Well, well, well, I wasn’t expecting to post today in preparation for all the activity planned later this week, but here we are. Today is Commonwealth Day, held annually on the second Monday in March, on which the 52 Commonwealth countries celebrate their unity and diversity. It’s also one of the most significant events on the Queen’s calendar each year, marking her honor for the “family of nations.” Today she launched a relay race from Buckingham Palace before moving to a multi-faith ceremony at Westminster Abbey attended by various members of the Royal Family including the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke of York, the Earl of Wessex and Prince Harry.
You know who wasn’t there? The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. And that’s fine; they weren’t necessarily expected to be. But you know where they also weren’t expected? A ski holiday. Look, I really don’t want to write this post and, frankly, I’m getting 2016 flashbacks, but here we are.
First, the good news: The events themselves went smoothly. It’s always fun to see multiple generations of the House of Windsor on display at once, and it’s good to see that the Queen still appears in good health, having recovered from the bad flu she had over the Christmas holiday. Harry was in rare form greeting visitors before and after the ceremony. Multiple outlets picked up a conversation he had with a group of pre-teen girls who asked if him he was the “real” Prince Harry, remarking that he looked like pop artist Ed Sheeran. Hilarious, lovely, great.
The bad news: William was spotted in Verbier, Switzerland over the weekend on a short ski holiday with a group of friends*. It’s believed that Kate stayed at home with their children and that William may have arrived back in England some time yesterday afternoon. In addition to being photographed at a co-ed lunch (which has naturally turned into William having a ball with a couple blondes sans Kate), he was also seen at a nightclub for several hours that evening. When asked for a comment, Kensington Palace responded:
“The duke and duchess have attended the event for the last two years and look forward to doing so often in the future. […] His schedule was private and we would not comment on it.”
For some further context, William and Kate have attended Commonwealth Day for the last two years, an event which drew participation from nearly every other senior Royal. The only other notable absences were the Princess Royal who was carrying out an engagement and the Countess of Wessex, who was in Malawi on the Queen’s behalf.
I’m not particularly bothered by William taking a quick hop to Verbier with some friends. I don’t think it’s a big deal that he did so without his wife. And, frankly, I don’t love that photos of one of the women in her bikini are now being splashed across the tabloids. She’s certainly not done anything wrong. But yeah, this was an unfortunate visual – if the “spares” can attend, then surely the future king should? And, I don’t know, let’s say it was a very, very important ski trip for reasons unbeknownst to the world (which, hey, it might be), then why didn’t Kate at least represent their sector of the family?
To add further salt to the PR wound, Andrew was in Verbier this past weekend, too. He was at today’s service.
Stuff like this is frankly tedious less because of the action itself and more because it’s so obviously going to play out exactly the way it is. Of course the headlines are indignant. Of course William is once again being called “work shy.” This is exactly the narrative KP ostensibly had been trying to move away from going into the new year. This story will now likely be a throwaway line (at least) in all the coverage of the couple’s trip to Paris later this week.
I’m not interested in bemoaning any member of the BRF taking time off, but by the same token, this is an important event in the UK, one that the Queen herself takes seriously. Even if she’s fine with William missing it, I also understand the offense from some corners that this was a serious misstep on the Cambridges’ part – if for no other reason then it’s not the first of its kind to have occurred. Fool me once, etc., etc.
Now, let’s try not to make it worse by saying something about needing to spend time with the children.
*As a rule I don’t mention friends of the Royal Family, hence why the couple whose wedding Harry and Meghan Markle attended the other weekend were left out of all references here. They’re private individuals and so on and so forth.