With little over a week to go, it’s hard to imagine anything stopping William and Kate walking down the aisle—but that wasn’t always the case. Up until their engagement was announced, it was assumed that one woman stood in Kate’s way: her mother.
According to the British press, Carole Middleton is at best a figure of fun and at worst a ruthless social climber who engineered her daughter’s ascent to royalty. If you believe her critics, Middleton possesses a manipulative streak that would make Machiavelli weep. If Kate is a fairytale princess then her mother is Cinderella’s wicked stepmother, willing to stop at nothing to ensure that her daughters get to the ball and dance with the Prince.
Newspapers that should know better gleefully reported that Prince’s friends nicknamed the former air stewardess “Doors to Manual,” (a jab at her old job) and listed in minute detail her every transgression of an etiquette that most of us never knew existed. No mention is ever made of her husband’s faux pas, although how Michael Middleton’s more solidly middle class background prepared him for being the father-in-law of the future King of England is questionable.
It highlights the double standard that is still at play: men are ambitious, women are pushy. If a man pulls himself up by his bootstraps, his struggle is celebrated. If a woman tries the same, she’s ripe for public mockery.
Unless the press has yet to unearth something really juicy, Carole Middleton’s only crime has been to send her daughters to private school and maintain a friendly relationship with her future son-in-law. There’s been no cover-up, no desperate attempt the fact that her forebears worked in coal mines—although, given the way the media initially recoiled from a future queen whose mother worked for British Airways, you couldn’t really blame her if she had.