On Tuesday the Duchess of Cambridge carried out a solo engagement at Evelina London Children’s Hospital, a pretty straightforward outing if ever there was one. She was there to participate in an arts and craft session with children in her capacity as both the hospital’s patron and the National Portrait Gallery’s, which runs creative workshops for young patients throughout London.
On Monday the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended a memorial service in Central Hall commemorating the 75th anniversary of Auschwitz’s liberation. This was a pre-announced appearance, but prior to the event, Kensington Palace shared that Kate participated in a Holocaust Memorial Day Trust project that had her take two photographs of Holocaust survivors with their families. The pictures will feature in a broader exhibit the Trust is putting on in coordination with Jewish News and the Royal Photographic Society, the latter of which Kate is patron.
Last autumn was a crazy time for the House of Windsor, so an update on Princess Haya that I had planned for November fell through the cracks. Now that the dust has settled on Sussexit, let’s catch up on where we left off. As background for those new to this issue, Princess Haya is the estranged wife of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and ruler of the Emirate of Dubai. She “fled” Dubai for Europe over the summer and has subsequently settled in London with the couple’s two children where she’s now fighting for custody and other protections.
I wrote this morning’s post yesterday, noting at its end that we were still waiting for the Duchess of Cambridge’s first solo engagement of the New Year, but cautioning it could come at any moment. Well, indeed! A couple hours later Kensington Palace had a big announcement for us – Kate has unveiled a national survey asking five “big questions” to help improve early childhood. To mark the occasion, she is now undertaking a 24-hour “tour” of the UK, carrying out engagements in Birmingham, Cardiff, and Surrey.
As the Duke of Sussex took final leave of London and jetted back to Vancouver, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge carried out a new milestone in their own royal careers: hosting their first reception at Buckingham Palace. The juxtaposition remains startling, but this engagement came as close to a response as we’re going to get from the rest of the Family – a display of unity. While William and Kate headlined Monday evening, the Palace announced that they were to be flanked by the Princess Royal and the Earl and Countess of Wessex.
Well. It’s been three days since the Palace announced a Sussexit decision. On the day-of I did an informal chat with a few of you on Instagram, but I ended up holding off on a full post since details were still emerging through the evening and into the rest of the weekend. I’m glad that I waited, because I think we have a fuller picture of what’s happening now, but thank you for your patience as the dust settled!
Let’s not talk about Sussexit. Instead, let’s catch up on literally everyone else in the Royal Family, because surprisingly there’s been a fair bit going on. Most of what follows is from the last week, with a few tidbits that date back a little earlier but were lost in the Christmas shuffle.
In case there wasn’t enough royal drama going on for you, there’s an update in the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s lawsuit against the Mail on Sunday and its parent company, Associated Newspapers. As quick background, the Sussexes announced their suit in early October while they were touring South Africa. News broke alongside a passionate statement from Harry expressing his anger at how tabloids were covering his wife and comparing the situation to that which his mother experienced in the 1990s.
The crux of the issue is the publication of a letter Meghan wrote her father in the summer of 2018, which the Mail on Sunday published in February 2019. Per British copyright law, Meghan is the legal owner of her letter, and thus the suit argues, the tabloid didn’t have the right to publish excerpts without her mission. The suit also alleges that the letter was edited.
The work goes on. Today, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge carried out a series of engagements in Bradford, a town in West Yorkshire, for their first joint appearance of the New Year. It’s also the couple’s first away day of 2020, which the two have been doing more and more of over the last two years in an effort to see and be seen by more of England.
Yesterday was another marathon day for the Royal Family as they negotiate new roles for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. The Queen’s statement made clear that details are still being sorted, and in the meantime, the rest of the family is handling intense media scrutiny as they go about their daily business.
For starters, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have now both been photographed driving their children to school, a task they try to handle every day, usually without incident. That there are now photographers waiting for them at Kensington Palace’s gates is indicative of current interest in the Sussex situation, but also a warning of what could come. Without the Sussexes balancing out royal duties with the Cambridges, there’s potentially a lot more expectation concentrated on two adults and their three young children. I think we know enough about William to know he is not pleased.