Ok, let’s pick back up for Part II of our coronation coverage…which are essentially the topics I wanted to dive into, but also deserved a slightly fresher brain than I was offering on Sunday evening.
One element worth mentioning is that when the Royal Family was arriving at Westminster Abbey on Saturday, it looked as though The Prince and Princess of Wales arrived late. In fact, they arrived on time; King Charles and co. actually showed up early. This happens, though for an event as carefully orchestrated as the coronation was, it does create a slight moment of frenzy.
The seating in the Abbey and the members of the family highlighted on the Buckingham Palace balcony afterwards showcased working royals. This, of course, provides the Palace with some rationale for why The Dukes of York and Sussex aren’t included. The result was that Harry was seated in the third row during the service, behind The Princess Royal (and her hat) and beside Jack Brooksbank, Princess Eugenie’s husband.
But let’s call a spade a spade – had relations between the Sussexes and the Royal Family not frayed to the point that they have, it’s all but certain that Harry and Meghan would have been seated junior only to the Waleses.
It’s a no-win situation for the Royal Family – by putting Harry in the third row, his fans will call them petty. If they placed him front and center, then it would upset traditional royal fans and other members of the family, while running the risk of driving more media attention to the rift. When you run a cost-benefit analysis, there’s not much to gain by appeasing the die-hard Sussex fans – the vast majority of them don’t understand the landscape or already view it negatively.
Beatrice & Eugenie
I had someone DM me on Instagram over the weekend indignant that I called out it was interesting that Princess Eugenie included multiple pictures of Harry in her social media post about the coronation. And while I’m sure I’m very grateful for the reminder Harry and Eugenie are cousins, the reason why I flagged it is that Beatrice and Eugenie were recently photographed with Piers Morgan.
And what makes *that* interesting? Well, the York family has been all over the map when it comes to the Sussexes recently. Eugenie is famously close to Harry, even after the Sussexes’ move to California, and publicly visited them last year, while she and her family lived in Frogmore Cottage for a period of time. Her mother, Sarah, Duchess of York (Fergie), has been repeatedly referenced by the Sussexes as being present when Meghan first met Queen Elizabeth and even helping Meghan learn how to curtsy. Fergie was also invited to their 2018 wedding. Beatrice, as far as I can recall, has publicly stayed out of it.
What made that a complex dynamic was that Harry and Meghan have gone out of their way to distance themselves from Andrew – the most recent example being that the allegations of sexual misconduct against him were referenced in Spare. Beatrice and Eugenie, however, still appear close to their father and there were rumors last year they were lobbying King Charles to find Andrew a public role again.
Then came the Frogmore Cottage eviction, which was wrapped up in a media narrative that Andrew would be asked to give up Royal Lodge for the Sussexes’ former home. This was followed by Fergie giving an interview where she claimed she barely knew Meghan. And then came the real twist, when Beatrice and Eugenie were photographed having lunch with Piers Morgan, a man who was fired from his television gig in 2021 after questioning Meghan’s suicide attempt in 2019 (as relayed to Oprah during their interview) and who has spent the last six years attacking Meghan’s character and credibility.
Remember, too, that Harry accused Queen Camilla in Spare for exactly what Beatrice and Eugenie were doing – cozying up to certain members of the press at the expense of other family members. Rumors have subsequently abounded that the two women are in the market for an interviewer. Piers Morgan, given his relationship with Meghan, would be a very strange choice.
As such, the optics prior to the coronation were that it was entirely possible relations had soured between the York princesses and the Montecito court. Eugenie’s inclusion of Harry in her carousel, and their repartee during the ceremony, indicates that’s not the case. Their participation at various events during the coronation indicates a still-solid relationship with their uncle, the King. Which begs the question – why lunch with Piers Morgan? Or has that just been brushed under the rug as the cost of doing business?
The fact that Katy Perry performed at the coronation concert is another *interesting* tidbit. For a while, Katy and her husband, Orlando Bloom, were believed to be friends of the Sussexes in California. The rumor, which I can’t substantiate so please take it all with a large grain of salt, is that the relationship between the couples has subsequently fallen apart. First, Orlando was one of the voices for the short-lived HBO cartoon based on Gary Janetti’s Instagram memes about Prince George. The series was meant to be a satirical comedy that criticized every member of the Royal Family, including Harry and Meghan, but it was definitely harsh and not very well-received.
Second, and this, again, is very much just a rumor, Katy, mother of one, was very offended when Meghan did her Ellen interview after Lilibet’s birth and said that one child was a “hobby,” two children was “parenting.”
As I said, I have no additional insight here, but that rumor has been rampant for over a year so Katy’s performance raised some eyebrows.
As you may recall, a few years back William was accused of having an affair with Rose, Marchioness of Cholmondeley while Catherine was pregnant with Prince Louis. The rumor first ran as society gossip that got traction on social media and in foreign press, while Kensington Palace responded with a stern letter from a lawyer. The British press has remained relatively quiet on the topic – not out of deference, but because no one has ever been able to prove it one way or another.
The Marchioness is married to David, Marquess of Cholmondeley, who served as Lord Great Chamberlain to Queen Elizabeth from 1990 to 2022. Earlier this year, he was given an appointment in King Charles’s court as a permanent lord-in-waiting. And one of his sons, Oliver, was given the position of page boy at the coronation on Saturday alongside Prince George.
So, what to make of this? When this rumor first began swirling, I wrote a post on it that stated we had no real reason to believe any of this was true; *however*, if it was, this is exactly how it would go down. Since then, the Cholmondeleys didn’t see a marked change in their court position – in fact, both couples have been photographed at the same events (like state dinners). That doesn’t really tell us much because of the David’s position. What indicates it may all have just been a rumor is that Catherine and Rose were photographed together in Norfolk on the Princess’s birthday during the pandemic, strongly pointing to the continuation of some sort of personal relationship. Then again…what a smart way to put the rumor to bed.
The reason this is important now is that Oliver’s inclusion on Saturday re-raised this rumor. And as I’ve pointed out a few times here, the online toxicity about which the Sussexes complain also targets William and Catherine. The so-called “Sussex Squad” online has had a field day over the last few years leveraging this rumor as proof that the Waleses’ marriage is a sham. The latest theory is that William and Catherine were late on Saturday because they were fighting about Rose’s attendance, and the fact that Rose wore a black and white dress 24 hours after Catherine did.
It’s all very stupid, but what’s less stupid is King Charles’s decision to include Cholmondeley son because he absolutely had to have to known this would all get re-raised. Is it a refusal to engage in idle gossip on behalf of a loyal family? I mean, I hope. In the meantime, it’s worth paying attention to.
Buckingham Palace & Kensington Palace
For the last three years, King Charles and William have seemed like a united front. By all reports, they were aligned in the necessity of Andrew being “fired” and were in regular communication over the Sussex fireworks. This has been a marked change from earlier narratives which told us the King and Harry were actually much closer, and that the King and William occasionally butted heads.
In the royal ecosystem, this has meant that for the last few years you saw the segments of the public who pay attention to such things broken into two camps: Sussex fans and royal fans. Personally, I don’t love the use of “fans” – that indicates a blind loyalty to your team, which I find wildly unhelpful when it comes to some semblance of objective analysis. And despite the insistence of certain rabid Sussex fans, there is *plenty* of criticism on this site of William, Catherine, Andrew, and the Palace itself.
But the monolith of the pro-royal crew has started to shift recently. Lately, there’s been a divide where a distinct segment is beginning to criticize William in the King’s defense, a theme which I saw quite a bit over the course of this past weekend. I’m not sure what to make of this. While I’d love to say it’s just a particularly insane segment of the fandom (and whatever it is, it *is* insane), it would also be naïve to say that the Palace doesn’t pay some attention to the nature of online conversation. In other words, we can’t discount the possibility that there is actual strife between BP and KP that is manifesting itself on social media.
So, there’s that, and then there’s the visual depiction of relations between the various family members on display over the weekend. The King and William shared a sweet moment when the latter swore homage on Saturday, William delivered an excellent speech during the concert congratulating his father, and everyone was all smiles during the concert itself.
I hope the state of online discourse has nothing to do with on-the-ground reality, but it’s another thing to pay attention to when ingesting royal news in actual publications or via social media. I have more to say on this topic, but I’m going to put a pin in it for the purposes of today.
As you may have seen, 52 protestors demonstrating against the monarchy at the coronation were arrested. Per the BBC:
“Protest is lawful and it can be disruptive,” Commander Karen Findlay, leading the day’s operation, said – pointing to numerous protests that had been policed without any arrests.
Officers, she said, have a duty to intervene “when protest becomes criminal and may cause serious disruption”.
“This depends on the context. The Coronation is a once in a generation event and that is a key consideration in our assessment.”
The Palace hasn’t opined on this matter, nor did they order the arrests. So, there’s that key piece of information. Nevertheless, this isn’t a good look for the Palace, even if they’re essentially collateral damage. Members of the public have every right to protest the monarchy and there’s a very fair and valid argument to make that what the coronation stands for is offensive in this day and age.
For our purposes, it’s just very unfortunate optics.
The coronation itself was a success. Even The Guardian, hardly a die-hard royalist newspaper, gave it 4/5 stars – no, literally. International coverage was equally as positive, with one French publication noting that the Royal Family was a prime example of the UK’s continued soft power.
But truth be told, I’m uneasy about the Windsors right now. There’s a lot of transition going on with the launch of a new reign and the overarching narrative around the Royal Family is pretty toxic these days. I said in Part I of my coronation coverage that the renewed focus on the monarch over the succession was a change, but not an unhealthy one. I stand by that, but – and this is an important *but* – the Royal Family does need to lean into the “family” aspect of the business. Joint engagements, signs of solid relationships, and a healthy working atmosphere between all of the royal households and various nuclear families is important.
I think a lot has been up in the air in the leadup to the coronation. With that behind us, I’m hoping everyone finds a new, more consistent rhythm.