The Truth About Kate Middleton's Relationship With The Queen

When Prince WIlliam announced his engagement to Kate Middleton in 2010, she became one of the most closely watched international celebrities — and since very few people outside of the UK knew her name before the engagement announcement, this happened more or less overnight.

Since then, there's been all sorts of speculation about whether or not Kate has endured the same acrimonious, difficult relationship with the Windsors that the late Princess Diana struggled with until her death in 1997. Tabloid headlines like to scream out juicy details of alleged wars between Kate and the Queen — but, while royal rules and regulations almost certainly make their relationship more difficult to navigate than the typical interactions with in-laws, it appears Kate and the Queen actually have a warm, positive relationship.

The Queen's relationship with William

The Queen's relationship with Kate is, in large part, based on her relationship with Prince William — so, with that in mind, let's back up for a moment and discuss Wills and his grandma.

After Diana's death in 1997, the Queen stepped up to help support her grandsons, both in the immediate aftermath of their mother's tragic death and, later, as they grew into adulthood. William reportedly has a close relationship with his grandmother, saying, "She's my grandmother to me first and then she's the Queen."

And their relationship has grown stronger as he's gotten older. "There's no question you can ask, and no point you can raise, that she won't already know about," said William. "She's very up for that sort of thing. And for me particularly, the young bloke coming through, being able to talk to my grandmother, to ask her questions and know there's sound advice coming back is very reassuring."

The Queen doesn't want to repeat the past

In addition to William's strong relationship with his grandmother in the wake of Diana's death, the Queen is apparently "acutely aware that there must be no repeat of the past." The late Princess Diana often said that she felt like an outsider once she was part of the royal family, and the Queen is reportedly eager to prevent the acrimony, exclusion, and scandal that plagued Charles and Diana's doomed marriage. To that end, the Queen has made sure to welcome Kate and develop a positive relationship with her beloved grandson's wife.

The Queen helped with, and was thrilled about, William and Kate's marriage

William's close relationship with the Queen came in handy in 2011, when William and Kate were planning their wedding: the couple had drawn up a guest list of their close friends, but Palace officials had drawn up "an official list of 777 names — dignitaries, governors, all sorts of people — and not one person I knew," according to William. He wound up calling the Queen to resolve the issue, and she told him to toss the list of people William had never met — and to "start with your friends and go from there."

On the day of the royal wedding in 2011 (full disclosure: I woke up at 5 a.m. that day so I could watch it in real time), the Queen was reportedly, in the words of one bishop, "the happiest I have seen her." Family friends backed up the bishop's observation, saying that the Queen was "positively playful" that day and "literally skipping."

Now, I'm no relationship expert, but I suspect that if Kate and the Queen were "at war" with each other as the tabloids allege, the normally composed, reserved royal wouldn't have been so playful and giddy on the day of William and Kate's wedding.

The Queen updated and reissued royal protocol for Kate

Shortly after William and Kate were married, the Queen — knowing that Kate was still learning the ropes of royal rules and procedures — revised and updated the Order of Precedence, a document which details royal etiquette and social protocol. The "rules" were last revised when Prince Charles married Camilla Parker-Bowles, and the Queen reportedly circulated the updated document in an effort to help Kate navigate the transition to being a royal.

The Queen has opinions on Kate's fashion choices

The only issue that has potential to be contentious is fashion, since the Queen does weigh in on Kate's clothes and shoes (although to be fair, she has done the same for William). The Queen reportedly isn't a fan of Kate's wedged shoes: "She really doesn't like them and it's well-known among women in the family," and apparently Kate has put those shoes (rumored to be among her favorites) on extended hiatus as a result.

Prior to William and Kate's 2014 tour of Australia and New Zealand, the Queen also apparently recommended that Kate swap out her fitted, above-the-knee dresses for a sleek couture wardrobe featuring lower hemlines and a more grown-up look. The longer hemlines were also recommended to prevent a repeat of Kate's inadvertent Marilyn Monroe moment during the royal couple's 2011 trip to Canada, when a gust of wind lifted the Duchess's short yellow dress and revealed her underwear to the press corps.

The Queen also offered the help of her personal dresser, Angela Kelly, to help Kate prepare for the trip, and asked Kelly to help Kate select gemstones and statement jewelry from the Queen's personal collection.

"She's a gentle guidance"

Kate has even opened up about how the Queen has helped her adjust to life as a royal, saying that the Queen is "a gentle guidance" and "so generous and not...forceful at all in her views."

During Kate's first Christmas as a member of the royal family, she said she was, "worried what to give the Queen as a Christmas present, [so] I thought back to what would I give my own grandparents and thought, 'I'll make her something,' which could have gone terribly wrong. I decided to make my granny's recipe of chutney. I was slightly worried about it, but I noticed the next day that it was on the table," Kate said.

The Queen has helped Kate on her walkabouts, too. Illustrating the Queen's guidance, Kate explained that "The most memorable day for me was during a visit to Leicester. I went without William so I was a little apprehensive. But that day, the Queen took time to make sure I was happy and looked after on that occasion."

William and Kate are making changes that used to be unthinkable

As time has passed, William and Kate have been the driving force behind making some crucial changes to royal life. In an effort to give their kids as normal of a childhood as possible, Wills and Kate are eschewing the typical royal parenting approach of leaving it all to a team of nannies and nurses — and are instead choosing to be much more hands-on and actively involved in George and Charlotte's lives.

One significant change — which to non-royals seems small but represents a seismic shift within the Windsor family — is that William and Kate have started spending Christmas Day with her family. The typical Windsor Christmas at Sandringham is spartan and solemn, with gifts being exchanged on Christmas Eve so the next day can be spent attending church, sitting down for a formal luncheon, and watching the Queen's Speech on TV — this is, apparently, the one and only time that the daylong ban on TV is lifted at Sandringham.

In 2015, Will and Kate attended church with the Queen and the rest of the royal family, but then hosted a separate lunch at their country home, Amner Hall, for George, Charlotte, and the Middletons. This year, they skipped the whole thing altogether — a move that would have caused great consternation, scandal, and pearl-clutching before now — and instead opted to spend a relaxed family day at Kate's parents' house.

Ten years ago, it would've been unheard of for a senior royal to opt out of their Christmas duties in order to spend time with their wife's middle-class family, but the Queen is said to be quite relaxed about the change in plans.

As Will and Kate modernize, the Queen adjusts and approves

While the rules and regulations of being a royal have always been — and in many ways remain — very strict, Will and Kate are seen as the driving force behind efforts to modernize the monarchy and relax some of the House of Windsor's arcane rules. Adding to which, the Queen is apparently determined not to have the sort of difficult relationship with Kate that she had with Diana. Diana laid the groundwork for the modernization and relaxation that Will and Kate are implementing now, and while the Queen was notoriously uncomfortable with Diana's efforts, she's very much on board with Kate.

Things have changed dramatically since Kate and William first started dating back in 2002, and the Queen is reportedly "more open to new ideas now than ten, 20, 30 years ago," according to one senior palace official. Another close confidant put it differently: "Everything's changed but the headscarf."