Royal Roundup: Holidays & Popularity

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We just did a roundup on Monday, but in the interest of covering off on the week with a few stray stories (none of which really warrant their own post), I thought I’d do another before the weekend. We left off with the Prince of Wales and Duke of York both visiting the Queen at Balmoral last weekend, but since then the Queen’s second son  departed Scotland for a holiday in Malaga with his ex-wife, Sarah, Duchess of York.

Tom Sykes from The Daily Beast wrote:

On touchdown they were whisked by luxury cars to a secluded mansion in the hills. There was no attempt to keep the unusually timed vacation secret. A royal insider told The Sun: “The Duchess insisted she go on holiday with the Duke to look after him and show the world she stands by him.”

To seasoned royal hacks, the use of the words “Duchess” and “Duke” in the statement is a clear sign that the “source” is an authorized but off-the-record briefing to the media.

Going on holiday is by any measure an unusual response to the predicament in which Andrew finds himself, but aligning himself with Sarah, projecting the impression of a dutiful and very modern family man who makes it work with his ex, is par for the course.

Time and again, when the chips are down, failing royal men have sought to rehabilitate themselves by using the women in their life—mothers, girlfriends, ex-wives, children—to implicitly vouch for their character.

For a catch up on on the “predicament” I will point you towards this post from July.

I also want to highlight a few snippets from Katie Nicholl’s write up of the issue in Vanity Fair. She noted that newspapers were “discreetly” removed from Balmoral’s breakfast room on the morning news broke of Jeffrey Epstein’s death. She also reported this:

But despite the denials and show of unity, the duke’s friendship with Epstein has ruffled feathers at the highest level. According to one source, Prince Charles is less than happy that the royal family has been dragged into such a tawdry story.

“Andrew welcomed Epstein at Windsor Castle, Sandringham, and Balmoral at different points during their friendship, which led to tensions between him and Charles,” according to the source. “Charles has disapproved of quite a lot of Andrew’s friends and acquaintances over the years, and Epstein is no exception. I was told he was very concerned about the friendship for a long time and saw it as a disaster waiting to happen. This story isn’t going away, and no one knows what will come out next.”

The Queen and Prince Philip, meanwhile, continue to accept Andrew’s denials that he participated in anything illegal. “Andrew has had not easy conversations with both his mother and father, but he has always insisted he has done nothing wrong and that the charges are fallacious. His parents believe him,” adds the source.

So, do with that what you will.

In other Spanish holidays, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex reportedly spent a week in Ibiza with their son, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor. They came under fire for flying there via private plane (apparently on loan from the same friend who offered up a plane for Meghan to fly to her baby shower this winter). However, given Harry’s recent controversial remarks re: having only two children for environmental purposes, they’re naturally being accused of hypocrisy. Obviously I have no problem with them flying private, but this is a good example of why comments like those made in the Vogue issue end up causing trouble.

Later this month, Harry, Meghan, and Archie will join the Queen at Balmoral, a visit whose timing will coincide with that of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children. It’s also been reported that while the Sussexes will stay in the main house with the Queen, William and Kate will be using Tam-na-Ghar, a cottage on the estate grounds. This is  being billed as necessary space between the brothers and their families, but I don’t actually think that’s it.

William and Kate have frequently used Tam-na-Ghar when visiting Balmoral. When they were both students at St. Andrews, William used to bring Kate there for weekend breaks, and they often stayed there in their newlywed days. So, I would argue it’s likely more that the Cambridges have fond memories of the cottage, and given that their visit will not only coincide with Harry, but the Earl and Countess of Wessex and the Princess Royal (and their families), it made logistical sense.

In other Princess Royal news, Princess Anne celebrated her 69th birthday on Thursday, prompting a slew of well wishes from the rest of the Royal Family.

Then there’s the latest opinion polling on the popularity of individual members of the Royal Family…which a part of me kind of hopes staff did leave in the breakfast room at Balmoral. There’s been some movement since this survey was put out last year. Most notably, Harry  slipped from first place to second, and Meghan’s popularity  dropped from 55% to 49%. Here’s the full list (which tracks who has a favorable impression of each royal):

  1. Queen Elizabeth – 72%
  2. Harry – 71%
  3. William – 69%
  4. Kate – 64%
  5. Prince Philip (the Duke of Edinburgh) – 54%
  6. Meghan – 49%
  7. Charles – 48%
  8. Anne – 46%
  9. Zara Phillips (a bizarre ask given that she’s not a working royal) – 42%
  10. Sophie (the Countess of Wessex) – 29%
  11. Camilla (the Duchess of Cornwall) – 29%
  12. Prince Edward (the Earl of Wessex) – 26%
  13. Eugenie – 25%
  14. Beatrice – 24%
  15. Andrew – 21%

A few things to note: It’s a good sign that the Queen, Harry, William, Kate, and Philip all came in with favorables that high, and with the exception of Camilla and Andrew, I think the lower marks on the bottom end of the list have more to do with a lack of exposure and knowledge on who these people are and what they actually do. Camilla, unfortunately, usually gets some continued backlash from those who remember the 1990s well, and I would argue that 48% for Charles is actually pretty decent. He deserves a higher grade in my book, but given myriad factors, I think that’s a solid rating all things considered.

I also wanted to post a tweet from a royal reporter that noted British bookies have slashed the odds on both Kate and Meghan having babies in 2020, but now I can’t find it. I think it’s entirely likely that we’ll get a pregnancy announcement from Meghan next year, but I’m less certain about Kate. I think it’s very possible she does want a fourth, but William was apparently leaning towards two, so three may well have been the compromise. Regardless, we may still get a second royal baby courtesy of Princess Eugenie sometime soon…and there’s been engagement rumors percolating around Princess Beatrice for a few months now. We’ll see…

Some time in the next two weeks we’ll see the Cambridges and Sussexes at Balmoral, which I always like to think of as the last hurrah of the summer slow period before engagements resume in September. Around the same time we’ll likely to get more information on William and Kate’s visit to Pakistan, as well as some engagement announcements. Last but not least, with Princess Charlotte due to begin school with Prince George this year, I have my fingers crossed for some first day pics.

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