Friday 19 July 2019

'I lead a separate life to them' - Kate Middleton's brother James on his world upending after her royal wedding

(L-R) Pippa Middleton and James Middleton attend day four of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 5, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
(L-R) Pippa Middleton and James Middleton attend day four of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 5, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Pippa Matthews and James Middleton in the stands of court one on day nine of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon
Pippa Matthews (L) and brother James Middleton sit on centre court to watch Spain's Rafael Nadal play Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin in their men's singles second round match on the fourth day of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 5, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS /
James Middleton arrives for the 20th GQ Men of the Year Award at Komische Oper on November 8, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Isa Foltin/Getty Images for GQ Germany)
Pippa Matthews arrives with her husband James Matthews (left) and her brother James Middleton arrive for the wedding of Princess Eugenie to Jack Brooksbank at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle
Photo: Matt Holyoak/Camera Press
James Middleton arrives for the 20th GQ Men of the Year Award at Komische Oper on November 8, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Sebastian Reuter/Getty Images for GQ Germany)
Pippa Matthews and James Middleton applaud Kyle Edmund after his win on centre court on day four of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon
James Middleton and Lady Laura Marsham arrive for the christening of Prince Louis Photo credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Pippa Matthews and James Middleton applaud Kyle Edmund after his win on centre court on day four of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon
Pippa Matthews and James Middleton on day four of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon
(Left-right) Michael Middleton, James Matthews, James Middleton, Pippa Middleton and Carole Middleton arrive to attend the morning Christmas Day service at St Mark's Church in Englefield, Berkshire.
James Middleton, Vogue Williams and Spencer Matthews during ladies day of the 2018 Investec Derby Festival at Epsom Downs Racecourse, Epsom
Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

Kate Middleton's brother James said he leads a "separate life" to his royal in-laws and has opened up at length about how his world was upended after his sister's wedding in 2011.

James was 23 when Kate wed long-term boyfriend Prince William at Westmisnter Abbey in 2011, he was a fresh graduate of University of Edinburgh, and still hadn't quite figured out what his career aspirations were; but felt his business prowess was criticised around the world.

"Suddenly, and very publicly, I was being judged about whether I was a success or a failure," he told Tatler magazine. "That does put pressure on you. Because in my mind I’m doing this irrespective of my family and events that have happened."

Over the last eight years, while Kate adopts an even more central role in the British royal family as she is being prepared for her future as queen consort when William ascends the throne, the Middletons have pulled away from the limelight in a bid to keep life as normal as possible for them.

Although he runs in the same upper crust social circles, he emphasises his independence from his sisters and royal in-laws.

"I lead a separate life to them. If there's interest in me, great. If there's interest in me because of them, that's different," he explained.

Earlier this year, Middleton (32), who is even more low profile than his sister Pippa, came to the fore when he spoke at length about his experience with depression, describing it as a "cancer of the mind", expressing his guilt at struggling with mental health when he lived a life of privelge.

"It’s what keeps you in bed, while anxiety makes you feel guilty for being there," he said. "I thought ‘What do I have to be depressed about?’ I’ve been so lucky with my upbringing, I had all the things I wanted. It’s not that I wanted more, but there was something that wasn’t always there... And the more I ignored it, the more it was taking over."

(Left-right) Michael Middleton, James Matthews, James Middleton, Pippa Middleton and Carole Middleton arrive to attend the morning Christmas Day service at St Mark's Church in Englefield, Berkshire.
(Left-right) Michael Middleton, James Matthews, James Middleton, Pippa Middleton and Carole Middleton arrive to attend the morning Christmas Day service at St Mark's Church in Englefield, Berkshire.

In a piece for the Daily Mail, the Boomf business owner wrote at length about his mental health and said he was inspired by the work his sister and Princes William and Harry were doing with Heads Together, which inspired his decision to speak out and destigmatise the issue.

"During the day I’d drag myself up and go to work, then just stare with glazed eyes at my computer screen, willing the hours to tick by so I could drive home again. Debilitating inertia gripped me. I couldn’t respond to the simplest message so I didn’t open my emails," he wrote in the Daily Mai.

"All colour and emotion had leached out of my world and everything was grey and monotone. I know I’m richly blessed and live a privileged life. But it did not make me immune to depression. It is tricky to describe the condition. It is not merely sadness. It is an illness, a cancer of the mind."

Middleton went to describe his feelings as a "complete failure" which plagued him with self-doubt and a "sense of worthlessness and desperation" which led to him feeling increasingly isolated, despite having a loving support network of family and close friends around him.

"It’s not a feeling but an absence of feelings. You exist without purpose or direction. I couldn’t feel joy, excitement or anticipation – only heart-thudding anxiety propelled me out of bed in the morning. I didn’t actually contemplate suicide, but I didn’t want to live in the state of mind I was in either," he said.

It's clear that James has never pursued the limelight or used his sister's royal status to further his personal life, but he is an example of using the public interest in his personal life for the greater good and that by sharing his story, he may help someone else in the same position.

(Left-right) Michael Middleton, James Matthews, James Middleton, Pippa Middleton and Carole Middleton arrive to attend the morning Christmas Day service at St Mark's Church in Englefield, Berkshire.
(Left-right) Michael Middleton, James Matthews, James Middleton, Pippa Middleton and Carole Middleton arrive to attend the morning Christmas Day service at St Mark's Church in Englefield, Berkshire.

"People have asked me, too, if my public profile has made it harder for me," he said. "Would I have become so depressed if I hadn’t been subject to the pressure of public scrutiny that comes with my association with the Royal Family?

"The answer is, I believe I would. But I wouldn’t have found a voice or an outlet for my story if it hadn’t been for the people I’m related to. And that puts me in a unique position of privilege and trust. I feel I have a duty to speak out, so I can help others who are suffering as I did."

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