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A year after wedding, British monarchy basks in 'Kate effect'

The Duchess of Cambridge, formerly known as Kate Middleton, enjoys widespread popularity a year after marrying Prince William. 

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In his tour of the Caribbean he even developed an immediate rapport with Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, who has said that his country should mark the 50th anniversary of its independence from Britain by casting off the queen as ceremonial head of state.

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It was not always so rosy for Prince Harry. As Kate’s advisors will have warned her, the public mood can flick like a switch, as it did after the death of Diana and the Queen’s annus horribilis, in which three of her four children got divorced.

The media particularly delights when a member of the royal family trips up. Harry did so in 2005 when he wore a Nazi uniform to a costume party two weeks before Queen Elizabeth led Holocaust memorial ceremonies. He later said it had been a "very stupid thing" to do. There are few Brits who are not familiar with Prince Philip’s most spectacular gaffes, including the time he asked a driving instructor in Oban, Scotland, how he kept, “the natives off the booze long enough to pass the [driving] test?”

Today, such blunders from the younger royals are less likely thanks to a canny team of advisors that has helped the new generation emerge as confident, charming, and popular internationally.

But Kate already knows from experience how fickle media support is. Before her engagement in 2010, Fleet Street cruelly dubbed her “waity Katy” as she continued to date the Prince she had met as an undergraduate at university. Much was made of the fact that her mother, now a successful business woman, was once an air stewardess supposedly known as “doors to manual” by some of Kate and William’s friends.

Though the media has largely respected an official request to desist from speculating about the duchess’s fertility, they are unlikely to hold off for long if the Duchess of Cambridge remains childless.

For Graham Smith, chief executive of Republic, a campaign group for the abolition of the monarchy, the exact state of Kate’s popularity in the media is a lot of hot air.

“She makes no difference at all because, despite the spin about the monarchy being more popular than it was, most people are largely indifferent to her. There is a section of society that gets excited about celebrity but that is no reflection of views about the monarchy.”

A quick straw poll of people on the street, however, suggested that that section constitutes a majority.

“We all like her,” says Muhammed Iqbal, a grocery shop owner. “She’ll be a very proper queen.”

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