I hope you will forgive me the impertinence of writing to you directly. Rest assured, I spent several hours consulting the Debrett’s Internet Website on the proper way to address you, even managing to resist, in the process, an advert for a spring planted basket in the shape of a windmill. You see I do loath it when newspapers take the liberty of calling you Kate, as if you were some actress or pop singer merely famous for your talent, as opposed to whom you married.
Doubtless you are inundated with mail, at least if this corner of Surrey is anything to go by. My neighbour, Miss Hughes, managed to triple the circulation of her quarterly Cats in Need charity newsletter just by getting her grandson to photoshop a distressed Siamese into the place of your beige LK Bennett clutch bag for the cover.
But Good Lord, I digress. I have just realised, to my horror, that I am three tenths of the way down this sheet of my best Watermarked Cream Wove writing paper, and I have yet to get to the point (my husband, Jeffrey, constantly berates me for going off on a tangent, which reminds me: as soon as I have finished this letter, I must pick up his dinner jacket from the dry cleaners). You see, I am writing to give you some advice on motherhood, ahead of the much-anticipated happy occasion. As one Englishwoman to another, I couldn’t resist passing on the following words of hard-won wisdom:
1. Nothing gets rid of stretch marks entirely. Nothing. Accept them as a badge of honour, a lasting testament to the miracle of new life; either that, or try rolling in lard.
2. I trust Royal protocol will rule this out, but just in case: do not succumb to the horrible American trend for baby showers, or – I struggle even to write these words – “gender reveal” parties. One, because they are crass, and two, because they deflect from the true purpose of pregnancy, which is to get your own way.
3. Capitalise on your pregnancy. Capitalise on it for all it is worth. For example, I waited until I was six months pregnant with my first child to persuade Jeffrey that we should have the living room redecorated in a fetching Lilly of the Valley wallpaper, and to confess to my mother that I had broken her favourite ceramic owl. If you feel like being not only the Duchess of Cambridge, but of Cambridge, Canada and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, now is the time to ask.
4. If you have a little girl, why not name her Constance?
5. Make sure your children love you more than they love their nanny. This can be accomplished through devotion, patience, kindness, and making a fright mask of the nanny’s face topped off with Donald Trump’s hair.
6. Nothing tugs at the heart strings like sending your first-born off to boarding school: the hopeful, upturned face; the crisp uniform; the surge of maternal pride that your progeny is taking his first independent steps in the world; the momentary horror when you realise that he is taking them with a piece of jam on toast crammed into his pocket. To cope with any despondence you may feel afterwards, I recommend lying in a dimly lit room reading newspaper headlines – nowadays, I imagine the Website of the Daily Mail would suffice – until you have lost all sense of ordinary human emotion.
7. Do not walk past the Harrods Christmas Shop’s festive display of champagne flutes accompanied by a child carrying a plastic pirate’s cutlass.
8. You, of all people, need not be reminded of this, but in an age where emotional outbursts are rife, one can never be too careful: you must teach your children the British way. To wit: they should keep a stiff upper lip; get back on their horse as soon as they have fallen off it; eat boiled vegetables with a cheerful smile; believe they are the best in the world but insist, with a slight stammer, that they are the worst; and, in later life, scoff at the idea of “therapy” and address any deep-rooted psychological problems with fresh air and gin.
9. If you have a little girl, it may be unwise to leave her alone - even for a mere ten minutes, or the time it takes to check if the housekeeper has hoovered underneath the sofa – with a set of poster paints, child-friendly scissors and unfettered access to your new summer wardrobe.
10. Buy a parrot. Inexplicably, my children do not visit as often as they could, but I have a faithful companion in my magnificent Eclectus, Darcy. Children may fly the nest, but parrots are forever.
And that is all. Wishing you health, happiness and, if I do not presume too much, the time to send a small cutting from the rhododendron in the gardens of Buckingham Palace by return of post,
Your humble servant,
Following Constance Harding on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lemonfool