The Duchess of Cambridge’s decision to kick-start her children’s royal careers is a risky move that could backfire.
From all the years of meticulous planning that went into the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Lovely Jubbly Knees-Up Extraordinary, from all the preparation of the horses, the fireworks, the puppets, the fighter jets, the CGI bear and Kate Moss getting out of bed before noon. , there was one crucial factor which the courtiers overlooked.
The awesome power of little kids jumped on the sugar.
During Trooping the Colour, the Palace Party and the People’s Contest, the show’s stahhhhhs were the children of the royal family, including William and The children of Kate, Duke and Duchess of CambridgePrince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
Throughout the various events, these three, aided and abetted by their cousins Tindall and Phillips, put on a spirited display of monkey business of a caliber not seen since the parties when the Princess Margaret struck her second bottle of gin and her third Al Jolson record.
During a podcast appearance this week, Mike Tindall, who is married to Princess Anne’s daughter Zara, revealed that one of the reasons for the royal children’s hyperactive turn was the sheer volume of sweets on offer.
“Louis, he just wanted to have fun. And my two are always mischievous, so I try to stay in control,” Tindal said.
“There were a lot of sweets in the back, so there was real sugar.”
(Obviously. No four-year-old was going to be so excited at an event featuring Sir Cliff Richard without some form of stimulant.)
Still, the Jubilee was an absolute PR slam dunk for Buckingham Palace, thanks in large part to the adorably cheeky antics of the Cambridge Three. Hooray! It should be time to break the Pimms and put his church brogues in place a bit!
Except I think there was also something much darker last weekend.
Because, if the monarchy unequivocally won the battle of hearts (if not of minds) during the Jubilee, this success was at the expense of George, Charlotte and Louis.
You see, so far William and Kate have given glimpses of their children to the public and the press with incredible precision and care. The three young HRHs were like white rhinos on the Serengeti, rare and exotic creatures of which we would get fleeting and tantalizing glimpses when Kensington Palace released photos, taken by Kate, to mark their birthdays.
Everything was calculated, weighed and measured, not a skerrick more access granted to outsiders than was necessary to fulfill the informal bargain struck between the Palace and the press nearly a decade ago when George was a baby .
It all went out the window over the weekend.
That the Palace deployed the children was no huge surprise – William made his parade car procession debut aged four – but what came as a real shock was the extent in which George, Charlotte and Louis seemed everywhere, all of a sudden.
What we were witnessing, one deliciously impudent image of Louis after another, was that the Cambridge children were going wild as working members of the Royal Family and the starting gun was being fired on their palace careers.
Every time they laughed, clapped, waved and sang in full view of the world and the global media, these children were turned into public property to a degree they had never been before.
Whether consciously or not, what we were looking at was a rebranding exercise.
On Saturday, it wasn’t just William and Kate who traveled to Cardiff for an official engagement, but also George and Charlotte.
Until now, William and Kate have been “sold” as a dynamic duo; during this Welsh escapade and more generally during the Jubilee, what we were witnessing was the repackaging of this double act into an eminently even more marketable family unit.
The whole world swallowed it all. And why not?
Even Prince Charles got in on the act and capitalized on all that Cambridge cuteness, with his Clarence House social media team posting a photo of him with Louis in his lap, writing “We hope you enjoy watching the # PlatinumJubileePageant as much as we are!🤩”
There was clearly a strategic element to all of this, with the Palace playing their three Cambridge ace cards to sensational effect, the whole Jubilee buoyed by a certain desperation to wash away the bitter taste of Megxit and Prince Andrew from the mouths of the audience.
What is not up for debate is what won all of this was right – what is most certainly is whether in the longer term all of this will backfire on us and if wrong.
For one thing, now that the Cambridge kidlet genie is out of the bottle, there’s no way to put it back.
Having made their official debuts as public figures, how much might that change the cautious balance that Kensington Palace enjoys with the British press? Can William and Kate still occupy the high moral ground and insist on their children’s privacy if they are selectively willing to expose their children when it suits them?
There’s also the fact that the global spotlight on these kids has been strained and they’re only going to get hotter and more intense. (Fleet Street does not usually publish pictures of George, Charlotte and Louis caught off guard, but magazines and newspapers outside the UK, the German and Italian tabloids in particular, have no such qualms and do. often.)
Beyond all that, what about the price George, Charlotte, and Louis might pay as people?
The emotional and psychological demands placed on frontline royal children in the name of the monarchy make me deeply uncomfortable.
Of all the quirks and anachronisms of royalty, one is that there is no other industry where children can be put to work at the age of four and the whole world applauds.
We have the ultimate in reliable sources on this front. Prince Harry has now spoken twice about the heavy personal toll of being forced into a public role as a child when he was forced to walk behind his mother’s coffin aged just 12 year. (That’s only three years older than George now.)
He said in a 2017 Newsweek interview: “My mother had just died, and I had to walk for a long time behind her coffin, surrounded by thousands of people watching me while millions of others were watching on television.
“I don’t think a child should be forced to do this under any circumstances. I don’t think that would happen today.
The sad thing is that I’m not sure it wouldn’t happen after the Jubilee events.
What I fail to understand here is why William and Kate accepted this drastic shift in their party line when it came to their children. As adults, they both made a conscious decision to devote themselves to the monarchy, but they regularly talked about how much they wanted their children to have as normal a childhood as possible.
So why this sort of about-face?
After all those years of rushing to school and attending parents’ nights at the pub and teaching their children the dark art of using the cash machine at Waitrose?
Even leaving aside the question of motivation, there are other possible damaging consequences of this strategy for the royal family.
By following this tried-and-tested plan of releasing tiny HRHs dressed as haunted Victorian dolls to whet the public’s appetite for the monarchy, they run the risk of coming off as mercenaries, essentially willing to use their children to get better ratings. public approval.
Perhaps sacrificing emotional well-being for queen and country? Interestingly, that’s exactly what Harry warned the world about
I’m not saying here that all of this would have been easy for William and Kate, mind you. I have no doubt the pressure on them must be enormous to deploy their children for the greater royal good and as loving parents who only want the best for them, they must have to make extremely difficult decisions.
However, therein lies the horrible catch for the Duke and Duchess. The primary responsibility for their day-to-day work – safeguarding the future of the monarchy – completely contradicts their primary responsibility as parents – to do everything to protect their children.
Next month the Commonwealth Games get underway in Birmingham with William and Kate very likely to show up in their Union Jacks waving their bit for Team GB. Will we also see George, Charlotte and Louis there?
Mike Tindall said on this Young Royals podcast: “It’s tough for them. They’re all young. It’s a long time. But as any parent knows, you do whatever needs to be done.
It would seem that the same is true for the waiting kings and queens.
Daniela Elser is a royal pundit and writer with over 15 years of experience working with a number of top media titles in Australia.
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