Summer doesn’t even officially begin until Friday, but the scorching heat is already bearing down on the royal family.
At least the actual weather is only expected to be 66 degrees.
Despite all the happy milestones—Prince Harry and Meghan Markle becoming parents, the queen’s grand 93rd birthday celebration, Prince Philip turning 98, Duchess Camilla going viral with an epic wink—the things that aren’t going entirely right (or at least not as expected) continue to monopolize the headlines.
No wonder Buckingham Palace is in the market for a new communications officer with a mastery of social media.
These days there are more moving pieces than ever when it comes to crafting and disseminating the right message—and for Britain’s royals, that’s a message of optimism, modernity, empathy, foresight, stoicism and, ideally, unity.
That last bit is the one that’s been getting lost in the mail more frequently lately as royal watchers gear up for an expected formal announcement that Harry and Prince William‘s Royal Foundation will no longer be the philanthropic vehicle for both brothers. They launched their organization in 2009 and were joined first by Kate Middleton and, more recently, Meghan Markle in their endeavors.
Harry and William have already split their households, with William and Kate remaining at Kensington Palace and Harry and Meghan moving their office to Buckingham Palace, as well as themselves to Frogmore Cottage in Windsor.
According to The Times, included in the recent $2.4 million renovation of Frogmore Cottage (which sits on the royals’ 33-acre Frogmore estate) was upward of $60,000 in soundproofing measures, as the roar of planes coming in for a landing at nearby Heathrow Airport is audible at all hours.
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Many seasoned royal experts have maintained that there’s nothing untoward about Harry and William going their separate ways professionally, especially since Harry has his own family now and he and Meghan will have their own charitable priorities and a shared vision for how to get things done.
“I think that it would be a lie to say that things weren’t patchy with William and Harry at one point, but to call it a feud, to call it a fall-out, is far too extreme,” royal commentator Omid Scobie said on Yahoo UK’s The Royal Box earlier this month.
“I think the best thing that could have happened for them was to now be in their separate households, working separately, being able to come together for special family moments and social occasions.”
But since historically the emphasis was always placed on the sons of Prince Charles and the late Princess Dianaworking together, and since William, Kate and Harry had already successfully joined forces on major initiatives such as the mental health awareness program Heads Together, the question of why the two couples couldn’t reorganize a few things under the same roof remains a pressing one.
And there’s no shortage of fascinating explanations.
There’s the one about Queen Elizabeth II‘s office wanting to keep an eye on Harry and Meghan. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were already denied the prospect of going off entirely on their own, hence their headquarters being moved to grandma’s house.
“The intention is to ensure what they do is coordinated with the rest of the household, so you don’t get an Independent State of Frogmore,” a source told the Times. (The palace was swift to insist last month that the Duchess of Sussex had no input whatsoever on the May CBS special Meghan and Harry Plus One, which featured interviews with a handful of Meghan’s friends.)
Then there’s the one about bad blood still simmering because William expressed reservations to Harry before his little brother proposed to Meghan in 2017. Asking “are you sure?” doesn’t exactly sound terribly offensive, but maybe it was in the tone. (Though it’s not as if he told Harry, “One steps out with actresses, one doesn’t marry them,” as Prince Philip supposedly did.)
According to The Times, the fraternal grudge could go back even further, all the way to Harry possibly being dismissive of the Middleton family when Kate and William got serious—which sounds fishy now, because Harry has always been known to adore Kate, but if one-off comments made years ago really pack that much of a punch for this family, anything is possible.
But with all that Harry and William have been through, including seeing their parents messily separate and then losing their mother, wouldn’t it make more sense if they were all up in each other’s business, wanting to make sure that the other wasn’t making bad decisions?
“Thank heavens to date the strains have only been the natural thing between brothers,” a member of their team told royals biographer Penny Junor in 2014, when Harry was simply a devoted uncle to one nephew, Prince George. “And unlike quite a lot of brothers, they can go and have a beer together and say, ‘Okay, you do the conservation, I’ll do the veterans.’ That’s literally how it sorted itself out.
“Jealousy is not a word in Prince Harry’s lexicon: he doesn’t get jealous. He’s remarkable like that.”
Besides, in this day and age, with the royals under pressure to both preserve their legacy and blaze new inspiring trails that keep the monarchy relevant for subsequent generations, the young ones can’t be letting petty slights influence their long-term plans. If they’ve learned anything from the queen, it’s how to play the long game.
“…I think there’s a real danger that if they both settle down in five years’ time, working side by side as young royals, cutting lots of ribbons, they will die of boredom shortly afterwards and I don’t think that’s in the public’s interest either,” a friend of Harry’s told Junor before he had, in fact, settled down.
“Of course one can take a slightly pious view and say they have so many privileges they ought to pay them back. Sure, but I wouldn’t want their life and neither would anyone else I know.”
But at the end of the day, it’s William who has the future on his shoulders.
“William has always known he has to take on the lead role,” Sir David Manning, former British ambassador to the United States, told Junor. “He’s got to be prepared or preparing—even if not consciously all the time—for a very clear end state. Harry’s got freedom to choose; he can do all kinds of things.”
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There was a report recently that Harry and Meghan might move to Africa to further extricate themselves from the day-to-day in Britain but also to open the royal equivalent of a satellite office to expand on the charity work Harry’s been doing for years on the continent.
While that seemed connected to the current rumored feud, there had been talk for years before Harry met Meghan about him possibly relocating to Africa.
“He’s not going to be living in Happy Valley in Kenya and having a high old time,” the aforementioned friend told Junor. “His commitment to Sentebale [supporting the mental health of children and young people affected by HIV in Botswana and Lesotha] seems pretty serious; I think he really means that to be his future, or a very large part of it; so if he combines a charity he cares a lot about and a continent he cares a lot about, maybe he never formally moves there but spends more and more time there…”
Insiders were quick to point out that there would be no permanent move to Africa.
“Britain is their home and where they want to raise their family,” a friend of the Sussexes told BAZAAR.com. “If they are to work abroad it would be a short stint.”
More recently ITV reported that Harry and Meghan are planning an official tour of several African countries this October. (They’ll almost certainly bring their son. Including a royal baby on an overseas trip is a tradition started by Diana, when she insisted on bringing an 8-month-old William to Australia with her and Charles rather than leave him for weeks).
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But before they go anywhere, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor will be christened—always an event that brings close families together. (And even if it doesn’t, there’s no reason to panic; the queen missed great-grandson Prince Louis‘ christening last year because she had a previous engagement on the books, and we’re already hearing she won’t be at Archie’s.)
Much like Archie’s birth, the formal christening plans are being kept under wraps, except that it’s going to be in July. The Daily Express reports it’ll take place at St. George’s Chapel, where Harry and Meghan wed last year—and where Harry was christened in 1984.
When by then 2-month-old Archie is baptized into the Church of England, he’ll likely don the Honiton christening gown, a replica of the one made for Queen Victoria‘s eldest child, a version of which has been worn by 62 royal babies so far, including Archie’s first cousins Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
Harry and Meghan were at Louis’ christening last July and it certainly wouldn’t do the family any public favors were William and Kate to not be at Archie’s—but they are indeed expected to be there.
The foursome were together earlier this month for the annual Trooping the Color fanfare officially marking the queen’s birthday, which also served as Meghan’s first public appearance since introducing Archie to the world on May 8, two days after he was born.
Kate and Meghan were very chatty during the carriage ride from Buckingham Palace to the Horse Guards Parade, a source told E! News, noting that once the sisters-in-law were there, Meghan closely watched Kate to make sure that her own royal protocol—bowing her head at just the right time, etc.—was on point.
The source also said last week that most of Archie’s little cousins, including Kate and William’s children and Zara and Mike Tindall‘s daughters MIA and Lena, had had a chance to meet him.
Meghan is on maternity leave and, though Harry went right back to work, he has been confining his schedule to engagements that only take him away from home for a few hours a day at most so he can spend as much time as possible with his wife and child.
There have been reports that they hired a nanny, but she doesn’t live at Frogmore full-time, and we’re told they’ll probably hold off on hiring full-time help for a few more months.
“Family life could not be more perfect for [Harry and Meghan],” a close friend of the couple told Harper’s Bazaar. “Ever since Archie arrived they haven’t stopped smiling. The sleepless nights are totally worth it.”
While it’s unclear whether she wrote it before or since becoming a mom, Meghan contributed the foreword to Mayhew’s annual report that came out this week, the animal shelter and rescue charity being among her new patronages as a member of the royal family.
The Sun reported last week that Meghan was also going to be photographed at home and serve as a guest editor for the September issue of British Vogue, but the palace had no comment on that rumored commitment.
Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Kate Middleton, meanwhile, has been pounding the pavement as spring turns into summer, designing a garden for the Chelsea Flower Show; making a cameo on the BBC children’s show Blue Peter to announce a sculpture-design contest; attending a dinner with Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood for Action on Addiction, a charity she patronizes; appearing Monday at the Order of the Garder service; and writing an open letter for Together for Short Lives’ Children’s Hospice Week, another patronage.
Not all of it backwards, but most of it in heels.
Kate and William were also in attendance at the state dinner the queen hosted this month for President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump, which went off perfectly well but came in the wake of Trump saying “I didn’t know that she was nasty,” when an interviewer informed him that Meghan had indicated a few years back that that she wasn’t a fan.
That turned into a whole thing (to be fair, he really did seem to be referring to the comments she made, not her as a person) and it appeared to some that Harry kept his distance during a reception, although he and Trump did meet at some point and the president called the prince “a terrific guy.”
About Meghan, whom he did not meet on this trip, Trump told ITV after the uproar, “I think she is very nice. Honestly I don’t know her. So I have to be honest—I don’t know her. She was nasty to me. And that’s OK for her to be nasty. It’s not good for me to be nasty to her and I wasn’t.”
Both with a full slate of work duties and with three children at home, William and Kate pretty much have to schedule alone time, and they popped into the Inn on the Lake in Ullswater for tea for two last week, a short break from a day of engagements in Cumbria.
While the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are a relatively low-drama couple as far as two international celebrities go, they haven’t remained entirely unscathed when it comes to the more salacious headlines that tend to afflict the famous.
Though it didn’t gain reputable traction, there were some tabloid murmurings earlier this year about William supposedly being unfaithful—nothing pernicious enough to make the palace issue a public denial, but enough so that the story traveled across the pond. The Daily Beast also reported that at least one British publication was sent a legal warning—that sort of step being something the young royals are more likely to take than the previous generation, which was more inclined to try to wait a scandal out.
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“Kate finds the rumors hurtful, obviously, and hates the thought that one day her children will be able to read about them online,” a Middleton family friend told Us Weekly recently. At the same time, the story “forced her and William to sit back and examine their relationship, which they realized they should have been doing more often.”
So while the building was being inspected, they wisely decided to focus on the foundation.
William and Kate, who have been together for over a decade, celebrated their eighth wedding anniversary on April 29.
“It’s not unusual to have a few hiccups in a marriage, especially after eight years, and Kate and William are no different,” another insider told Us. “They’re still going strong. Regardless of their ups and downs, they love each other dearly and their kids are the most important thing in their lives.”
So, Harry and Meghan aren’t the only couple who are hoping to have a peaceful summer, airplane noise aside.
The opening for a communications post at Buckingham Palace (daily lunch included!) seemingly involves work for Harry and Meghan as well as the queen and Prince Philip because the job description included a mention of overseas travel, which Her Majesty seems to be leaving to the younger set these days.
“You’ll handle queries from the press, prepare editorial website content, as well as manage the media for Royal engagements and official events in the UK and overseas,” the notice read. (Funny how “queries” makes those impertinent questions sound so much nicer.)
“You’ll be supporting the official duties of a number of different members of the Royal Family,” the notice continued. “The reaction to our work therefore is always high-profile, and reputation and impact will be at the forefront of all that you do.”
That could be a job description for the royals themselves.
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