James Middleton, the younger brother of Kate, Princess of Wales, turned 36 years old today. He lives with his wife Alizee Thevenet, a French financial analyst, in the Berkshire countryside near his parents, Carole and Michael Middleton.
Emma Pruen is a Systemic Relationship Coach and founder of The French Retreat near Bordeaux. She spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk to explain how close James and Alizee potentially are.
Emma said: “Finding a ‘good match’ was never going to be easy for James as he tried to straddle two complex social systems, as a middle-class English entrepreneur and the brother of the future Queen of England, but he has chosen very well with Alizée.
“Any marriage requires a big adjustment as we merge two social or belief systems, and that’s true even if we grew up in the same village.
“When there are big cultural differentials, be it age, religion, nationality or class it makes it all the harder.”
However, as Emma points out, Alizee had a very privileged upbringing meaning that royal circles won’t be unusual to her.
She explained: “Alizée was born in France and lived the life of a diplomat’s child. A diplomat’s emphasis on protocol and discretion along with the very formal French education system and the French obsession with manners and correct behaviour will actually be serving her very well in her new role, and might even put her in the position to help James.
“Short of marrying royalty, finding someone who has lived all over the world in diplomatic circles was the next best thing, it has produced an incredibly discreet wife, who reveals nothing more of her private life than the most experienced royal aide.
“Even the French press, who adore ‘la Française’, are unable to discover more about her parents than she has told us on Instagram.
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“Her upbringing taught her to fit into hugely different cultures, not just integrating the different rules and attitudes of an English mother and a French father, but from living in France, Germany, Indonesia, Chile, France, Belgium and now England, which makes her a natural for life in royal circles.”
James often seemed uncomfortable being known as the brother of Kate Middleton, even opening up about his battles with depression.
He wrote in The Mail in 2019: “I couldn’t communicate, even with those I loved best: my family and close friends. Their anxious texts grew more insistent by the day, yet they went unanswered as I sank progressively deeper into a morass of despair.”
Emma explained whether finding his life partner in Alizee was a benefit for his mental health.
She commented: “When James was at Marlborough, the Wiltshire private school attended by Princess Eugenie and Jack Whitehall, his sister started dating the future King of England.
“Puberty is never easy but doing it whilst his sister became one of the most watched women in England would have had a huge impact on him.
“It might have given him some enjoyable fame whilst at school but nothing could have prepared him for the impact of his big sister becoming royalty.
“His experience of depression is just one sign of the toll it took. He seems much happier now he’s found Alizée.
“Having a beautiful, discreet and unruffled companion beside him at large public functions is just what he needed.
“That she accompanied him to Lady Gabriella Windsor’s wedding in mid-2019, still relatively early in their relationship, is proof of that.
“‘Settling-down’ sometimes has negative connotations but with the emotional roller-coaster ride of James’ teens and twenties that’s exactly what he needed.
“Alizée has helped him settle into his true nature, as a dog-loving Englishman. All he needs now is his own little brood to complete his Good Life.”
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