Some odds and ends from the week:
- Kensington Palace announced today via Twitter that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expected to visit Poland and Germany this July. It will follow a two-day tour of Paris scheduled for later this month and supports the theory that William and Kate are being used by the government as a means of soft diplomacy in the wake of Brexit to ensure Britain’s position in Europe. As of yet, no longer overseas tour has been scheduled for the couple, opening up the possibility that smaller European visits are the priority right now. A formal tour of a Commonwealth country is certainly still a possibility for later in the year.
- Following news that US President Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK has been postponed to October, it’s being reported that the June slot will be taken by King Felipe VI of Spain and his wife, Queen Letizia. The royal couple were due to visit last year, but their trip was delayed following political instability in Spain when no one party was able to form a government for a 10-month period. Unlike the Trump visit, this one is almost certain to take place in London and include a reception at Buckingham Palace. For those unfamiliar with Letizia, she’s one of the more glamorous figures among the European royals and, no doubt, there will be a call for a photo-op with her and the Duchess of Cambridge.
- Last week the Duchess of Cambridge made a private visit to the Anna Freud Centre where she sat in on family therapy sessions, as revealed by Twitter. As of yet I’ve not seen any photos or too much information, but it does illustrate an important point, which is that many members of the Royal Family are conducting work with their charities separate and apart from their public engagements. Some of that is in the form of private events, while there is still more “desk” work going on behind-the-scenes, so to speak.
- Princess Beatrice has become the Patron of Oscar’s Book Prize, a children’s book award set up in the memory of Oscar Ashton, the son Standard columnist James Ashton, who died in 2012 at the age of three of an undetected heart condition. Beatrice has been candid about her diagnosis of dyslexia, and she wrote for the Standard about her experiences with reading as a child:
I was diagnosed with dyslexia quite early in my childhood and it was noticeable in my reading abilities. Reading was really hard work, even trying to get through the pages of some of the simple school reading books. I could not understand why I was still reading behind my classmates. It was at this point that stories became one of the key things which inspired me. I was lucky that my mother, with her great imagination, took the time to work on these with me. By the time I read Harry Potter, aged 11, I tore through the pages of the magical books […] During my early years my father was in the Royal Navy as a helicopter pilot and spent a lot of time at sea. To help us feel close to him, my mother was inspired to create the ‘Budgie the little Helicopter’ series based on imagining the many adventures brave helicopter pilots would face every day.
- I wrote up a post on a column that ran in the Spectator arguing that the Duchess of Cornwall shouldn’t be allowed to assume the title of “queen” when the Prince of Wales ascends the throne. However, the LTEs that they received in response are well-worth a read.
- And in a little dose of the “Royal Family’s Finances,” a committee of MPs significantly increased the income of the Royal Family this week after a 13-minute debate, which included the approval a £360 million refurbishment for Buckingham Palace. The Palace has famously fallen into disrepair and there has been some public opining over who exactly should pay for its upkeep. BP is certainly one of the Queen’s residences, but it’s also not personal property and the government is responsible for its maintenance in exchange for the profits made by the Crown Estate. It’s also the location of state banquets, garden parties, receptions and banquets, and parts of it are open to the public to visit.
- The Duke of Cambridge was in Wales this week, visiting Abergavenny to launch an award at a local primary school. While there he played games and partook in team building activities with students at Llanfoist Fawr Primary School. He earned some props from locals for making a speech in Welsh during the engagement, video for which can viewed here.
- Meanwhile, it’s being reported that Meghan Markle has joined Prince Harry for the wedding of one of his close friends in Jamaica this weekend. According to one of the Mirror’s sources, “This is the first time that she and Harry have socialised so openly as a couple and is a significant step up in their relationship.” Meanwhile, a number of publications are reporting it likely the two will be engaged by the end of summer, one theory being that Harry will choose to propose on July 1, his late mother’s birthday. So, do with that what you will.