As Prince Harry and Meghan Markle return to the UK for the Queen’s Jubilee, William and Kate have made a telling decision.
It’s not often that William and Kate, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, get a candid public review of their professional achievements – but thankfully that’s what Welsh retirees are for.
During the 2020 pandemic, the couple called the bingo numbers for residents of a care home in Cardiff via Zoom.
When they came up in person three months later and met the same residents, they were introduced to then 87-year-old Joan Drew-Smith, who wasted no time telling the future King and Queen what they thought of their bingo session.
“You’ve done a damn good job,” she said to William.
Joan also made headlines during that engagement when she pointed out Kate and asked, “Is that your assistant?”
Willem and Kate luckily found this all hilarious and as he later said, “If only everyone were as honest as them.”
If only, indeed.
And ‘if only’ when it comes to their return to Cardiff this weekend: it just happens to be the same day Harry and MeghanThe Duke and Duchess of Sussex will meet the Queen and finally introduce her to their daughter and her namesake Lilibet. (Their son Archie, three, will be there, too, of course.)
The Sussexes landed in the UK early Thursday morning, their first meaningful return to Harry’s homeland since their wintery departure from the royal ranks in 2020. They traveled via – what else? – private jet, landed at Farnborough airport, where they were met by one of Her Majesty’s own Range Rovers and three of her guards to make the half-hour journey to their home, Frogmore Cottage. (From the warm welcome: “The Queen believed this was the right thing to do,” an insider told… the sun†
They’re back of course because Thursday (London time) is the first of the four holidays for the Platinum Jubilee of the Queen, marking her historic 70 years on the throne. Take that Queen Victoria! The perennially stern queen has only scored 63 years, much of which she spent sour in Scotland and neglected a lick of duty.
The anniversary kicks off with Trooping the Colour, the Sovereign’s official birthday celebration, followed by a Thanksgiving service at St Paul’s on Friday, a concert at Buckingham Palace on Saturday night and a massive parade on Sunday with over 5,000 participants and a plethora of puppets.
It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that Harry and Meghan finally announced they would be attending the festivities, but a report came out claiming they were filming something that will be an “at-home” docu-series for Netflix. named. (What do they call a shovel in Montecito? A handmade soil removal device?)
While Harry and Meghan, now private individuals, will not appear in any official capacity, we will still see them again in the royal modesty. For Trooping, they will reportedly be taken to Horse Guards Parade on ignominious buses with other extended members of the royal family, rather than making the journey in the royal carriage as they did in 2019. There, she and several outside Windsors will see the military witnessing the spectacle of the nearby Major General’s office.
Then on Friday the Duke and Duchess will be part of the vast sea of titled relatives who will join her Majesty at St Paul’s including pariah Prince Andrew for a thanksgiving service.
With an unspecified group of younger members of the royal family likely to be in the audience for Saturday’s conference, there’s a good chance we’ll see Harry and Meghan then, too. Ditto Sunday’s Pageant hoo-haa.
But of course this trip is about much more than giving Meghan a few chances to prove she can wear a fantastic hat that costs about as much as a used car. Oh no. This is also a biggie in a strictly personal sense.
Harry’s relatives haven’t seen his son Archie since 2019 and baby Lili has never set foot on British soil.
Of course, in the intervening years not only has their family grown, but Harry and Meghan have rebelled in the most spectacular way, breaking through the royal ranks to tell a reported global audience of 50 million people how institutionally racist and cruel the palace is.
It was not only the palace that was in the crosshairs of the Sussexes during that interview, but also Kate, with… Meghan telling the world that her sister-in-law made her cry in the run-up to their 2018 wedding. (There had been previous reports that Meghan had made Kate cry, a topic the Duchess of Cambridge has never discussed publicly.)
It didn’t help this fraught situation that the duo reportedly “told, not asked” Her Majesty that they wanted to co-opt her lifelong nickname for their daughter.
Or to put it another way, it is the Duke and Duchess of Sussex who are responsible for causing one of the greatest crises in modern royal history and it is the Duke and Duchess of Sussex who have now appeared (at least in part) for crumpets and some quality time with the family.
So we come to the very curious question of the timing of the great family reunion, which according to… the sunset for Saturday.
Rather than attend that day’s anniversary event (the Derby in Epsom), the 96-year-old queen will instead enjoy a reunion with her beloved grandson and his family.
Curious then that the day destined for Harry’s emotional return to the royal bosom just happens to be the same day the remaining working members of the royal family will all be waving the flag for the monarchy across the country. (Princess Anne goes to Scotland on Friday and the Cambridges go to Wales on Saturday, and Edward and Sophie, Earl and Countess of Wessex leave for Northern Ireland.)
Was it just a matter of busy diaries clashing, or something more calculated that explains why this transatlantic family gathering was in the works, right now Cambridges are far from Windsor?
To be fair, Saturday will be Lili’s first birthday, with plans for the toddler to enjoy a little party at Frogmore Cottage.
But do we seriously believe that the only courtiers who could find Her Majesty’s agenda for this touching family gathering happened to be exactly when William and Kate will be more than 200 miles away?
Given the pronounced vinegary relationship between the Cambridges and the Sussexes, how likely is it that they might schedule another meeting outside of Saturday’s scheduled meeting?
A few days ago the mirror reported that William and Harry have regularly shared FaceTime calls to “rebond”, but that “Meghan and Kate, both 40, have not had any on-screen contact so far.”
Again, this would hardly suggest that some sort of merry afternoon tea filled with jammy dodgers is on the menu for the two couples.
Which gives us the possibility that Harry, Meghan, Archie and Lili spend most of a week in the UK and not really catch up with William and Kate and their children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
That would be a shame for the five little ones, given how close both William and Harry are with their various cousins and how those relationships seem to have blossomed in adulthood. (They have, Mike Tindall once revealed, a WhatsApp group and all.)
With the anniversary kicking off, an event featuring horses, kids, fake corgis, thousands of performers, the military, and Netflix’s most talked-about staff, all that’s left to say here is pob lwc, which is, of course, “good.” happiness’ in English. The queen, the horses and the children will all need it.
Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with over 15 years experience working with some of Australia’s leading media titles.
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