January has always been a notoriously slow month in terms of royal “news”. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh are at Sandringham, where they’ll remain until shortly after February 6th, the anniversary of her father’s death and her subsequent accession to the throne. Charles and Camilla are enjoying time off after a stellar 2013 which saw the Heir Apparent named Britain’s Busiest Royal, having completed 442 engagements in the UK and 95 on official overseas tours. William is studying at Cambridge; Kate is holding down the fort at home with George, and Harry is laying low before returning to his base.
With nothing concrete to report, many of the same old stories have been resuscitated this month, along with a smattering of others that are ridiculous in the extreme.
In recent weeks the Queen has been much maligned for not accepting posies of flowers from awaiting children outside St. Mary Magdalene Church at Sandringham. Headlines blazed “The Queen Snubs Onlookers” and “The Queen Refuses to Accept Flowers in Person for a Second Time”. There is no precedent for accepting flowers other than on Christmas Day, and consequently there should be no expectation that the Queen ever will. If she were to collect flowers from one she would have to collect flowers from all on every Sunday thereafter, and though she may seem immortal, asking her to stand around on parade in the freezing cold at 87 seems a little excessive, no? She attends church for the religious ceremony. She is not there to conduct an official engagement, so to portray the Queen as a rotten old meanie who shuns awaiting onlookers seems grossly unfair.
Her Majesty caused yet more scandal when she reportedly demanded Harry shave his much-admired beard. Household staff are required to be clean-shaven, as were the employees of Disneyland until 2012, when they were finally allowed to grow a beard as long as it is kept “short and trim”. Many employers have certain requirements when it comes to presentation in the work place, however those same rules do not apply to members of the royal family. The Queen is a figurehead not a dictator, and she would never “demand” that her adult grandson, approaching thirty, shave. If anyone were to demand that Harry shave, it would be his military superiors. Harry is not the first royal to have sported a beard during the Queen’s reign. Prince Michael of Kent has had one for decades, and Princes Philip, Charles, Andrew and William have all been bearded at one time or another. She might not like it, but would she mandate Harry shave it off? Categorically, no!
Continuing the madness, last week a tabloid cover stated “It’s Official…Kate’s Pregnant Again”. No doubt they will continue to do so until she actually is, at which point they will scream EXCLUSIVE from the rooftops. While it may sound terribly clinical, royals plan. With a tour to Australia and New Zealand coming up in the spring, and with George being only six months old, a second pregnancy is optimistic at best. But you can rest assured that when Kate really is pregnant again, The Star won’t have it exclusively.
Following excessive engagement talk, Harry and Cressida break-up rumors are now rife due to the fact that they haven’t been seen together recently. While it is true that the couple did not in fact go skiing after the New Year, I believe it’s highly improbable they’ve broken up. More likely, not being seen together is a calculated maneuver by Harry and Cressida to get the press off their backs. Talk of an engagement is premature, but Cressida has already made a number of sacrifices in order to be with Harry, and he is clearly smitten with her, so before tea-towels go into production, this will be their way of telling everyone to calm down!
Royal aides generally don’t respond to stories circulating on the royal rumor mill. There wouldn’t be enough hours in the day, and denials from behind palace walls only serve to fuel stories further. It must be interminably frustrating, however, for both staff and the royal in question to read the litany of gossip, especially when it’s speedily tweeted, re-tweeted, facebooked and instagramed around the world.
Over the years there have been plenty of royal scandals, from toe sucking and naked billiards to embarrassing private phone calls and topless photos leaked to the press, but if and when those particular stories are true, they are usually backed up with evidence of some description no matter how salubriously it was attained. So should you find yourself reading an article based on a quote from “an insider” or “a friend,” take a moment to ask yourself could this really be true? Chances are you’ll promptly be shaking your head and saying, “nah!” Now what was that about Jennifer Aniston being pregnant…???