So What Does a Princess Really Do Anyway?

She's expected to produce royal offspring, support charities and represent "The Firm"

In just over a week, commoner Kate Middleton will walk down the aisle with Prince William and walk out of Westminster Abbey a princess, changing her life in almost every way.

But other than acquiring some spectacular headgear, what does a princess really do?

Well for one thing, she won't be going back to her old job. Middleton, 29, already has quit her gig as a project manager at her parents' party supply business in preparation for the big role she is about to take on, which surely will be anything but 9-to-5. Instead, she can look forward to a life of supporting charities, attending events and ceremonies, and most importantly, motherhood.

Middleton's primary job will to be to have children, a role that the future Queen herself is looking forward to when she revealed in an interview that, "I hope we will be able to have a happy family ourselves."

Because the monarchy depends on a continuing line of succession, "It's certainly expected that Kate is to produce a royal heir," says Yvonne Yorke, a royal wedding expert for Wedding Central.

Aside from reproducing, as part of "The Firm" -- as the royal family is known -- Middleton can expect to forever be under a blistering bright spotlight, as she will attend a host of official engagements, become a patron of charities and take trips to help maintain ties between the royals and the Commonwealth nations. "She can't just sit at home and watch TV all week," Yorke notes.

Middleton has not yet announced which charities she will support, but gave a bit of a clue as to her interests when she chose organizations to which her guests can contribute in lieu of traditional wedding gifts: an army widows' association, a London zoo project and a children's charity to combat bullying.

As a patron of organizations, Middleton will help raise money for and bring visibility to causes she would like to champion. She also will take part in such activities as reviewing troops; opening hospitals, schools and other facilities; and meeting citizens and assorted charity leaders, Yorke says. Members of the royal family attend hundreds of engagements a year -- between them, they hold approximately 3,000 patronages -- including state occasions, charity events and commemorative events such as important historical anniversaries and milestones.

Middleton's typical work day will likely resemble in some ways those of other members of the royal family. For example, Princess Anne, Prince William's aunt, might spend a morning meeting local business owners; the afternoon learning about a town's economic prospects and opening a hospital center; and the evening attending a charity dinner.

But Middleton will ease into her duties slowly, initially only accompanying the prince, 28, on his engagements. "Prince William wants to initiate her properly into the job, so at first she will not undertake any solo engagements," his spokesman has said.

Though Middleton will fulfill numerous ceremonial roles, as princess she will not get a salary (much as the U.S. first lady does not receive an income of her own). Her prince will financially support her on the about $61,000 he earns as a helicopter pilot in the Royal Air Force, Yorke says, plus proceeds from the $13 million he inherited from the estate of his mother, Princess Diana, not to mention the money he will presumably receive as an inheritance from the Queen.

And while Middleton's public life will likely end up being much like that led by Diana, who was patron of more than 100 charities, Middleton will cut a different figure, predicts Claudia Joseph, who has written two books about Middleton, including Kate: The Making of a Princess.

"Kate will make the role her own," Joseph says. "They are very different people and come from totally different backgrounds. Diana hailed from an enormously privileged, aristocratic, old English family. Kate comes from a family that descends from working-class mining stock."

Joseph adds that Diana was "fragile" and "troubled," when she married Prince Charles at the age of 20. Middleton, on the other hand is "in every sense, more mature, well-grounded and comfortable in her own skin," Joseph points out. "I don’t think she will court the press in the same manner. It is highly unlikely we will see pictures of her in the gym or making friends with royal reporters. She will conduct her role in a more conscientious and dignified manner."

And of course, like every princess, Middleton has one unspoken job that promises to be the best of all: to live happily ever after.

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