Far be it from me to note the very real panic creeping into Salt Island’s post-QEII royal coverage. But there is a shift in the air, the dawning realization that the Firm is made up of several septuagenarians, plus the Wessexes and the Waleses. There will be most focus on Queen Camilla in the months to come, and the Countess of Wessex is already trying to publicly lobby for more attention. But the fact of the matter is that a national press is about to turn its focus on Prince William and Kate’s situation and marriage in an even bigger way. William has positioned himself as a Tory stooge, meaning the right-wing press has a vested interest in protecting their useful idiot. I’m just not sure that consideration extends to Kate. I thought of this as I read Camilla Tominey’s coverage of how the “wives of Windsor” are the new stars of the big show. Yes, Queen Camilla, Sophie, Princess Anne and Kate. The new “girl power” dynamic, as Tominey calls it. Infantilizing.
Safe hands: From Anne’s steely work ethic to Camilla’s role as the King’s rock, and with Sophie and Kate both bringing a welcome dose of normalcy to this more than 1,000-year-old institution, the newly-slimmed down Firm appears in safe hands. Once the former Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were viewed as the “fab four”. But with Harry and Meghan now off the scene and the disgraced Duke of York relegated from senior royal life, the Crown is more dependent on girl power than ever before. It might not quite be a case of “Charlie’s Angels”, but it certainly comes close.
They’re worried that Charles, William & George will be boring: That’s important when we’ve not only lost the grandmother of the nation but also face the prospect of three male monarchs. Of course, there is nothing wrong with an overtly alpha line of succession – but history from Nefertiti to Grace Kelly suggest that it is princesses who maintain the fervent interest in the royals, as well as making them seem relatable to the public.
Kate is not Diana: As the wife and mother of a future king, Kate, 40, is now the Diana figure that we have been missing since the Princess of Wales title was set aside with her death 25 years ago – highly photogenic, deeply maternal and with a likeability that appeals to people from all walks of life. Unlike Diana, however, she has the self-assuredness that comes with a stable family background – and 10 years of experience as a royal girlfriend before she even married William, 40. With more now expected of the couple – and the Prince of Wales needing to act as his father’s “liege man of life and limb” – he will become increasingly reliant on the wise counsel of this level-headed and unflappable future queen.
Kate will be compared to QEII, not Diana? As she grows into her more senior royal role, comparisons will inevitably be made not with Diana, but Queen Elizabeth – who, like Kate, gained a reputation for never putting a foot wrong. The Princess of Wales shares the late monarch’s mild-mannered nature, as well as her aversion to conflict. As we witnessed during the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, which reunited William and Harry just a month after that Oprah Winfrey interview, Kate is the Royal family’s most natural peacemaker.
Camilla is the power behind the throne: Those viewing the Queen Consort as a sort of jovial “plus one” misunderstand her influence not only on the monarch, 73, but also his court. It was Camilla, for instance, who insisted on the appointment of former newspaper executive Tobyn Andreae as the King’s new spokesman – a move that apparently even blindsided Sir Clive Alderton, the monarch’s long-serving private secretary. As one royal insider explained: “I think there is a sense that behind the scenes, it’s largely the Queen Consort who is running the show. She makes a lot more decisions than people think, especially with [former aide] Michael Fawcett out of the picture. She’s a stabilising and reassuring presence for the King. She makes him laugh and they have a lot of shared history together. He adores her and truly believes that she is the only person on earth who truly understands him.”
Charlie’s Angels = A rottweiler, a Keen peacemaker, Sophie the boring and Anne the hard-working. What a complete mess. This is also why there’s been so much coverage of Harry and Meghan since QEII passed away too. It’s not just that Charles and William were actively briefing against Harry and Meg, it’s that the British media knows that they’re stuck with some of the most unglamorous and uninteresting women in the country. Surely, we’re done with Kate’s keen peacemaker narrative now as well? Kate is a peacemaker without a poker face, who openly seethes and freezes out the women she hates. That’s not a peacekeeper, that’s a Mean Girl.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Cover Images.