Today was the big day: 50,000 runners participated in the London marathon and were cheered on by none other than the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. The three started the event by offering some last minute words of encouragement and sounding “go” by pressing a large, red buzzer.
They then set up camp at a cheering point in Greenwich where they were visible to runners as they went by and proved something of a distraction. At various points people stopped to give them hugs, wave, shake their hands and pose for selfies, sometimes prompting a “keep going” gesture from William and Harry so that they wouldn’t lose too much time. I mean, yes running times are important, but it’s not hard to see why people were doing double-takes…particularly when the three Royals were trading a large, Heads Together-themed foam finger back and forth. You just don’t see that everyday.
Video captured by reporter Rebecca English:
At the end, Kate handed out medals to the fastest runners:
Today’s fashion was pretty straight forward. All three were wearing black Heads Together jackets, while Kate appears to have paired hers with dark jeans, a Breton top and her white Superga trainers.
Her blowout was on point, though.
Now, let’s take a moment to consider the last few days as a whole, because I thought they exemplified modern monarchy at its best. Today we got to see William, Kate and Harry hugging fans, cheering people on and directly engaging on behalf of one of their patronages. Friday saw William and Kate giving a light-hearted interview to BBC 1 that may have offered more personal anecdotes and insights into their dynamic and day-to-day life than we’ve received in six years of marriage. Other interviews William and Harry gave were some of the most candid any member of the British Royal Family have ever given. And this is all on top of the more straight forward engagements they conducted and the posting of their very own #okaytosay video.
Consider if there was a big event later this week which other members of the RF attended and we learned some combination of the three had gone on vacation. To be honest, I don’t think it would be as big of a deal as last month’s Verbier trip was. Of all of them, it’s possible William would still get a raised eyebrow as future king, but if this, or something approaching this, was the baseline, there would be massive stores of goodwill on which they could rely. That affection is based on something the Queen has been perfectly candid about over the course of her reign – she has to be seen to be believed.
That has been part of the rub with William and Kate, which is that certain sects of the public feel they don’t see them. And when they do, they don’t hear them. I’ve discussed this dynamic many times before – and I’ve defended the practicality of that dynamic in most respects – but the simple fact remains, what we’ve seen this past week is what a lot of the Cambridges’ detractors have wanted.
Is this level of activity and visibility doable week in and week out? No. We’d get sick of them, the media would turn on them and, quite frankly, they’re not senior enough to completely box out the two older generations when it comes to column-inches (or the digital equivalent). But going forward, it needs to look closer to this and for good reason: when these three speak, they help themselves. They’re candid, approachable and they seem like reasonable, down-to-earth, basically kind and good people.
The William that speaks during interviews is hard to reconcile with the one sometimes presented by columnists who speak of a stubborn, privacy-obsessed man who has surrounded himself with sycophants. The William that speaks is his own best PR.
There’s been talk that the three have been so pleased and taken aback by the positive reactions they’ve gotten from this most recent push that they’re looking to extend the program. I hope that they do. And I hope that this is a good indication of what we’re going to see even more of once the Cambridges move back to London full-time.
As of right now, there’s nothing on the books for William and Kate until May. That’s not wholly unusual given that many engagements aren’t announced until about a week out, but I also think it’s possible that they’ll decamp to Anmer Hall at some point this coming week given that their six-year wedding anniversary is this coming Saturday. Then again, the last time I predicted that Kate was photographed in London doing wedding prep with her sister, Pippa, so your guess is as good as mine!