First of all, the above photo is EPIC considering it’s nearly three years old.
Anyway, as I noted in the first of what has been a million posts I’ve written today, I have been keeping up with royal news despite my (work-induced) sabbatical. As such, I watched the reporting of the Duke of Cambridge’s rumored affair play out in real time, of which I’m glad because the timing of how this unfolded is key.
The background is thus: William has been “accused” (more on that in a second) of having had an affair while Kate was pregnant with their third child (July 2017 – April 2018). The other woman in question is Rose Hanbury, Marchioness of Cholmondeley, who lives with her husband and three children at Houghton Hall in Norfolk, close to the Cambridge’s own Anmer Hall.
Rose’s husband is David Rocksavage, Marquess of Cholmondeley, and the couples are believed to have at one point been good friends, with the two families having similarly-aged children and living so nearby.
In 2016, the Cholmondeleys hosted a charity event for EACH, one of Kate’s patronages, and welcomed the Cambridges to Houghton Hall for a black tie fundraiser. It was a glittering event at a stunning venue, and the Cholmondeleys caught royal watchers’ eyes thanks to Rose (a former model) and the clear friendliness between the couples. In fact, they are both a part of a small group of families based in Norfolk who socialize frequently.
After that, not much was heard of them, but it was an interesting sneak peek into the bucolic, if glamorous, life that the Cambridges live when they slip out of London.
Cut to 2019 and a news article pops up in a British tabloid, the Sun, that Kate and Rose have had a falling out and Kate ordered William to “phase her out” of their social circle. It was then picked up by the Daily Mail. This story caught my eye at the time mainly because it was so weird. It doesn’t sound like Kate, who seems to be pretty easy-going and, well, kind. The story also didn’t include any hint of why they had a falling out, so it was almost bizarre in its brevity.
Shortly thereafter a staff writer for The Times of London tweeted that the issue at the heart of the matter was that William and Rose had had an affair, and that this was an open secret within their social circles. The exact wording was: “Yes, it is an affair. I haven’t read the piece but I know about the affair. Everyone knows about the affair, darling.”
The tweets have subsequently been deleted.
After a brief lull, the American tabloid In Touch published the story, at which point the floodgates opened and, well, here we are. The In Touch article adds some color from a “source” such as that Kate confronted William, he denied it, but she still ordered a cessation of socializing with Rose and their husband. Regardless of whether the affair is true or not, I definitely don’t believe that source is real, so let’s move on.
Once the story spread, William engaged his lawyers. At least one British publication has been contacted by law firm Harbottle and Lewis with a letter that reads, “In addition to being false and highly damaging, the publication of false speculation in respect of our clients’ private life also constitutes a breach of his privacy pursuant to Article 8 of the European Convention to Human Rights.”
The timing and phrasing of the first British stories are interesting to me because I do believe an affair is exactly at which they were hinting. But accusing William of having an affair outright, particularly without any proof or strong enough sources, is a bridge too far for most publications who rely on access to the Palace for coverage. The American media isn’t tethered in the same way, but once they reported it the story became fairer game.
What that tells us is that the rumor of the affair is legitimate. Not the affair itself, but the fact that the story was circulating.
William deploying his lawyers is significant, but not necessarily revealing. This isn’t the first time William has used similar methods when he has felt the media was invading the privacy of Kate or his children. The most famous incident is obviously the 2012 case when the couple sued over the topless photos of Kate taken during a trip to France. Similar warnings were put out when Kate was being harassed by paparazzi while they were dating.
All it really tells us is that William has heard the story, takes it seriously, and isn’t pleased. This is the first time there’s been even a whiff of infidelity surrounding this couple since their marriage, and so the reaction may well stem from that and less the story’s validity.
BUT, what I will say is this: I do think the alleged timing of this affair is interesting in light of the falling out between William and Harry.
I will also say this: If William did cheat on Kate, this is exactly how it would come out.
And finally this: Shortly after the story broke in full Kate and William took their children to the Burnham Market Horse Trials with the Tindalls. The result was 48 hours of wall-to-wall coverage of George and Charlotte playing with their cousin, Mia, and the affair story has mostly been drowned out thanks to subsequent royal engagements and the pending Sussex birth.
The couple taking their children to events like this, knowing they will be photographed, isn’t an aberration. But the last time Kate did this was during her maternity leave, when I’m fairly confident she did so to ensure that there wasn’t too much of a backlash to her taking a longer-than-usual break after Louis’s birth. Everyone goes nuts for pictures of George and Charlotte because William and Kate usually keep them hidden (for lack of a better word), so if they were looking to bury a story or re-direct attention, this would be the way to do it.
And frankly, that was my first thought when I saw the photos and one factor that makes me disinclined to completely rule out the possibility this story is true.
There’s absolutely no way to know for certain based on the information at hand, and I actually don’t have a strong POV on this one way or another. While the above elements gave me pause, without them absolutely nothing seems amiss at Kensington Palace. William and Kate seem as in love and happy as ever, and while this all would have gone down while Kate was out of view, they certainly appeared solid when she re-emerged in the fall.
So, I don’t know, I hope not, and innocence until proven guilt, etc.
7 thoughts on “A Duke, a Duchess & a Marchioness”
I really enjoy reading your blog! I don’t comment (well, tonight I am, haha) but I like that you report fairly and accurately on the stories of the current royals. (And I enjoy your history posts too!) Every other story about the rumored affair is written like it’s a fact that’s been proved/acknowledged. “He must be guilty if he got his lawyers involved,” is also everywhere–from gossip columnists stating it, to people commenting on these stories. I really don’t understand why gossip is taken as fact when in reality we all know very little about what’s happening behind the doors and windows of the royal households. What we see in public, and what the household staff also sees, is not the entire picture. And good staffers (who want to remain employed) do not gossip about the person paying their salary. Anyone in a public position would be angry at slander to their character, and the people involved in the stories. And all these people have kids too, which would really be hurtful for them to hear/ready about now or later. Yet somehow, William taking offense to the (as far as we know) untrue rumors is an indication he’s guilty? I appreciate that you pinpointed the exact source of this and didn’t join the crowd in burning him at the stake!
Thank you very much!
I am so glad you are back!! And with such fervor. I have missed your posts so much especially with the obvious tension with the brothers. I also was glad to read this post because all I could get on this story angry or hateful info… don’t get me started about the craziness on Twitter. When I first heard of the story, I don’t know if I was that surprised, because I have noticed he is more standoffish with Kate and others than he used to be in the past. Kate is always all smiles, and it takes a bit for him to crack a fleeting one. He does seem to have the weight of the world in his shoulders.
Thank you! And that’s an interesting point about William – you’re right, he has been a bit awkward in public of late. I would imagine the news cycle for the last few months hasn’t been his favorite(!)
Just found your blog and am loving it. Thanks so much for the time you take to write such balanced opinions. My take on William’s demeanor is that he is under pressure with all that’s going on behind closed doors regarding the Sussex’s and it’s potential fallout for the brf as a whole. Not to mention feeling loss, annoyance and concern for his brother. Kate can’t act – if rumors were true we would have seen it written all over her. IMO
Also – is it possible that the times staffer who tweeted about an affair wasn’t actually referring to the Cambridge’s?
Thank you for reading, 1whitelamb! Appreciate it. My read of the original tweet was that it was definitely in reference to the vague original reports of the Cambridge/Norfolk story, but I can’t recall now (and it’s been deleted) whether it was directly responding to someone on the subject.