Sky News’ royal reporter Rhiannon Mills did a *fascinating* piece a few days ago. The piece was called “Has the duke left behind his ‘Workshy William’ title for good?” It’s about, you guessed it, whether Prince William is still lazy as hell. Mills writes that her sources – mostly other royal reporters – say that William is suddenly keen, and that the pandemic has been good for him because he can Zoom from home and that means he “works” more. Who knew that all of this time, William would have gladly taken on more work if that work was just a weekly Zoom call? Some highlights from the story:
Watching William speak to emergency responders: As I watched him talk to rescue volunteers about mental health support, the subject of COVID-19 of course came up. The pandemic has had a significant effect on the reputations of many politicians and public figures, and that includes the Royal Family and the Duke of Cambridge. Only a couple of years ago, headlines described him as “workshy William” – suggesting he was reluctant to take on royal responsibilities full-time. Gradually that view has changed, but this time of national crisis has in many ways accelerated that shift.
William has relaxed: The Royal Family has had to adjust to working in different ways, but who would have expected to see William and Kate being bingo callers on a Zoom call, playing the machines at the amusement arcade at Barry Island, or William laughing with Peter Crouch over a curry at Kensington Palace? Like his wife Kate, William has appeared more relaxed and, some might say, more relatable. This new way of working from home seems to have suited the Cambridges.
William seems empathetic now? As Tessy Ojo, chief executive of the Diana Award said to me, William has come across as one of us, and shown what he has to offer as a future king. She said: “He really shows his own style, and his style is completely different from his mother, I mean from his father, or his grandmother. Our world has changed and people want to feel that they matter and that’s the thing that he constantly portrays – that your pain is my pain, even though I can’t exactly walk in your shoes, but I can bring the spotlight to your pain to help alleviate it.”
He’s a statesman? In recent years we have seen a statesmanlike shift in William’s demeanour, particularly on overseas tours to countries like Pakistan but also in his recent speeches, like the one he gave when he remotely opened the NHS Nightingale Hospital in Birmingham. Some of that will be down to William himself, but his former private secretary Simon Case has also been credited with helping that change. He recently left to head up the civil service, but I understand he will continue to advise the Duke.
Does he still wish he could be a gentleman farmer? Emily Andrews, royal editor at The Mail on Sunday, told me this week that when she was writing stories for The Sun a couple of years ago about William being a reluctant royal, one source said to her that William wanted to live the life of a gentleman farmer. It reminded me of how the Queen’s friends have often said that if she hadn’t been the monarch, she would have been happy just living in the countryside with her dogs and horses. You could say that Prince William, just like his grandmother, knows that service and duty must come first. That includes championing causes that he believes deserve more public attention during these difficult times.
I mean… this is the deal everyone made. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge successfully exiled the Sussexes so that Will & Kate would have all of the attention, all of the embiggening, all of the keenness. The Queen went along with it. Charles went along with it. And so now we’re seeing that deal come to fruition – Will & Kate are all they’ve got, in every sense. And no, I don’t think William is suddenly less work-shy this year. He Zooms some and he’s done a handful of public events, and beyond that, we have no idea what or who he’s doing (hint: rose-trimming). But at least Kate isn’t the only one getting these kinds of vague embiggening stories. Statesman Will, No Longer Work-Shy Will, Keen Bill.
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