The Duchess of Cambridge will one day be Queen Consort—and, as the throne gets closer and closer with each passing day, she continually models herself after a role model for many across the U.K. and beyond: Queen Elizabeth, of whom PEOPLE says Kate “looks to the reigning matriarch for timeless wisdom—while putting her own modern spin on the role.”
Her Majesty has been on the throne for over 70 years, a record-breaking amount of time. Kate has formally been in the royal family for 11 years, and informally for much longer, and “Catherine has learned by observing,” says the Queen’s biographer Sally Bedell Smith, speaking to PEOPLE. “She knows what resonates. She will have absorbed a lot from this Queen.”
Though the outlet points out that the two women are 56 years apart by age, “the Queen and Kate share key qualifications for the job: quiet stoicism, unerring discretion, and firm loyalty,” PEOPLE writes. “Their opinions on contentious political issues are never heard, their commitment to the throne is unwavering, and their public images are tightly controlled. Kate also embodies the Queen’s unofficial motto for public life: ‘Never complain, never explain.’”
Though it’s unlikely Kate has received explicit lessons from Her Majesty, historian Sarah Gristwood says that the Queen may have approached her relationship with her granddaughter-in-law the way she does with prime ministers.
“The Queen has always preferred to do rather than say,” says Gristwood, author of Elizabeth: Queen and Crown. “With her audiences with her prime ministers, if there has been actual advice, it would be a discreet ‘I think that went rather well,’ rather than actual instruction.”
Kate has a willingness to adapt to royal life, even mirroring the Queen’s style, be it regularly wearing jewels on loan from Her Majesty or wearing bright colors on royal engagements, just as the Queen is famous for doing.
“It’s a personal willingness to conform to the requirements of the institution,” Gristwood says. “That sounds like an unappealing, unglamorous virtue, but it’s an important one if you’re going to be a successful cog in the royal wheel.”
Someday—hopefully in the far distant future—the Queen’s monumental reign will end. When that time comes, Her Majesty is confident in the job that both Kate and husband Prince William will do in representing the Crown going forward.
The couple “are representing the Queen impeccably,” Bedell Smith says. “They’re showing a kind of dedication she would be proud of. And that probably gives her hope.”