in line to the throne. Because of their much higher status, higher royal rank, combined 24 years of royal tenure, and having significantly more patronages, it would be unfair to compare the Duchess of Cambridge to these two women – so you’re right, there is no comparison.

  8. Deedee
    March 10, 2014 at 5:40 pm (1 year ago)

    I don’t believe this article for a minute. It’s all speculation. For one, she has plenty of staff to put together her research, do the correspondence, etc. And she’s had, what, 3 appearances so far this year? If she was really doing all this “work” behind the scenes, then we’d see a better product when she does come out–better speeches, more poise (no hands in the hair and ridiculous open mouthed grins), more visits to her handful of charities. If she cared, she’d rolled up her sleeves and done something with the recent floods. If you can’t throw sandbags, at least carry tea to the workers or something! The upcoming tour is hardly grueling, with plenty of rest days built in and mostly “family vacation” type events, like going to the zoo. I have no doubt she’s preparing for the tour in the Maldives by sunning herself, working out and getting massages. Remember how busy they were preparing for the last big tour? The one they had to prepare for in France, which meant skipping the Paralympics in their home country? Believe what you want about what you think they do behind the scenes, but with these two lazy ones, what you see is what you get.

  9. Amy
    March 11, 2014 at 9:39 am (1 year ago)

    I say good for Kate. She gave up all hope of a completely normal life for Wills and Georgie. She does work hard and is under constant scrutiny, I position I do not envy. Her closet however, I do envy ;).
    But that life cannot be easy and I commend her for doing it with grace, genuine smiles and elegance. Go Kate go!

    • Christine
      March 11, 2014 at 11:22 am (1 year ago)

      Closet is definitely enviable ;)

  10. Maria
    March 11, 2014 at 3:44 pm (1 year ago)

    Catherine must be herself ( main point). She is young, elegant, modern and beautiful. She shines for herself and everybody wants to see her. She does her work very, very well. Go on Duchess. People must remember, that Catherine is 10 years younger than Quenn Maxima and Princess Mary. She will be Queen after Charles and Camilla.

    • Christine
      March 12, 2014 at 5:46 am (1 year ago)

      Yes, Catherine has much less experience and rank than Queen Maxima and Crown Princess Mary. I agree that Catherine must be herself, finding her stride in her own time!