A Household Divided

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I’ve stopped and started writing this post a few times over the past month, with a lovely combination of my schedule and actual news coming out of London wrinkling my focus. What started out as a closer look at the Oceania tour was to become a look at the Duchess of Sussex’s first six months within the BRF…which was then to cover projections that the Cambridges and Sussexes would divide their household in 2019.

And now: the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will leave Kensington Palace next year for Frogmore Cottage (not to be confused with Frogmore House) at Windsor.

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Unfortunately the news come amidst rumors that William and Harry are no longer getting along, which has prompted speculation that the real source of tension is a frosty relationship between Kate and Meghan.

There’s a lot to unpack here, and for those of you who have seen the news I think it bears repeating that the only thing that has been confirmed by the palace is that Harry and Meghan are moving to Frogmore. A move in and of itself isn’t shocking – they currently live in a two-bedroom “cottage” that was hardly going to be a permanent residence for a growing family (and they have a baby on the way).

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The question remains, of course, why? Well, we don’t know why, but I also think it’s worth underscoring that William and Harry were never going to keep one household for the rest of their lives…which reminds me that I should probably define household in this context. Here, we don’t mean actual residential household (or “home”), but rather office and staff. The “household” dividing is different than the physical move to Frogmore. In other words, the various staff for William, Kate, Harry and Meghan would no longer operate under one umbrella – Kensington Palace.

As it stands right now, that Harry and Meghan will live elsewhere is confirmed. The breaking up of the household is not.

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That a split will come someday is obvious – one day William will be king and Harry won’t. I think most of us assumed this division would come when William became Prince of Wales and Harry continued on in his global role with the Commonwealth as presently outlined. Reportedly it may come sooner, and perhaps that’s to be expected given that Harry is no longer a single man. It made economic and logistical sense when it was just him to keep him merged with William (and then Kate), but with the addition of Meghan and their unfolding roles and interests it no longer does.

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The quick skip between wedding and now baby offers a natural point for the two to spin off as they always were. In that sense, this has nothing to do with Meghan herself, so much as Harry marrying.

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As for the rumors of tension between brothers and between sisters-in-law, I would personally love to disregard them. If I attempt to be objective, however, then I have to admit that when a rumor like this has been percolating for as long as this one has been there tends to be at least a grain of truth to it. And unfortunately, part of my inclination not to completely discredit the negativity is the fact that within 24 hours a more positive spin on the situation was pushed out to media. It’s a just a tad too choreographed.

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The tenor of the speculation over this past weekend has included notes such as that William and Harry have rarely been seen together in the last year, and that there has been notable awkwardness between Kate and Meghan during public engagements. There have been unnamed sources calling Meghan demanding behind the scenes, and Kate jealous of the positive press attention Meghan’s receiving. Then there’s William’s discomfort with Harry and Meghan’s attitude towards their work, and Harry’s reported insistence on doing things his way…or rather Meghan’s.

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The thing is, these stories are so old and recycled as to be mundane. You could swap William and Harry for Charles and Andrew, or Kate and Meghan for Diana and Sarah and there would be some thematic overlap. It’s been seven years of William, Kate and Harry existing as a professional trio, and so this is all new. It’s all a little exciting. Growing pains seem more dramatic than they are.

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With the exception of the past four weeks when I’ve been admittedly out of the mix, I’ve covered every single engagement these kids have undertaken together – and most apart, for that matter – since January 2017 and I haven’t noticed tension. Hey, maybe it’s there and I’ve missed it. But for every still image I’ve seen splashed around of strained smiles, I give you the photos of the two women at Wimbledon.

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I would also note that the most recent engagements – and thus the appearances freshest in minds – are from Remembrance services where everyone is solemn and trying to be as respectful as possible. Not exactly fodder for great family photos.

Kate and Meghan are very different people, sure. But I would argue that they’re same age, they’re about to both have young children and they both married into the same family, so…that’s got to count for something, no? I would also note that Harry and Meghan called out Kate by name in their engagement interview as being extremely supportive and welcoming, so if there’s actual trouble brewing, I doubt it’s that personal.

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As for William and Harry not being seen with one another, Harry’s been engaged or married for a year…to the day, actually. Thus, yes, his appearances have been with Meghan or solo, and less as a +1 with William and Kate. That’s to be expected. And when I think of the brothers together in the past year I can’t help but remember the below image from an engagement just before Harry’s wedding:

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Where I do think there may be some smoke behind this fire is on the professional front. I think Harry and Meghan have a clearly defined global role and relationship with the press that doesn’t necessarily fit perfectly with William and Kate’s approach. I also think that more and more Harry and Meghan are going to be focused on a set of core issues, while William will be focused on preparing for a trajectory that only he can undertake, and Kate will be supporting him. I have a feeling that what we saw during the Oceania tour – Harry and Meghan abroad, with William and Kate holding down the British side – may well continue in some ways.

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How this separation has played out behind closed doors is anyone’s guess, but I’m just not inclined to believe it’s that dramatic or personal. Or, at least, I don’t think there’s any evidence that it is.

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With that, I’m going to leave it there. Next month will see plenty of end of year posts and there will be one focused on Meghan, so for those who have been waiting for a more in-depth look at her first six months, you have my apologies and a request for just a few more weeks of patience. In the meantime, we have new engagements announced and my hope is to be timely(!)

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