The Palace Paper: Part One

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Back in 2007, Tina Brown, former editor-in-chief of Tatler, Vanity Fair, and the New Yorker, wrote what I consider to be the definitive biography on Diana, Princess of Wales. The Palace Papers, released on Tuesday, is essentially its sequel. It picks up where Diana’s life ended, in the late 90s, but it spends the first few chapters strategically weaving around to cover the Diana-adjacent figures and relationships that are informing the current House of Windsor.

So far, I’m only about 150 pages in, but I would say the focus of the attention thus far is on capturing the broad trajectories, relationships, and emotional realities of two rather important royal women today: Queen Elizabeth and her daughter-in-law, The Duchess of Cornwall. There’s also a solid dash of Princess Margaret, the Queen’s late sister, and The Earl and Countess of Wessex (Edward and Sophie). I don’t have a precise agenda for how I’m going to cover this book, but for the purposes of this post, I want to capture the quotes and tidbits that I’ve found the most informative.

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Let’s Catch Up on H&M’s “Secret Meeting”

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Well, we have a lot to catch up on. I was out of town over Easter weekend and then playing catch up with life, so obviously the Windsors took that opportunity to do the absolute most 😉 Today I want to cover Harry and Meghan’s surprise visit to England, as well as a few other odds and ends that have hit the press over the last two weeks. But, let’s start with the big one: Harry and the Queen.

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BRF Attends Duke of Edinburgh Memorial at Westminster

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This morning saw the British Royal Family turn out for a service of thanksgiving honoring the late Duke of Edinburgh. Held at Westminster Abbey, the event not only saw a full array of Windsors, but several visiting representatives of Europe’s royal families as well. With the ceremony lasting roughly 40 minutes, Queen Elizabeth then returned to Windsor Castle.

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Oceans Rise, Empires Fall

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As many of you may have seen, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge just wrapped up an eight-day tour of Belize, Jamaica, and the Bahamas. You may have also seen that this tour went a little differently than we’re used to – specifically, this wasn’t a multi-day deluge of glowing news coverage. So, let’s get into what happened and what this week signifies for the Royal Family. (And for everyone who was offended by my criticism of The Duchess of Sussex in the last post, today’s your lucky day – I am an equal opportunist with criticism, thank you very much.)

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A Royal Family After Philip

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When I first started writing here in January 2017 I was a little mad at myself for not having started sooner. The year felt so random at first, coming on the heels of the relatively quiet 2016 and well after the births of Prince George and Princess Charlotte. In retrospect, that year was the beginning of a new royal era – William and Kate moving back to London, William beginning as a full-time royal, the introduction and then engagement of Meghan, and, of course, The Duke of Edinburgh’s retirement.

His final engagement that summer was one of the more moving I’ve covered here and the images captured during it (such as the one above) were incredible. Philip retiring from public life was in and of itself historical – as has been captured in countless headlines and articles covering his life and death over the last few weeks, he was the longest-serving consort in British history. For the three years after his retirement he remained primarily at Wood Farm, a smaller residence on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, while the Queen split her time between Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. Last March, so as to ensure safety during quarantine, Philip joined his wife at Windsor.

His presence has thus been behind-the-scenes, of late. Very much a part of the family, but not necessarily the institution. Decisions and machinations that will drive how the Royal Family functions going forward have fallen to the Queen and The Prince of Wales – we saw this with how the two handled The Duke of York and The Duke of Sussex, the latter situation also roping in The Duke of Cambridge. Philip’s death, therefore, feels even more so like a family’s private loss. He took his leave of us, the public, a few years ago now.

With that, let’s turn to the funeral and what’s come out of it.

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BRF Responds to Oprah Interview

A few hours ago, Buckingham Palace released a statement on the Queen’s behalf that read:

“The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan. The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately. Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members.”

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Royal Roundup: Keep Calm & Carry On

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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.

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The Sandringham Summit

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Happy Monday, everyone. It’s been a very full four days since we last checked in here on Sussexit, so let’s get right to it. Following a meeting this afternoon at Sandringham between the Queen, Prince of Wales, and Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex, the Queen released the following statement:

“Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family.

“My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family. Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.

“Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives. It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK. These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days.”

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Sussexit 2020

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Well. Wednesday was a crazy day. If you missed the drama, then you can catch up here on the initial wave of reporting. Today, we’re going to touch on some odds and ends that didn’t make it into my initial post because of all the information coming out, as well as weigh in on some of the reactions and narratives beginning to build.

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2019’s Engagement Numbers & What They Tell Us

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[N.B. The below post was written before the Sussexes’ news yesterday. Since it’s not overly relevant to this topic, I haven’t edited it, save one little note at the end.]

Before we get started, Happy Birthday to the Duchess of Cambridge, who turns 38 today! The occasion was marked at Anmer Hall last weekend, but I’m sure there are some day-of festivities planned now that the family has returned to London. We’ll next see her out and about on Wednesday when she and the Duke visit Bradford for their first engagement of the new year.

With that, let’s turn to the matter at hand: last year’s engagement numbers. If you keep up with royal news then you may have seen the end-of-year articles tracking who the “hardest working” member of the Royal Family was in 2019. If you read more than one, then you may have noticed very different statistics get reported. There’s no exact science to these tallies – what constitutes an engagement is in the eye of the beholder, however the most traditional approach is to count it if it made it into the Court Circular.

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