On Friday, January 20, Kensington Palace issued a press release providing confirmation and clarification of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s reported plans to move to London this year. In it they explain that while the Cambridge family has spent the majority of their time in Norfolk since 2014, allowing William to fulfill his duties with the East Anglia Air Ambulance, they will begin to spend more time at KP so as to “continue to increase their official work on behalf of the Queen.”
This wording is some fancy footwork and I like it. Here’s the release, excluding a quote attributed to William on finishing up his work with the EAAA:
Since 2014 The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have used Apartment 1A at Kensington Palace as their official residence when carrying out Royal duties, while basing their family primarily at their home in Norfolk. This arrangement has allowed The Duke to work as a pilot with the East Anglia Air Ambulance, a role he has valued hugely. Their Royal Highnesses love their time in Norfolk and it will continue to be their home.
From this autumn, however, The Duke and Duchess will increasingly base their family at Kensington Palace. As they have in recent years, Their Royal Highnesses are keen to continue to increase their official work on behalf of The Queen and for the charities and causes they support, which will require greater time spent in London. Prince George will begin school in London in September and Princess Charlotte will also go to nursery and eventually school in London as well.
This says three essential things:
- William and Kate will “increasingly base their family at Kensington Palace,” not move there
This is an insurance policy for if and when the couple is criticized for still spending considerable amounts of time at Anmer Hall this year.
- This transition is not an aberration, but in keeping with a trend of consistently upping their Royal duties since 2011
This is a message pillar – KP has and will always say (as they should) that William and Kate are slowly but surely transitioning into full-time Royals as senior members of the family. Part-time duties have allowed William to manage an independent career important to him – not inconsequential experience for a future monarch to have – for Kate to have flexibility during her pregnancies and maternity leave, and for the couple to spend significant time with their children in their formative years. There’s nothing inaccurate about this messaging; it really depends on what your opinion of it is. Personally, I have never found these timing choices troubling.
But I also think this is a slight chin jut at any claims that this move is in response to criticism the couple has received in the past year. Reading between the lines, I hear a vague ring of, “This has nothing to do with you. We’re still doing what we want when we want.” And that might not have been their office’s intention, but for better or for worse, that’s how their critics are reading them, so for God’s sake, watch the tone.
- Prince George and Princess Charlotte will begin schooling in London
There’s nothing to unpack here, but it’s official confirmation that George is enrolled for school in September and that Charlotte will be as well in due course. There was speculation last January when he began a Montessori school in Norfolk that the couple had long-term plans to live primarily at Anmer Hall and educate their children there. This ends that.
Now, let’s discuss timing. This press release was issued yesterday, which also happened to be the inauguration of Donald Trump as the U.S. president, an event that dominated global news coverage. If this was an aberration I’d probably chalk it up to KP not deeming it necessary to factor in American politics, but it’s actually not. The November press release on Prince Harry’s relationship with Meghan Markle was released on the 8th, otherwise known as the day of the American election.
What this means is that this press release is not meant to be read. They know that it will be, but the point of it isn’t promotion, it’s protection. This document was created to be a logistical reference point in the future.
This also isn’t devious or secretive – it’s actually really smart. Kate making an offhand reference to George liking, I don’t know, potatoes will literally generate headlines. Headlines to boring articles, perhaps, but headlines all the same. Limiting their family’s exposure to the media glare not only protects them from the criticism and speculation that a slow news day might prompt, it saves up capital for when they need it later on.
Nothing in this press release is new information that hadn’t already been reported. Thus, yesterday, with all eyes trained on Washington, was a perfectly solid day to issue it.