Royal Roundup: Saudi Royal Visits & Russian Diplomatic Rows

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Much like we saw with the angst over the potential state visit of President Trump to the UK last year, the British Royal Family has been pulled into the political news cycle this week courtesy of Saudi Arabia and Russia. But before we get into that, let’s cover off on some happier, more straight forward news, which is that Meghan Markle was officially baptized into the Church of England on Tuesday night, taking her one step closer to her May wedding to Prince Harry.

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The 45-minute private ceremony took place in the Chapel Royal within St. James’s Palace and was attended by Harry, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. Neither the Queen nor the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, however, were present. The baptism was performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and was immediately followed by Meghan’s confirmation, meaning she can now receive communion.

Per the Mail:

“The ceremony was a closely-guarded secret with only a handful of royal aides involved. Miss Markle, 36, had asked the 62-year-old Archbishop, Justin Welby, to lead the service after forming a close bond with him in recent weeks as he instructed her on the rites and sacraments of the Church.”

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It is believed that Meghan had two sponsors, one of whom was a close friend.

Following the ceremony, Charles and Camilla hosted a small dinner party at Clarence House. I’m personally glad to hear that the two were able to be there and took on a parental role for Meghan – with her own so far away, it seems fitting that they step in as she’s acclimating to her now role and preparing to join their family.

The event mirrored Kate’s own confirmation during her engagement to William. While she was baptized in the Anglican faith as an infant, she had never been confirmed and thus went through the process privately before her 2011 wedding.

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Moving on to Russia – Kensington Palace confirmed that William, who is president of the Football Association (FA), will not attend the World Cup in Russia this summer. Per ITV:

“It follows a warning to Russia from the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, that the UK would withdraw key personnel from the tournament after the suspected poisoning of the former Russian spy in Salisbury. However, royal aides have been quick to point out that the Prince “has never had plans to attend” the event in the hope that it won’t be seen as a premature snub from the Royal Family.”

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Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in the UK earlier this week following a visit to Cairo. It’s sparked a fair bit of controversy, not least of which is due to the fact that the Prince met three senior members of the Royal Family in addition Prime Minister Theresa May. Between the situation in Yemen to consistent discomfort with how women are treated in the country, the perceived pomp rubbed many the wrong way.

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Protests have been organized throughout London, while a number of officials have expressed outrage. Defenders of the Prince and the visit, on the other hand, argue maintaining a relationship is crucial to having any sort of influence in the future.

While May’s meeting with the Prince would likely have drawn its own commentary, it tends to take on a more emotional tone when the Queen enters the scene. She hosted the Prince for a luncheon at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday and was photographed shaking his hand before sitting down to a private chat.

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The real issue for some is the favor and welcome that such a meeting signifies, but at the end of the day, the Queen meets with who her government asks. In other words, this was just another day at the office for Her Majesty.

The luncheon was followed by a private dinner at Clarence House yesterday hosted by Charles and William.Worth mentioning is that Camilla and Kate were nowhere near this, which makes sense for two reasons: 1) they wouldn’t necessarily be regardless since Charles and William are the visiting Prince’s peers and he showed up without a spouse for them to entertain and 2) it likely saved everyone even more a PR headache.

Call it my own professional inclinations, but I have found the rather blunt ads for the Prince to be slightly cringe-worthy (pictured below):

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Before we go, the Court Circular noted that the Queen hosted a dinner yesterday evening for The Aga Khan at Windsor Castle to celebrate his Diamond Jubilee. Alongside her was Charles, Camilla, the Princess Royal and her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, and the Duke of York.

And finally, for a little levity:

 

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