Royal Roundup: Balmoral Visits & Press Statements

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At this point, August is really turning into a pick your poison proposition for the Royal Family…and us. Would you rather talk about private planes or the Duke of York’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein? (If your answer is neither, well, my apologies). Let’s start with the positive.

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On Sunday – as expected – the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were photographed riding to church with the Queen during their annual visit to Balmoral. Historically Balmoral pics show a more dressed-down duchess as our glimpses of them attending church are technically private, but starting last year – and again on Sunday – Kate is kicking things up a notch. Perhaps it’s a nod to her now sitting alongside the Queen, or to her and William’s increasing seniority in the family, or, more likely, a little of both.

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Either way, Kate debuted a navy herringbone coat by a new label, Guinea London. I have a feeling we’ll see it again this autumn once engagements pick back up.

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Other royals photographed on Sunday included the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, the Princess Royal and Timothy Laurence, and the Earl and Countess of Wessex with their daughter, Lady Louise.

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Earlier photos of the RF, including William and Kate, on the Balmoral estate were published on Friday. You can view those here.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex haven’t yet joined the party, but are expected to some time this week. We’ll see if we catch a glimpse of them arriving or attending church next Sunday, but it’s unlikely that we’ll see the Cambridges and Sussexes together as the Cambridge children will be gearing up to return to school.

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The private jet saga continues to unfold, unfortunately for everyone concerned. It was reported at the end of last week that the airline on which the Cambridges flew learned that the family would be flying with them late on Wednesday evening and thus flew an empty aircraft to Norfolk to pick them up. Their reason for doing so? Ensuring that a plane with their logo was included in expected pictures.

A faction of Sussex fans online have thus pointed out doing so undercuts the environmental benefits of flying commercial. Unfortunately, many are also misreading the news articles and believe that the Cambridges flew alone on this empty aircraft from Norfolk to Aberdeenshire. Part of fans’ militancy stems from their belief that this was a PR stunt from the Cambridges to undermine Harry and Meghan.

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I don’t believe that to be true, though the timing was unfortunate. As we discussed last week (here and here), the charges of hypocrisy on this particular issue aren’t unfair. This could also have been a much smaller issue had A-list celebrities not waded into the mix and decided to link this to accusations of bias and racism against the British media. I wholeheartedly agree with a column from Tom Sykes over at The Daily Beast, which said:

“Meghan and Harry have faced a mountain of unfair criticism, but so has every other member of the royal family at some stage or other; Kate Middleton did too. As William and Harry have both commented in the past, it goes with the territory.

“Harry and Meghan, and their friends speaking on their behalf, are playing a curious, possibly self-sabotaging game. They are now squarely set in an openly antagonistic relationship with the media, while seeking to parlay their image and public support through their own social media channels, full of pretty pictures and positivity.

“Their complaints about the press will likely soon begin again—and fair enough if they think this is productive (it isn’t). But whatever they’re doing, and whatever fighting stance they’ve elected to adopt, Meghan and Harry should give up their newfound habit of handing out private jet-shaped sticks to the media with which to beat them.”

As other royals have learned the hard way, it’s worth keeping your powder dry so that when there’s a real fight to wage, you have some leg left to stand on. It’s an issue I’m sure we’ll return to in the coming weeks and months, so I’m going to leave it there for now.

…And then there’s Prince Andrew. On Saturday, Buckingham Palace released a lengthy statement responding to news coverage of his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein. It was signed, “Andrew,” in the form of a personal appeal.

The thing is, we know by now that Andrew spent more than “limited time” with Epstein, and in fact the two were each other’s frequent guests, including at royal residences like Balmoral. Andrew also turned to Epstein for a personal loan of money for his ex-wife, and whether that’s ever been repaid remains unknown. Then there’s the photographs showing Andrew was at least aware Epstein kept a coterie of adolescent girls around him, which frankly should have begged questions from one middle-aged man to another.

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So, we’re left with whether Andrew is lying – to us, to himself, and to his parents – or is in fact incredibly stupid. Neither absolves him of guilt.

The thing about “mistakes” and “errors in judgment” is that just because you identify them as such doesn’t negate consequences. I doubt this is the last chapter in this book, but in the meantime BP staff has confirmed that Andrew will cooperate with the FBI investigation if he’s asked to. So, there’s that.

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Last but not least, Good Morning America co-anchor Lara Spencer was forced to apologize after mocking Prince George’s ballet classes on-air. I don’t have much to say about this save that I agree Spencer’s comments were inappropriate (and rather bizarre). You can read more about the issue if you missed it here and here.

With that, we’re rounded up 🙂 I have another Richard III post scheduled for later this week, and I will pop back in if we hear engagement announcements from Kensington Palace.

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