I am trying very hard to get accustomed to calling Kate Middleton ‘Catherine.’ On their return to St.Andrew’s, the place where their love story began, last Friday, Prince William declared ‘This is a very special moment for Catherine and me’. So I suppose Kate is now out of date.
It makes me feel as if I am reporting on a different girl. The name Kate seems more friendly. It is one-syllable short, snappy and neatly fits into a newspaper or magazine column.
Just think of all the wonderful Kates we know, like Kate Moss, cute Kate Hudson or even the dazzling Cate Blanchett.
Catherine is much more dignified and regal; nine letters instead of just four. It summons up great women in history such as Catherine of Aragon. Henry VIII’s sad, spurned first wife, or Katherine Parr, his lucky, last queen.
Today we also have the famous film star Catherine Zeta Jones who, coincidentally, was at Buckingham Palace last Thursday receiving a C.B.E while William’s Kate, er, sorry, Catherine, was launching a new RNLI lifeboat.
I’ll never forget my first encounter with the star of The Darling Buds of May and Chicago. Some years ago I bumped into her in the crowd of spectators at a polo match in aid of the motor neurone disease association. She explained she had come with a family friend who was terminally ill with motor neurone disease, I introduced her to the Duchess of York, who was then patron of the MND charity.
The fresh-faced girl from Cardiff was breath-takingly lovely with a wonderfully natural manner, so I wasn’t surprised when she went off to marry a Hollywood prince called Michael Douglas and won an Oscar.
But in the newspaper headlines she is still known as Zeta Jones because that’s shorter. So what are newspaper editors going to do? When mentioning Will’s bride will they switch to a nickname like ‘Cath’ or even ‘Cathy’?
I doubt that very much.
When Lady Diana Spencer first appeared in the spotlight everyone called her Lady Di. When she married she became the Princess of Wales but that name was far too long for newspapers so she was known simply as Princess Diana or Di.
Despite this for the rest of her life the French still referred to her as Lady Di, pronouncing it as Laydee Dee, of course.
She used to get irritated when people yelled ‘Hi Di’, and would snap, ‘It’s Diana, actually!’
In the same way Prince William is stuck with the tag ‘Wills’, which his parents called him when he was a baby. Today his friends and family all call him ‘Will’, as he told me himself when we discussed the subject last year.
So, even if the Queen gives Will a title on his marriage and his wife becomes the Duchess of something-or-other, I doubt it will make much difference. The newspapers will still call her Kate, because it suits them – or rather, suits the narrow columns of their publications.
As far as they are concerned Kate IS great!