In his book Endgame, Omid Scobie unflatteringly describes the Princess of Wales as a “sometimes Stepford-like royal wife” who had to be pushed into public duty.
He goes on to claim she came to earn the unkind nickname “Katie Keen” among courtiers and journalists by dint of her naïve eagerness to please palace officials.
I have no idea if Mr. Scobie was among the 1,300-strong international media army that followed William and Kate on their first official overseas tour in July 2011 that began in Canada barely three months after their Westminster Abbey wedding.
But I was. And, like everyone else in the British press pool, I was immediately struck by the grace and aplomb with which she handled awkward and, at times, potentially dangerous situations.
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I saw at first hand, at a simple tree-planting ceremony on the grounds of the British Embassy in Ottawa, how she deftly – and gently – guided a group of local youngsters closer to our fixed position so we could hear what she and the children were saying.
Such awareness is rare, even with more experienced royals.
I later watched her keep calm and carry on in the face of furious anti-royal protests in Quebec and then join her husband on an unannounced stop in Alberta to comfort families made homeless by wildfires. She and William broke their own schedule to spend extra time with victims.
The royal tour eventually ended in LA, where the then Duke and Duchess of Cambridge became the first royals ever to visit the city’s infamous Skid Row, where extreme violence can erupt in an instant, no matter how many armed guards are in attendance.
The smiles and handshakes she shared there with the homeless, many of them veterans, were as warm and genuine as those she exchanged with everyone else on a tough tour that also took in a private hospital visit.
If all that, in Mr. Scobie’s unfathomable mind, makes her Katie Keen then we should all celebrate the moniker. Who wouldn’t rather be known as keen than mean?