As we enter December, I’m expecting yet another round of sniping and passive-aggression from the British tabloids about the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and how “normal” they are. William and Kate have tried, in years past, to modernize the traditional royal Christmas so it can be a happier, more kid-friendly event. The problem is that, as with most everything, the Cambridges seem more like Middletons than Windsors. To be fair, the Windsor family Christmas seems dreadfully dull and Germanic – no presents on Christmas, no small children at Christmas lunch – but Will and Kate have gone too far with their “modern, normal” Christmas plans and risked offending the Queen. Tom Sykes at The Daily Beast tries to put a positive spin on how Normal Will and Normal Kate have “revolutionized” the royal Christmas, but all I can think is that Carole is the puppetmaster, the man behind the curtain. Some highlights:
The royal Christmas tradition. William & Harry’s childhood Christmases included “starched clothes, church and, worst of all, no presents. They were all opened the day before on Christmas Eve, leaving the big day itself reserved for lots of God and plenty of duty. The highlight of the Royal Christmas Day was watching the Queen’s Speech on telly at 3 p.m. It was all rather joyless, not helped by the fact that only the Queen’s immediate family were invited to lunch, with in-laws being persona non-grata.”
Kate wants her kids to have normal Christmases. “Kate is said to be driven by a determination that her children grow up participating in a convincing simulacrum of normal life, and celebrating a ‘normal’ Christmas is a key part of that. Crafty Kate did not, however, rush to make changes to the royal Christmas format. For the first few years of her marriage to William, she patiently toed the line, giving her gifts on Christmas Eve and allowing them to be laid out on tables in the red Drawing Room by staff (according to the Germanic custom of the royals).”
The Queen won’t even watch her speech with the rest of the family? Christmas lunch “has to be finished well before 3 p.m. to allow guests to move through to the drawing room to watch the Queen’s speech. Adding to the iciness, the Queen splits off from her family and watches her address in private on her own.”
The segregation of children: “Sources say that children are not allowed to join the adults for any meals at Sandringham until they are 11 or 12, eating instead in a separate room. This segregation is thought to have been a deciding factor that pushed William and Kate to make changes to the festive routine, which manifested in last year’s overhaul for Prince George’s second Christmas.”
The Cambridges’ big change: Will and Kate now cut out on the Windsors after church on Christmas so they can go back to Anmer Hall with the Middleton family. They exchange gifts and have a long, relaxed lunch. This became “a clear statement that the Cambridges were unafraid to leave behind the antiquated traditions slavishly adhered to by generations of royals and inherited from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. These days, the principal influence on the Cambridge Christmas is not Queen Victoria, but Carole Middleton.”
Some aristocrats don’t like the Cambridges’ “normal” act: “But there are, of course, some old-fashioned courtiers in the palace who resent Kate and William’s remorseless modernizing and democratizing of royal custom. They do not think that it is the wisest course of action for them to strive to be ‘just like everyone else.’ One aristocrat told the Daily Beast: ‘Shouldn’t they be a bit different [from the rest of Britain]? Isn’t that part of the point of them?’”
As I’ve said before, the starched, Germanic Christmas traditions sound like hell to me. Of course Kate wanted to find a different way to do Christmas so she could – GASP! – actually spend the holiday with her small children. But… I also understand why the Cambridges are ruffling so many feathers. It’s not just avoiding the Queen on Christmas day, it’s that the whole Middleton clan decamps to Anmer for weeks on end, and the Queen doesn’t even get to see George and Charlotte. And it seems like Will and Kate will always choose Carole and Mike over the Queen and the Prince of Wales. Royal Christmas is Dysfunction Junction.
Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet and WENN.