Despite being “under the radar” since their return from touring Canada and the US in July, the number of small news stories released this week about William and Kate has taken a dramatic upturn.
Surely no one can forget the images of William and Kate driving away from Buckingham Palace in the blue convertible after April’s royal wedding. In an interview, royal photographer Arthur Edwards of The Sun shared a conversation he had with Prince Charles shortly after April’s nuptials. Received as a gift from the Queen on his 21st birthday, Arthur asked if Charles minded that William borrowed the prized Aston Martin. Confirming that William received permission to use the car, Charles grumbled in a typical fatherly fashion that William forgot to “take the hand brake off” before setting off. Perhaps the cheers of the crowd were so loud that William didn’t notice something was wrong with the car?
In an interview for an upcoming biography on the Queen, Prince William recalled receiving the first official guest list for his wedding. Seeing that the list contained many people he did not know, William phoned up the Queen and said, “‘Do we need to be doing this?’ and she said, ‘No. Start with your friends and go from there.’ And she told me to bin the list.” This insight reveals much about how the Queen cherishes her family and can dispense with official royal protocol when she desires.
The interview also provided understanding about William’s cherished relationship with his grandmother. Although William often tries to persuade the Queen to reduce her schedule of engagements, “she won’t have anything of it” and intends to continue well beyond her Diamond Jubilee next year. “She’ll want to hand over knowing she’s done everything she possibly could to help, and that she’s got no regrets and no unfinished business; that she’s done everything she can for the country and not let anyone down – she minds an awful lot about that.” It is clear from this quote that even after 59 years (and counting) on the throne, the Queen still takes her sacred coronation oath very seriously and will serve her people as long as she is able.
The Queen and William also regularly discuss the subject of royal tours. William recalled that the Queen was especially keen about her official visit to Ireland in May, the first visit by a British monarch since 1911. “She was so excited about it and really looking forward to it. It was quite sweet. This was like a big door opening up to her that had been locked for so long.” After completing his recent royal tours, William received “debriefings” from Queen about how the tour went. For example, earlier this year William received a letter of praise after completing his trip to earthquake-ravaged New Zealand. “The Queen sent me the most wonderful letter saying ‘Congratulations’ and ‘Well done, you did well down there’, which meant a lot to me. When you get a letter from her with a bit of praise, it goes a long, long way, more so than anyone else, because there’s such a gravitas behind those words.”
With the closure of the summer exhibits at Buckingham Palace tomorrow, royal aides have confirmed that Kate’s wedding dress will go into storage in the Royal Collection. Despite Kate’s pride in the workmanship in the dress and desire to keep the dress on indefinite public show, experts with the Royal Collection persuaded Kate that the dress was too delicate to be permanently displayed. Instead, the dress will go into storage and be exhibited sometime in the future.
While William spent the week on duty with his RAF unit in Wales, Kate was in London meeting with experts from the entertainment, arts and media worlds in preparation for her official royal duties. The Telegraph reports that Kate is being “briefed on how the State works, getting to know national institutions better and learning more about organisations such as the arts, the media and the government.” While these briefings will last several months, Kate has also been spending her time conducting private research to determine her future involvement with charities. This “princess training” is a new concept for the royal family, who received strong criticism from Princess Diana for not supporting her when she first joined the royal family. Diana felt that no planning had gone into her future role since Palace staff basically thought she could “adapt to being Princess of Wales overnight”. To remedy this situation, William made it clear during their engagement interview that Kate would have as much support as needed during her introduction to her royal role. While Kate is not expected to make any decisions on her choice of charities until after the New Year, she is said to currently favor “project-based” support for individual charity campaigns rather than being tied to a lifetime of support to a set number of charities. This longer term support will likely come later, once William and Kate assume their royal duties full-time.
In addition to her on-going training, William and Kate arrived for a visit on Thursday to the Royal Marsden Hospital. Although William had served a 24-hour shift the day before, Prince William was in good spirits and joked that he had an “early morning”. Serving since 2007 as President, the Royal Marsden Hospital is a cause close to William’s heart since he feels he is continuing his mother’s work. (Diana previously held the title of President and the Hospital was the site of her first solo royal engagement.) After opening a new children’s cancer unit, William and Kate met with several young patients and their parents, who were impressed that Kate asked so many questions about their children’s experience and treatment. By undertaking engagements as a couple, Kate is getting the opportunity to learn from William and engage with the public in a supportive learning environment.
Despite their busy schedules, William and Kate are keen to spend as much time as possible together before William’s expected deployment to the Falkland Islands with his RAF squadron next year. Kate is unable to accompany William to this posting, so this revelation is not surprising.
As for his future role, William confessed he tries not to think about becoming king and would like to stay a pilot for as long as possible before taking on royal duties full time. Scheduled to leave the RAF in about 20 months after a 3 year tour, William has discussed staying longer with the Queen and Prince of Wales, who have offered their full support. Currently William combines his full time pilot duties with approximately 40 engagements a year for the charities he supports. “As I’m flying along in my helicopter through the mountains of Wales, I try desperately hard not to think about it. That can wait until I’m a bit older.”