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21 photos that prove Prince William and Kate Middleton are trying to change their public image

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prince william kate middleton youtube channel screenshot
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in their first YouTube video. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge/YouTube
  • Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's interview with Oprah Winfrey damaged the royal family's reputation.

  • Now it appears that Prince William and Kate Middleton have changed their public-relations strategy.

  • They've been more affectionate in public and have opted for engagements with children and sports.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Prince William and Kate Middleton were always considered far more formal than Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

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William, Middleton, Markle, and Harry attend Christmas church services in 2018. Joe Giddens/PA Images/Getty Images

As the future king and queen consort of England, the Cambridges will always have a different set of rules and expectations than Harry and Markle ever did as senior royals. But Eric Schiffer, an expert on celebrity brand management, told Insider that when it came to the couple's public-relations strategy, Middleton and William took "little risk" before Markle and Harry's interview with Oprah Winfrey in March.

"They were manicured to the nth degree," he said, "and played their public persona with a Buckingham Palace excellence, out of the playbook that's been mastered for centuries."

Before the pandemic, William and Middleton almost never posted videos on their official Instagram page. If they did, it was usually a slideshow of photos or a clip played over one of the prince's formal speeches.

The Cambridges also rarely showed affection toward each other in public, believed to be in line with royal etiquette.

But Markle and Harry's explosive interview with Oprah hurt the royal family's reputation.

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Harry and Markle during their interview with Oprah. CBS

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex dropped several bombshells during the two-hour interview. Markle said Middleton had made her cry over a flower-girl dress (not the other way around, as some publications had reported), while Harry said he and William were "on different paths."

Markle and Harry also said that they received no support from the royal family when Markle began experiencing suicidal thoughts and that some royals had "concerns" about their son's skin color.

Schiffer told Insider that the interview released a "giant smoke bomb" that affected the royal family's reputation while boosting Markle and Harry's global image, helping them connect "with people's humanity and their own struggles."

"It created this contrast, and Harry and Meghan's PR strategy, in essence, is to be the unanointed modern-day royals of the populace," he said. "This is a populist strategy."

Days after the Oprah interview, William and Middleton shared personal family photos on their official Instagram page.

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A cake that Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis made for Mother's Day in the UK. DukeandDuchessofCambridge/Instagram

On March 14, Mother's Day in the UK, the couple posted pictures of cards and a cake they said their children — Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis — had made to remember Princess Diana.

"For those experiencing bereavement, today may be particularly challenging," one of the captions said. "Each year on Mother's Day, George, Charlotte and Louis make cards remembering their Granny, Diana, for William."

That week, Middleton visited children at a school in London that had reopened after the UK eased lockdown restrictions.

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Middleton interacts with a child during a visit to School21 on March 11. JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

Clare McHugh, a royal historian, told Insider that Middleton and William's swift new PR strategy was one that the royal family has used since Queen Victoria and Prince Albert took the throne in the 1840s.

"That was a revolutionary moment in Europe when all sorts of monarchies were being overturned," McHugh said. "They had to find a way to make the monarchy seem more appealing so that it would stick around.

"So they fought back by showing, oh, no, the monarchy is just like you," she added. "They showcased their children much more than any monarch had done before."

On March 23, Middleton and William visited Westminster Abbey, where they tied the knot in 2011.

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William and Middleton visiting a coronavirus vaccination center at Westminster Abbey in London. AARON CHOWN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Weeks before their 10th anniversary, the Cambridges returned to Westminster Abbey, which had been turned into a coronavirus vaccination center.

Middleton appeared to pay tribute to the church's history by sporting a white knee-length coat. The couple also walked down the same aisle that they walked down on their wedding day.

On April 27, Middleton and William played with children and animals at a farm in Durham, England.

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Middleton strokes a lamb at Manor Farm on April 27. Owen Humphreys - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Middleton and William were photographed having a blast during their visit to Manor Farm. Middleton learned how to drive a tractor and was seen happily petting a lamb with one of the farmer's daughters.

It would be just one of many visits where the couple engaged with children and animals as they ramped up their public appearances in April and May after the UK eased lockdown restrictions.

That day, Middleton was photographed laughing as she played golf with children in Durham.

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Middleton plays golf with young people at the Belmont Community Centre in Durham on April 27. Andy Commins - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Middleton and William met with children supported by the Cheesy Waffles Project, a charity for youth and adults with additional needs across Durham.

The Cambridges were also seen laughing and bantering during the outing.

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William and Middleton laugh while playing golf together at the Belmont Community Centre. Andy Commins - WPA Pool/Getty Images

William and Middleton had been quite formal with each other in public. But in recent months they've been far more affectionate.

On April 28, Middleton and William released anniversary portraits that showed them in a far less formal light.

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William and Middleton's anniversary portrait. Chris Floyd/Camera Press via Getty Images

The couple ditched their traditional poses from previous years' photos and even wore more casual clothes.

Their poses seemed partially inspired by Markle and Harry's intimate engagement photos from 2017.

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Middleton and William were photographed by the celebrity photographer Chris Floyd. Chris Floyd/Camera Press via Getty Images

In one of the photos, Middleton's elbow rests on William's leg as they hold hands. As Insider's Talia Lakritz pointed out, the pose is nearly identical to one of Markle and Harry's engagement pictures.

Middleton and William also released a video celebrating their 10th anniversary. It showed the couple being affectionate with each other and doting on their children as they played on the beach, climbed trees, and made s'mores over a campfire.

On May 5, William and Middleton revealed that they were launching a YouTube channel.

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in their first YouTube video. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge/YouTube

The couple announced their channel with a 30-second clip that featured the duke and duchess bantering and showed scenes set to upbeat music.

Many people were shocked that the Cambridges were embracing YouTube, but a source close to the prince told Vanity Fair that William was "more relaxed" about the press and more willing to embrace social media.

William played soccer with a group of kids during a visit to The Way Youth Zone on May 13 in Wolverhampton, England.

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William plays soccer at The Way Youth Zone on May 13. Jacob King - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Middleton and William were also photographed playing table tennis against each other with some of the children.

During that visit, the couple were seen laughing together as they took part in a gardening session.

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William and Middleton at a gardening session at The Way Youth Zone. Jacob King - WPA Pool/Getty Images

William appeared to be goofing around — much to Middleton's amusement — during the session.

That day, the royal couple sat on beanbag chairs as they spoke to kids at Loxdale Primary School in Wolverhampton.

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Middleton plays with a rabbit during her and William's visit to Wolverhampton on May 13. Adrian Dennis/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Middleton played with Milly the rabbit as the couple spoke about mental-health awareness.

On May 26, the Cambridges competed on a land-yachting course at the University of St. Andrews, where they first met and fell in love.

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William and Middleton ride land yachts at the beach in St. Andrews, Scotland. Phil Noble - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Middleton was photographed laughing as she tried to beat her husband on the course.

One news outlet said the couple were "smiling lovingly and laughing" during the outing.

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William and Middleton on the West Sands beach at St. Andrews on May 26. Samir Hussein/Pool/WireImage

The story also said William "even affectionately put his hand on Kate's back in a tender moment we don't often see from the perfectly poised heir."

That day, Middleton and William hosted a drive-in movie night for National Health Service workers at the Queen's palace in Edinburgh.

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William and Middleton arrive to host NHS staff at a drive-in cinema at the Palace of Holyroodhouse on May 26. Samir Hussein/Pool/WireImage

"The royals are very active at the moment to try and reach a wider generation," Richard Fitzwilliams, a royal historian, told Insider. "They interact a great deal more with the public. There's an approachability. There's a friendliness. Kate radiates confidence.

"There's a feeling that unquestionably they've not only got it together, but also as a couple they interact with such tremendous confidence and charm," he added.

Middleton was pictured talking with a group of girls as she visited local fishermen and their families during her and William's weeklong Scotland trip.

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Middleton speaks with children in Fife, Scotland, on May 26. Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images

The Duchess of Cambridge traded her usual stiletto heels for a pair of sneakers during the visit.

On May 27, the Cambridges were once again photographed playing sports with children.

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William and Middleton play tennis with schoolchildren at the Craiglockhart Tennis Centre in Edinburgh on May 27. Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images

Middleton and William were all smiles as they played tennis with schoolchildren who were part of the Lawn Tennis Association youth program in Edinburgh.

William and Middleton have shared videos of many of their recent public engagements, including this one, on their Instagram. Gone are the overly formal slideshows with William's speeches. Now we're seeing the duke and duchess laughing with each other and the public in their social-media clips.

"It's very interesting to me that in the wake of the Oprah interview they have really adjusted their style," McHugh said. "They realized if they don't, they'll be overshadowed by this couple living in California, so they have to show themselves. They have to reveal who they are more, because that's the currency now. So they let the anniversary film out, and they have YouTube, and they make jokes. It's a new world."

That day, the Cambridges met with a young girl with cancer at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

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William and Middleton meet with Mila Sneddon, 5, on May 27. Jane Barlow/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Mila is featured in Middleton's "Hold Still" photography project, which showcases how people across the UK got through the early days of the pandemic.

"Through Hold Still, I wanted to use the power of photography to create a lasting record of what we were all experiencing — to capture individuals' stories and document significant moments for families and communities as we lived through the pandemic," Middleton wrote in an Instagram post announcing the project.

On June 11, Middleton laughed as the Queen cut a cake with a ceremonial sword during the G7 summit in Cornwall, England.

Queen Elizabeth cuts cake with sword while Kate Middleton looks on
Queen Elizabeth II considers cutting a cake with a sword as Middleton watches and laughs. Oli Scarff - WPA Pool/Getty Images

The humorous moment seemed to indicate that it isn't just Middleton and William who are trying to help change the royal family's image.

Read the original article on Insider