Kate Middleton Is 'No Shrinking Violet' in Wake of 'Spare': 'She Is a Tough Woman,' Says Friend

The Princess of Wales is "getting on with the job because that's what she does," says a friend

Britain's Prince William, Prince of Wales (L) and Britain's Catherine, Princess of Wales attend a pre-campaign launch event, hosted by The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, at BAFTA in central London on January 30, 2023.
Prince William and Kate Middleton. Photo: EDDIE MULHOLLAND/POOL/AFP via Getty

Kate Middleton is moving forward following the release of Prince Harry's memoir, Spare.

While the Princess of Wales has stayed silent on her brother-in-law's bombshell book, which portrayed her as cold towards him and Meghan Markle, she is "no shrinking violet," a family friend tells PEOPLE in this week's cover story.

"She is a tough woman. It is wonderful that William has Kate by his side to rely on, as she is a real stalwart through this," the friend says.

Another friend tells PEOPLE, "So much has been said that at this stage, I think they just want to move on. The whole situation is very sad, but it's business as usual, and she's getting on with the job because that's what she does."

Prince William, Prince of Wales and Catherine, Princess of Wales during their visit to Royal Liverpool University Hospital
Prince William and Kate Middleton. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

As King Charles III's May 6 coronation looms less than three months away, the royal family is now navigating the choppiest waters since the 1990s, when Prince Harry and Prince William's mother, Princess Diana, divorced Charles and tragically died in Paris in 1997.

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Behind the scenes, discussions are underway onhow to work out a reconciliation between the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the royal family. There's "fatigue" at the consequences of the brothers' estrangement, as one insider puts it, and recognition that something — or someone — must bridge the divide.

Royal correspondent Valentine Low, author of Courtiers, tells PEOPLE that while King Charles is eager to have the situation "calm down" in time for his coronation, Prince William has felt the full brunt of the book more harshly than his father.

"He will be furious about the betrayals of confidences," says Low.

Prince William, Prince of Wales, Catherine, Princess of Wales, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex seen inside the Palace of Westminster during the Lying-in State of Queen Elizabeth II on September 14, 2022 in London, England.
Prince William, Princess Catherine, Prince Harry, Meghan Markle. Christopher Furlong/Getty

According to a source close to the royal household, "William is the one who is most upset and needs time to calm down. He has been painted as hotheaded and unsympathetic. But I don't think he will back down — it's whether they can move beyond it and accept that they view things differently."

Fraught family relationships are, of course, a major concern, but the future of the monarchy is the ultimate priority of the royal family — and the pressure is on to modernize amid a rising tide of anti-royal sentiment.

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Senior royal family members have thrown themselves into their first engagements of the year, with King Charles, Queen Camilla, Prince William and Princess Kate taking on several outings across the U.K.

Kate stepped out solo last week as she launched her new initiative Shaping Us, an awareness campaign on the importance of early childhood, as she further defines herself in her role as the Princess of Wales.

Catherine, Princess of Wales laughs with students and faculty on the Childhood Studies programme at the University of Leeds
Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales in Leeds. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

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"It is almost insulting to ask, 'When are they going to kiss and make up?' " royal historian Robery Lacey tells PEOPLE says of the strain that separates some members of the royal family from Prince Harry and Meghan.

"There have been some very grave disagreements between them. But the Platinum Jubilee [in June 2022] and the funerals of the Queen and Prince Philip did demonstrate that they could put personal enmity aside for the sake of the bigger cause," he says. "And that is what the coronation will be all about."

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