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First year in ‘The Firm’

- No misstep by Kate yet
Kate greets a six-year-old cancer patient in Canada in July 2011

London, April 29: So far, so good. Prince William and Kate Middleton, who were married on this day at Westminster Abbey last year, watched by possibly a billion people across the globe, were today marking their first wedding anniversary.

A St James’s Palace spokesman would only say: “They will spend the weekend with friends who have a celebration.”

William and Kate, or the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as they are now called (even though they attended St Andrew’s University in Scotland), are considered to be good for the monarchy.

However, among wiser heads in royal circles and elsewhere, there must be concern that excessive media intrusion may make Kate lose her sense of balance, as happened with the mother-in-law she never met — Diana, Princess of Wales.

At a time of declining newspaper circulation in the UK, Kate has also been good for the media. Hardly a day passes when her picture is not on page one. Almost all media groups have brought out colour supplements to mark Kate’s first year as a fully paid-up member of “The Firm”, as the Queen and Prince Philip like to call the royal family.

The monarch is celebrating her remarkable 60 years on the throne. As part of the diamond jubilee celebrations, royals have carved up the world for flag-waving visits. William’s younger brother, Harry, has already done the Caribbean.

India would have been an excellent choice for William and Kate but everyone wants them. After their marriage and a honeymoon in the Seychelles, their first tour as a couple was to Canada.

Then they went to California where they knocked the spots off Hollywood royalty. In September they will tour Singapore, Malaysia, Tuvalu and the Solomon Islands.

A time will come when William and Kate will come to India but details were announced today for a visit from April 30 to May 6 by Prince Andrew, whose speciality is promoting British trade and business.

The Duke of York usually gets it in the neck from the British media but he does work hard to promote British interests.

According to an official statement, Andrew “will begin his visit in New Delhi. In addition to official calls, HRH will view the Agragami project, dedicated to improving the lives of some of Delhi’s most vulnerable families.”

“The Duke will travel to Kohima, Nagaland, to visit the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery,” it continued.

The statement said: “In Calcutta, the Duke will have a number of engagements including visit to a child-care home and vocational education centre run by the Women’s Interlink Foundation.

It will be a minor miracle if even a line from Andrew’s Indian trip makes it into the tabloids. Even the quality newspapers may not find too much space for him if at all.

The obsession is with Kate. Even Lupo, Kate’s black cocker spaniel, attracts more column inches. Her pet dog keeps her company in the couple’s cottage in Wales while William is away on duty as a Royal Air Force (RAF) search and rescue pilot. Someone in the ministry of defence had the bright idea of sending him to the Falklands for six weeks, which had the effect of enraging Argentina which claims the islands.

Newspapers have correspondents who follow Kate full time. To be sure, there are differences with Diana who was all of 20 and had no formal education to speak of while she married her highly developed 32-year-old husband.

Kate got married at 29. William, who is a few months younger, had been at university with her. So far, in a year of marriage, she hasn’t put her foot wrong which put the Queen’s achievements in proper perspective. In 60 years on the throne, when she has often stuck up for the Commonwealth and for India, she has hardly put a foot wrong.

As for Kate, much of the past year has been spent on dressing up and becoming a British fashion symbol. She has also picked four charities to support, including Action on Addiction; the National Portrait Gallery; the East Anglia's Children’s Hospices (Each); and The Art Room, which helps troubled children through art.

In royal circles, there is relief William has picked someone who appears to be completely normal.

Some of the reporting on Kate is highly speculative. One report today said: “There is an expectation that the Duchess will get pregnant in the not-too-distant future.”

How the reporter discovered this is not shared.