LONDON – Sparkly sapphire ring and matching blue silk dress? Check. Flowing chocolate hair, artfully flicked? Check. Straight back, regal demeanor, winning smile? Yes, she’s got it all. Her name, of course, is Kate.
Except this is a copy-Kate, not Prince William’s bride-to-be. Kate Bevan is a model who looks remarkably like future princess Kate Middleton. Together with her prince for the day, fellow model Andy Walker, Bevan’s latest assignment is to help sell knitted dolls named after the royal couple at a London toy fair.
Bevan, 21, and Walker, 25, are among dozens of young people making a living – a career, even – out of pretending to be the royals. With the couple’s April 29 wedding day fast approaching, demand is surging for Kate and Wills look-alikes for corporate parties, TV commercials and PR events.
That’s great for model agencies – but here’s the problem: There are plenty of adequate Kates, but hardly a good William in sight. It seems it’s extremely challenging for amateur actors to capture the unusual blend of royal confidence and humility that William projects.
“There are lots of pretty girls in the U.K., and (Kate’s) is quite a traditional look, quite English. William is a bit trickier,” said Helena Chard, an agent with Susan Scott Lookalikes Ltd., which represents some 8,000 models.
Chard said her agency has received a pile of applications from men keen to pose as the prince, but very few come close to having the chubby cheeks, toothy grin and thinning hair that make a good William double. Above all, they lack the elusive quality that defines the way the prince walks and talks.
“It sounds terrible to say, but perhaps it’s all about good breeding,” Chard said.
Her agency has about 40 Kates and just 10 Williams, including Walker, a former security manager with closely cropped dark blond hair and a fair, slightly ruddy complexion. Walker is from outside Windsor, the historic English town that’s home to Windsor Castle, and the elite Eton College, where William went to school.
“It is a bit surreal, isn’t it?” Walker said while taking a break from posing with Bevan for photographers.
Walker has quit his day job to impersonate William full time, and his jobs have included posing with other fake royal family members to meet and greet guests at a lavish corporate party thrown by a French company. He has two other PR stunts lined up in the next week, he said.
“My old job was much less glamorous,” he said. “I’d much rather be doing this.”
The job calls for much more than looks – the copycats need to be “in character” and act like royals, too.
Walker said that to play William he tries to speak very clearly and slowly, as well as become more aware of what it’s like to be in the public eye. He’s also considering taking acting classes to prepare for future jobs.