Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Kate Middleton's former employer tells all

It may have been a short lived career in fashion (an even shorter venture into being gainfully employed) but it seems that even Kate's former employer was impressed by her time there. The article started off ok, with all the niceties you'd expect from a polite business owner talking about their high-profile ex-employee, but scratch the surface and what lies beneath would send a shudder down the spine of any independent woman.

The article, published in This Is London, was a profile piece on Belle Robinson, co-owner of Jigsaw. Belle revealed the extent of her relationship with the Middleton's as well as some handy tidbits about Kate's time there. To some it was perhaps an attempt at giving Kate some well needed positive PR. Instead it seems to have backfired with some readers.

Mrs Robinson expressed surprise at the rumours surrounding Kate's employment at Jigsaw and readily admits to not knowing much of her former employee: "I'm amazed at how much people have made of a very simple thing. I don't know Kate well. Some people asked us if we were happy for Kate and William to go and stay in our holiday house in Mustique with some friends. They're not allowed to pay for it but in return they would make a donation to the local hospital. And I said: 'Yeah, fine.'"

Startlingly, Mrs Robinson also revealed that Kate had a quasi commercial deal with Jigsaw before working there: "Kate supported a couple of Jigsaw events we did." One such event was the opening of Jigsaw's newest Bluebird shop in 2006. Whilst there Kate happily chatted to reporters and posed for photographers, going against her frequent claims of press harassment and assertions that she's not seeking attention.

Earlier in May 2006, The Observer newspaper revealed that Kate was to be a brand ambassador for Jigsaw. The Pendennis column author, Oliver Marre wrote: "Following last weekend's news that Kate Middleton and Prince William enjoyed a rent-free holiday at the rambling house in Mustique belonging to the owner of the Jigsaw clothing chain, rumours are rife that Middleton is now to sign up as a brand ambassador for the company."'

Another rumour quashed by Belle was how Kate gained her position at Jigsaw. It was initially thought that Carole Middleton had used her friendship with Belle to organise a job for Kate. In fact, it was Kate herself who secured the position. Belle said: "Then she rang me up one day and said: 'Could I come and talk to you about work?'" So far from being a familiar person at the Middleton's home, Oak Acre in Bucklebury Berkshire, Belle revealed that she hardly knew Carole and Michael, having only met them 4 times. She said: "A lot of people have distorted it to say we're friends with her parents but I've only met them four times."

So with those "rumours" cast aside Belle continued on with her quest to tell all. In what would shock most women, Kate it seems couldn't/wouldn't work fulltime because if her relationship with Wills. The Jigsaw owner told This Is London: "She genuinely wanted a job but she needed an element of flexibility to continue the relationship with a very high-profile man and a life that she can't dictate. She's going to be dictated to when she's needed and not needed." This echoes the accusations that "Waity Katey" as she has become known, is "on call" for William. It's perhaps this aspect of Kate's life that most annoys some royal fans.

So with Kate firmly entrenched in her 3 day working week with Jigsaw, Belle tried in vain to convince the readers that Kate wasn't precious and that she "mucked in". Belle said: "She sat in the kitchen at lunchtime and chatted with everyone from the van drivers to the accounts girls. She wasn't precious." Excellent news. But what did she actually do when there? Belle failed to say. Perhaps it's because (as was reported earlier) Belle doesn't know Kate well.

This "mucking in" goes against what other Jigsaw workers have said regarding Kate's time there. A supposed "friend" of Kate's told the Daily Mail that the Jigsaw gig was not that important: 'It was a job of convenience, a stop-gap.' One of her former workmates at Jigsaw was a little more generous, telling the Daily Mail: "Kate is a nice enough girl but she was never what you might call committed to the job. She never worked full-time and appeared to take an inordinate amount of time off to go jetting round the world with her boyfriend. It certainly rubbed a few people here up the wrong way. To be told she would be resting for a while 'looking at other things' didn't exactly come as a surprise. She has always been treated as a special case."

Not surprising some royal fans was the revelation that Kate chose to place herself in front of the press on occasions. Mrs Robinson said: "And I have to say I was so impressed by her. There were days when there were TV crews at the end of the drive. We'd say: 'Listen, do you want to go out the back way?' And she'd say: 'To be honest, they're going to hound us until they've got the picture. So why don't I just go, get the picture done, and then they'll leave us alone.' I thought she was very mature for a 26-year-old, and I think she's been quite good at neither courting the press nor sticking two fingers in the air at them. I don't think I would have been so polite." Some may argue that this was Kate's way of getting the media to leave her alone. But it seemed to fail with the media contingent swelling and increasingly following her. Why would the media stop when their "target" is giving them what they want? Backdoor exits are regularly used by celebs and royalty to escape the waiting media scrum and for a woman who cried harassment on more than one occasion, her willingness to greet the press front on is strange to say the least.

For what it was worth, Belle Robinson stressed that there were no hard feelings over Kate's resignation and that she fully understood why it was that Kate didn't want to work fulltime. Phew!

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