How Kate Middletons newlywed brother James is a secret source of comfort to Prince William

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The Duchess of Cambridge – alongside her husband Prince William – watched her beloved younger brother marry in France at the weekend. When James Middleton, 34, married the "love of his life" in France on Saturday, in a village in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, there was no way his much-adored royal relatives would not be there to see him tie the knot.

While the challenges Prince William has faced with his relationship with his own brother Harry have been well documented over the years, and especially of late since Harry's controversial move to the States, far less has been said about how William has quietly relied upon Kate’s brother James for support over the decades

James, who is the entrepreneur behind an organic dog food brand, has always got on extremely well with Kate’s husband. William appreciates the fact James is fiercely loyal to Kate, 39, and the future king enjoys the normality of the Middleton family life.

James is the youngest brother of Kate and her sister Pippa Middleton, and the three are part of a close-knit family.

"We're a close family and we see each other and speak on the phone all the time,” James has said. And he has spoken in the past about how, despite Kate and Will's 2011 wedding being watched by two billion people worldwide, for him it felt like a far more intimate affair. "The most wonderful thing about the wedding, which will stay with me forever," said James, "is that even though millions were watching, it felt like a family wedding."

Family always comes first for the Middleton clan, who haven't put a foot wrong since Kate first began a relationship with William when they were both History of Art students at St Andrew's University.

And James takes his role as uncle to Prince George, 8, Princess Charlotte, 6, and Prince Louis, 3, very seriously. He told an American news site that "I just want to be the best uncle possible, like any uncle wants to be."

Aware of the weight of royal obligations and duties Prince George will one day have to shoulder, James understands the importance of a ‘normal’ influence he can offer to the young Prince, and admitted he was keen to be “the cool uncle, the fun uncle!"

His sentiments echo those of William’s fun-loving late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, who famously encouraged her sons to let their hair down in-between their royal duties.

James – who suffers from dyslexia and clinical depression – has also spoken honestly and bravely about his own battles with mental health in the past. He credits his dogs and walks and wild swims as being fundamental to his recovery.

"Nature is central to our psychological and emotional health," James has said. As a lover of both animals and the outdoors, William and Kate’s brother have many shared interests and passions and country dog walks over the course of their steady friendship.

While not frequently pictured together, their close bond and James’ secret source of support is well known by those behind Palace Gates.

It was James who gave Kate and Will's their beloved pet Lupo – who died last November – and James who also provided the royal couple with a replacement puppy after Lupo's passing.

And tellingly, the engagement ring James picked for his new bride, was similar to the one Kate wears from William (which of course once belonged to his mother Diana. Both have a large dark stone at the centre surrounded by smaller stones on a white gold or platinum band.

Which surely must be one of the highest compliments James can pay to the future king.

James's wedding to French financial analyst Alizee Thevenet, 31, had to be cancelled twice due to Covid restrictions. But third time lucky it was able to go ahead this weekend. Afterwards, James gushed online: "Words cannot describe how happy I am."

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William – a fellow dog lover – is also thought to be grateful that he and Kate were not the guests of honour – the bride and groom's dogs were – with golden retriever Mabel even photobombing their wedding pictures.

It's this very lack of being given special treatment for who he is that Prince William has cherished over the decades with his brother in law.

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