Kate Middleton's Princess Counseling Is Creepy

Illustration for article titled Kate Middleton's Princess Counseling Is Creepy

Kate Middleton is reportedly getting counseling to help her ease into her upcoming royal role. Some preparation sounds like a good idea — but therapy mandated by the royal family is also kind of...unsettling.

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Middleton doesn't even marry her prince until April, but her psychological state is already a subject for public debate. A source told the Daily Mail that "the royals are desperate not to have another downward spiral of a marriage and they feel Kate has very vulnerable and soft spots. Apparently she was destroyed when William broke up with her (in 2007)." But according to Ingrid Seward of Majesty magazine, "Everyone can see she's not like Diana. She's not a troubled girl from a broken home. She's a very easygoing, happy well-adjusted girl." That may be true, but Prince William apparently wants to safeguard his bride-to-be from the suffering his mom felt — so he's ordered up "counseling" for her. As the Mail puts it, "As part of carefully laid plans initiated by Prince William, she will have 'training sessions' to avoid the depression and isolation felt by Princess Diana, who felt abandoned and unloved by Charles within months of their wedding."

In addition to briefings on royal etiquette and procedure, Middleton will receive "pointers on how to cope with playing second fiddle to a husband whose first priority is his country, not his family," according to the NY Daily News. Some tips on dealing with the ways her life will inevitably change in April are probably a good idea — and maybe all celebrities would fare better if they received a little pre-fame counseling. At the same time, the idea of said counseling being managed by the royal family is a bit disturbing. A former aide to Princess Diana explains the need for Middleton to get in step with what the royals want:

If they want her to be a wife, a pretty face, to keep quiet and stay in the background — get that straight now, not in the future...If they want here to be more active and carry on the role Diana-style — let's get that straight too.

And according to the Daily Mail, part of Middleton's princess prep will be meeting with Prince Edward's wife Sophie. "A 45-year-old former PR guru and firm favourite of the Queen," she'll reportedly "help Kate to avoid some of the pitfalls she suffered, such as being caught in a newspaper sting making disparaging statements about the Royal Family." So is Middleton's counseling really about her psychological health, or is it about turning her into the kind of princess her betrothed's family wants her to be?

There's just something a little Yellow Wallpaper-y about getting therapy to better fit in with your fiance's family — especially if said family happens to rule Britain. Of course, knowing the Daily Mail and the general rabid attention paid to the recently-affianced pair, it's possible that all this is totally overblown — maybe the rumored counseling will just be a few chats over tea and scones. But the fact that it's become big news just makes it extra-weird — it can't be fun to see various "sources" speculating about your mental health and your probability of entering a "downward spiral." At this rate, Kate Middleton's going to need therapy just to deal with the rumors about her therapy.

Kate Middleton Gets 'Counseling' To Avoid Depression Princess Diana Suffered: Report [NY Daily News]
Kate Middleton To Be Given Counselling To Avoid Depression That May Be Caused By Being The Future King's Wife [Daily Mail]

DISCUSSION

winn
Winn

I notice a lot of "what's the problem?" comments here, and perhaps semantics is the issue. Is this psychological counseling, since its described as a preventative to depression and isolation, or is it a psychoeducational program to prepare her for the incredible pressures, expectations and unavoidable loneliness and relentless scrutiny of her new life? There's a big difference, and as a therapist, the idea of a prospective spouse "ordering up" psychological counseling is profoundly disturbing. This is not being described as joint or couples counseling, but counseling specific to her. So if it is intended to be therapeutic, that gives me tremendous pause, because it denies her agency, autonomy, her own assessment of her mental well-being, and her own agenda and volition in entering into a therapeutic alliance. It also denies the role her spouse will play in how she adjusts to life as a royal, and as a married person.

Psychological counseling can be an important part of maintaining emotional and mental health and well-being, and it would be great if more people took advantage of preventative, prophylactic therapy (although what managed care plan would cover it, I have no idea). But it can't "prevent" depression or isolation, any more than having money, a great job, a happy marriage, or being thin can. There are so many variables that determine a person's mental health; therapy is not the equivalent of a flu shot.

Lastly, perhaps Diana felt "abandoned and unloved by Charles within months of her wedding" because she realized he was still in love with Camilla Parker-Bowles, and that she was doomed to a largely loveless marriage in the constant glare of the public eye and under the weight of enormous expectation. Combined with a difficult family history, is it any wonder she struggled to cope? I suspect that perhaps the nature of the marriage itself will play a role in whether or not it turns out to be a "downward spiral of a marriage", and only William and Kate can determine that.