Rabu, 14 April 2021

Kate Middleton’s crucial role in reconciling Princes William and Harry -

Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, has a bad reputation, in some quarters anyway; the reputation of a woman who is nothing but a fragrant, essentially ornamental presence.

Now, having fulfilled her fecund duty by producing an heir and two spares, she has essentially achieved the core competency which her job requires her to do.

Au contraire.

We could get into Kate’s Early Years work here, the goal of which is nothing short of reducing homelessness, addiction and mental health issues in future generations in the UK, but I won’t. (Oh, but we will one day, don’t you worry.)

Instead, let’s talk about the key role that Kate has been required to assume in the past and one which this week she will have to take on with nothing short of UN-worthy diplomacy and the sort of grit which would have impressed her Queenly forebears: Peacemaker.

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Today, Prince Harry is back in the UK and back at Frogmore Cottage, the Windsor home that he and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, lived in for only around 19 months before trading Blighty for West Coast good vibes and whopping eight-figure business deals.

His return to the royal fold ahead of his grandfather Prince Philip’s funeral on Saturday comes at exactly the worst moment with the bitter aftertaste of he and Meghan’s recent Oprah Winfrey TV interview still very much in people’s mouths.

Being reunited with one’s estranged family would be hard enough at the best of times, let alone barely a month since fronting TV cameras and telling a global audience of 50 million just how crummy, racist and heartless that family and the organisation they front are.

Fraught? Strained? Stressful enough that one might need a quadruple G&T with a whiskey chaser? You betcha.

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Since returning to Britain, Harry and William have reportedly spoken on the phone, no word on whether it was all awkward silences or invective-filled hot-headedness. However, crucially, the men won’t come face-to-face until Saturday’s service due to the quarantine protocols Harry is now following.

And this is where Kate comes in.

Because let’s hope she has a pastel blue beret somewhere in her vast hat collection because she just might need it in the coming days. The responsibility now rests on her narrow shoulders to try to help her husband and beloved brother-in-law heal the breach.

No pressure now. It’s just the future stability and longevity of the monarchy at stake.

According to The Telegraph, “The Duchess of Cambridge … will help to broker peace between her husband and brother-in-law.”

A source told the newspaper: “Being so close to her own siblings, Pippa and James, and having witnessed first-hand the special bond between William and Harry, she has found the whole situation difficult and upsetting.

“She is certainly someone who shies away from conflict and will be hoping to soothe the tensions.”

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You’ve got to give the woman points for optimism.

As the world held its breath in the days before the Sussexes’ Oprah interview aired, a friend of Cambridges told The Telegraph that the couple “remain hopeful of a reconciliation with Harry and Meghan” and that “there has been a lot of sadness over what has happened, but ultimately they want things to improve between them in the fullness of time”.

It’s worth remembering here that when William and Harry’s relationship started to crumble, reportedly after the elder Wales cautioned the younger over the breakneck speed his romance with Meghan was progressing at, it is not just the men who lost out but Kate too.

Since long before William slipped Diana’s enormous sapphire engagement ring on her finger in 2010, Harry was a regular presence at Kate’s side.

In 2008, when royal cousin Peter Phillips and his bride decided to sell the shots of their wedding to Hello! magazine, one of the most striking things when you look at the shockingly personal shots is Harry (and his then-girlfriend Chelsy Davy’s) clear bond with his brother’s girlfriend.

For Kate, her attendance at the do was a milestone event; she was attending in William’s stead and it would be the first time she would attend a function with the Queen and the rest of the royal family. However, peruse the pics of that day (thank you Hello! and your fat cheque book) and there is Harry steadfastly by Kate’s side.

And it was Harry who took the helm and organised their disco-themed wedding ‘after-party’ in 2011.

Later, by the time Kate had achieved Duchess-dom and was beginning her own royal career, Harry, William and Kate became a sort of ‘book two, get one royal free’ package deal. In 2016, they all teamed up to launch the truly impressive mental health charity Head’s Together, one of their most notable achievements to date.

However, Meghan’s Oprah revelations about the royal house didn’t just take a broad aim at the whole gilded edifice but also directly at Kate herself.

When asked by the TV titan about reports which have long circulated alleging that Meghan made her sister-in-law cry ahead of the Sussexes’ 2018 wedding, the LA-native said: “No, the reverse happened.”

“It was a really hard week of the wedding, and she was upset about something. But she owned it, and she apologised, and she brought me flowers and a note apologising. She did what I would do if I knew that I hurt someone, to just take accountability for it.”

Ouch all around.

For Kate to now act as a mediator, she would have to move beyond recent events and put the greater good of the crown ahead of whatever her own feelings might be.

There is more riding on Kate acting as conciliator par excellence than family peace.

While superficially the melodrama of the last few years could be brushed off as nothing more than a brotherly squabble that has been allowed to fester, the problem is that when it comes to the house of Windsor, family clashes have far wider reaching implications for the whole institution of the monarchy.

William and Harry, and their respective families, were the only HRHs of their generation to be allowed to officially represent Her Majesty and to carry on with the business of royalty. Megxit cut that workforce by half leaving only William and Kate to shoulder the entire burden.

Because, what does it say about an institution if two of its leading lights will take such drastic lengths to get out?

That a man raised in palaces and committed to a life of duty ultimately decided that the remaining in the midst of things was so toxic he had no choice but to leave will continue to be a stain on the royal family’s image they can’t get rid of or ignore, no matter how much they might try to gamely sell their ‘we’re getting on with things!’ schtick.

Which is why Kate’s mediator role is such a loaded and deeply important one. This isn’t just about mending a fraternal rift but helping patch up the royal house’s image after its most ruinous, ugly chapter in decades.

Until that happens, everyone from the Queen down to her new dorgi puppies will remain locked in the PR doom loop the entire palace has been trapped in for years now.

For the royal family to get back on that whole surviving in the 21st century caper, they need the acrimony tidied up and locked away in some 18th-century Chippendale armoire that they accidentally lose the key to.

Forget dismissing Kate as a decorative broodmare; right now she is the closest thing the palace has to Kofi Annan or Boutros Boutros-Ghali.

Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with more than 15 years experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media titles.

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2021-04-14 08:19:18Z

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