Well, enough minor stories have built up that I’ve decided it’s time for a brief royal roundup. The first item on the agenda is that the Duchess of Cambridge has in fact carried out her first engagement this autumn – albeit, behind the scenes. Yesterday, she and the Duke met with Miguel Head as he formally stepped down from his position as William’s private secretary.
To put that into context, let’s jump back quickly to last summer when it was announced that the Queen’s private secretary, Sir Christopher Geidt, was stepping down after a decade of service. It was considered quite the “shakeup” and fingers were pointed at the Prince of Wales, who is rumored to dislike Geidt and to have more of a say in palace operations as his mother hands over more responsibility to him.
At the time, both Head and the Duke of Sussex’s private secretary, Edward Lane Fox, were considering resigning as well. I never followed up on this issue, but in fact, they did. In July, Simon Case joined Kensington Palace to work with William, while Kate had Catherine Quinn step in for Rebecca Priestley last year.
No one has been appointed to take over for Harry, though Geidt’s second-in-command, Samantha Cohen, has been serving as interim support for both him and Meghan. More on from Harper’s Bazaar here. At this point, the couple are sharing a private secretary, though as Meghan’s role is better defined, she will eventually hire her own. Kate, for example, didn’t engage Priestley as her private secretary until 2013, some two years after her wedding.
When all of this began percolating in 2017, the rumor was that it was all part of a grand plan to consolidate households when Charles ascends the throne. That idea has been circulating for years, so who knows? Certainly, it’s not happening in the near-term.
Moving on to William – while all signs point to Kate’s maternity leave extending well into October, if not November, the Duke has been a busy bee. Today he announced that he’ll be making a working trip to Namibia, Tanzania and Kenya as part of his work with the Royal African Society and focus on conservation. The trip won’t be a tour, but we’ll likely get at least some news and updates on his activity abroad – if and when we do, I’ll cover that here.
Frankly, I’m disappointed that it’s not a tour and that Kate is unlikely to accompany him. I would love to see either of the younger couples make a formal visit to the African countries we know William and Harry are so fond of.
Finally, Princess Eugenie’s wedding is less than a month away – hard to believe! I’ve given updates here and there on news as it’s been reported, but I’ve mostly refrained from weighing in on some of the criticism is’s been receiving for a bit over the top. To put that into context, Eugenie and her fiance, Jack Brooksbank, are inviting over 200 more people than Harry and Meghan did, while the festivities themselves will spread over two days and take up more space within Windsor Castle. It will cost less, but according to the Palace, which we can assume is on the conservative side, it will cost £2 million.
I previously gave them the benefit of the doubt that they were taking a similar approach to the Earl and Countess of Wessex, but those were different times and it’s worth saying that Edward is the Queen’s son and he is now a working royal. Eugenie holds no comparable position. In short, I think this is over the top, a bit tone deaf and wildly overestimates public interest in these nuptials.
If Eugenie wanted a big, lavish wedding, great, but it should have been done privately. If she wanted to marry at Windsor, then a more modest affair would have been more appropriate.
The silver lining, I suppose, is that we’ll at least get to see Kate if she hasn’t returned to work by then.