Wellington writer and self-described suburban mum Leah McFall is "kind of appalled" by her own fascination with the female members of the royal family but fascinated nonetheless.
In her back-page Sunday Star-Times column, she's often written about Catherine and Meghan, who are scrutinised so intensely and hysterically that life can't be easy, she tells Noelle McCarthy.
Royal women have always been examined very closely and their behaviour reflects coded messages about cultural expectations, Leah says.
"So much is read into fashion and body language, 'cause it's really all we've got to go on."
Man Booker Prize-winning writer Hilary Mantel even weighed in on the presentation of royal bodies in a controversial 2013 essay.
Royal women's "silence, emotional distance from the public and apparent lack of personality" is a survival tactic, Leah suggests.
The "famously buttoned up" Queen Elisabeth II, who we know very little about even though she has been a public figure for 92 years, embodies this approach.
Even though society has become "quite impatient" with the princess 'myth' or 'fantasy', it still has power, she adds.
"If you spend time at all with young children … you'll see princess fantasies are still very much a part of their imaginative lives."
Leah had a baby six months before the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to her first child George in July 2013 – only to appear hours later on the steps of the hospital, with an immaculate floral dress, blow-wave and smile.
"It was kind of depressing for me that that was being presented… it didn't represent any inch of progress. I found it heaped pressure on new parents to be camera-ready."
Although Meghan Duchess of Sussex hails from California "the home of open emotion", she's also expected to not show too much public emotion in her new role, Leah says.
Meghan and Harry's wedding was both a "triumph and a PR success" which fed into hopes for a more progressive royal family, Leah says.
Their "non-traditional" local, seasonal, organic, Instagram-friendly lemon elderflower wedding cake was not just a cake.
"This was the first royal wedding where we've actually seen an injection of the bride's personality into the day."
The now-pregnant Duchess of Sussex was recently criticised for "cradling her baby bump" in a surprise appearance at the 2018 British Fashion Awards.
Meghan should still be enjoying "a purple patch of popularity" and this kind of media backlash against her has come very quickly, Leah says.
The former actress and "self-made woman" has an air of celebrity quite unlike the austere fame of the royals, Leah says.
"She had her own click-to-buy blog site [The Tig] where she had basically monetised her own personality and leveraged herself into quite glamorous circles… she really understands how to manipulate her brand."
Leah McFall talks to Jesse Mulligan about her book Karori Confidential here.