#tbt: My interview with the legendary Katie Nicholl
Last month I published an interview with internationally famous Royal correspondent Katie Nicholl, but, in my youth and inexperience as a blogger, buried it under a two-week recap of Royal happenings that took place while I was on vacation from July 1 to July 15. So, to honor the fabulousness that is Katie Nicholl, I wanted to rerun the interview today for anyone that may have missed it the first time. Enjoy!
The Duchess Commentary: Tell me about your background. Were you always interested in the Royal Family, even as a child?
Katie Nicholl: Yes, I think I was. My mother brought me up with an awareness of the Royal Family and to have respect for the Royal Family. I grew up, like most little girls, absolutely enthralled and enchanted by Princess Diana and devastated by her death. I was not a journalist at that point – I was still at university – but I was absolutely awestruck by the enormity of the tragedy of Diana’s death. I always knew I wanted to be a journalist, since age 11; I originally wanted to be a war correspondent rather than a Royal correspondent, but my career took a different direction. I definitely had an interest in the Royal Family and a fascination with the British media from a young age.
TDC: How did your career begin covering the Family?
KN: I ended up at a party with Prince Harry in 2003. I was a showbiz reporter at the time working for the Mail on Sunday. I was at a party at Kensington Roof Gardens and had gone out to get fresh air; he was outside having a cigarette in the doorway. He invited me in to his party, and I think that lit the touch paper. I had a fascinating ambition to write about their lives. I was really impressed by Prince Harry as a person – he was so charismatic and charming. Here he was, one of the most popular members of the Royal Family, and he should have been rising for A levels but instead was partying and drinking. I liked him enormously. Both princes at the time were dating and living different lives, and I was mingling with similar sort of social circles, so I had unprecedented and incredible access into their lives.
TDC: What is the most memorable event you were a part of? What makes it so?
KN: The most memorable was William and Kate’s engagement. I had just gotten back from a big tour of America and Canada promoting my first book, William and Harry, in 2010. As I touched down [in London], my Blackberry exploded. An e-mail from Clarence House had dropped as I was landing that the couple was engaged. I headed straight from Heathrow [Airport] to Buckingham Palace and broadcasted for the entire day. I was privileged to be invited for tea with the couple at St. James’s Palace, and that was an incredible moment in my career. I had written about the couple for so many years, and to properly meet them and congratulate them in person, to see the excitement on their faces and to see Kate wearing that iconic ring of Diana’s – Kate was very nervous, but there was such an excitement and joy about that day. That, as well as meeting the Queen during her Diamond Jubilee and covering that, were the highlights of my career.
TDC: I am a huge fan of all of your books. What work are you the most proud of? Why?
KN: Probably my first book. Anyone who has ever written a book knows it is such a labor of love and such a huge investment of energy and time. My first book was a bestseller on the New York Times Best Seller list, and it remains the most definitive book of the princes at that time in their lives, growing up as Royal princes and taking an insightful look into them as people at that point – how they changed as they grew up, I revealed their first loves, early girlfriends, relationships, family dynamics, what made each of them tick, their similarities and differences, and their relationship with each other. It was a fascinating book to write, and there’s a great sense of achievement when you’ve written your first book. Nothing beats the feeling of seeing your book on sale at bookstores; it’s a dream come true.
My second book, The Making of a Royal Romance, charted the relationship of William and Kate. I loved writing that book; it was a very enjoyable book and also did well.
I also enjoyed researching the book Kate: The Future Queen. That was the hardest to write, because I discovered a real lockdown when it came to trying to get information about Kate’s past. I did manage to open up some doors and speak to people who had never been spoken to before and to reveal aspects of the future queen’s life that was not known about. It was a challenge, but ultimately very rewarding.
When I wrote Harry: Life, Loss, and Love, it was the right time to write a book on Harry. I was told when I started writing in October 2016 that his relationship with Meghan was actually quite serious, so I changed the focus to incorporate their relationship and courtship, and by the time the book was on newsstands [in March 2018], we had an engagement and a Royal Wedding.
TDC: I feel as though Kate has really come into her own this year. Do you feel like she is settling into her role as future queen consort? How?
KN: I agree with you. She looks absolutely confident and poised, and that is reflected in her demeanor and what she’s wearing. There’s a new confidence in her wardrobe. [This confidence] is mostly to do with the fact that she is the mother of three beautiful children, and she clearly loves being a mum and is amazing with her children – that’s why we are seeing a happy, confident duchess who is really thriving and excelling. William is being prepared for his future role as the next Prince of Wales, and Kate is very aware of her future position and very well-equipped for her future role, making sure she is, in many ways, a role model for women out there. She has found, I think, philanthropy and work she wants to focus on with young children and mental health. This is groundbreaking. So yes, while it’s taken her a while to find her niche, she has found it, and I see a lot more of her this year. She’s found the rhythm between her home life, her children, and her public persona; it is a constant juggle, but she’s got her balance right. [I love to] see both of them so upbeat and happy.
TDC: How do you feel Meghan is fitting in to the Family?
KN: I think she is fitting in remarkably well. Marrying into the Royal Family is no easy thing to do. People think it might be easy – the Duchess of Cambridge makes it look very easy, but don’t forget she had 10 years of courtship before she married, and that’s a lot of time to get used to it. Meghan has had a bit of baptism by fire and has been very unfairly criticized. She is doing things differently than [everyone is] used to, but she’s done remarkably well and has really impressed the Queen with her work ethic. The Queen likes her very much, Charles likes her very much, and she is quite popular for how she loves Harry. She is empowering the Royal Family and, in a way, giving [the Family] an international presence it didn’t quite have on the same scale before. She is doing a lot of great things, and I like her dynamic. She’s fascinating. She’s got a huge amount of potential to soar to new levels; yes, she does things differently, but Diana was a trendsetter, and it’s not a bad thing for the Royal Family.
TDC: What is your take on rumors of discord between William and Kate and Harry and Meghan?
KN: We’ve all heard the rumors, but my understanding – and I have good sources – is that the fallout was predominantly between the brothers. There was a period that was quite difficult, but they’ve come through that period and sorted it out, and it is much improved now that Meghan and Harry have their own space, their own house, and their own household staff. That has made things a lot better. I never bought the rumors about the girls. It’s true to say they’re not the best of friends, but they don’t have a huge amount in common. They are both kind people – I just don’t believe the bitchiness and catfights. They just don’t have a huge amount in common. I hope motherhood bonds them together. They are both in that unique position of marrying into the Royal Family and are Royal moms. They’ll need the support of one another over the years.
TDC: Today, July 1 [the day we spoke] is Diana’s birthday. What do you think she would say about the modern Royal Family?
KN: Diana would be hugely proud of both of her boys and over the moon that they’ve both found these incredible women – strong, intelligent, beautiful women, women that have fallen in love with them because of who they are as people, rather than who they are as HRH. I love the way they’re continuing to do what she did so amazingly, breaking the mold and doing different spotlights on different causes other might not want to do. She would be enormously proud of the boys and quite upset at rumors of feuds between the four of them. I think she would have had words with the boys, telling them they are brothers and to stick together. That’s what she always told them. She would be happy that they are both so happy and married, and over the moon to be a grandmother.