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What Do Kate & the Cambridges Do During the Summer?

Friday, August 17, 2018

What do the Cambridges get up to during these lazy, hazy days of summer? As you know, the Cambridges did spend a fortnight in Mustique soaking up the sunshine. On their return, the family of five headed to their country house. Anmer Hall is nestled in the Norfolk countryside just by the Queen's Sandringham estate. William and Kate gave it a complete overhaul before moving in, and it is now the perfect royal retreat where they can indulge in quiet living and spend their days in privacy. They have a number of favorite pastimes. We know that Kate enjoys swimming, and takes George and Charlotte to the Buckingham Palace pool when the family is in London, but at Anmer they have a pool right in their backyard. 

An obvious requirement for Kate's dream country house is a tennis court, and Anmer has one of those, too. When they moved in, the original court was apparently dilapidated, though. So, in 2015 the Cambridges applied to their local planning board for permission to replace the old court with a new Astro-turf one. Kate told Judy Murray in 2017 that George was learning to play, but generally just whacked at the ball. The tennis super-mom gave Kate some tips on drills she could use to begin to hone George's skills. I am sure the Duchess is spending time getting both George and Charlotte handy with their rackets, but she also enjoys a competitive game with her husband William.  

The Cambridges venture beyond their own property line, of course, and Anmer Hall is not very far from the coast. Although the kids might have beach-fatigue after their fortnight in Mustique, it probably won't be long before they want to get back to the sand. George has been pictured in the past enjoying the chillier Norfolk beach with Carole Middleton. These pictures were taken on the morning of George's birthday (July!) in 2015. Carole was likely keeping him busy while Kate prepped a party at home. I am sure the Cambridges enjoy the beach as a family throughout the summer. 

Kate also loves to take her kids to farm-parks. When she heads to her parents' home in Bucklebury, Kate can take the little ones to the Bucklebury Farm Park. Happily, they have an option in Norfolk, too, where she has been pictured enjoying the play-sets at Snettisham Park. Bucklebury Farm Park banned guests from photographing other guests, and apparently Kate's PPOs are actually rather aggressive about cameras. 

I don't know if we haven't seen recent snaps of Kate at Snettisham because the Palace has successfully volleyed amateur photographers, or if with three children, it is easier for Kate to just stick to her own backyard and the private homes of her friends in the area. My suspicion is that she doesn't go to these local play parks as much anymore. That brings up the point that Kate and William have a very nice social set in Norfolk. The Meades are in the area, among others, and I am sure that the families gather at the various homes throughout the summer. Below Kate greets James Meade at polo just this summer:

Kate's 2016 appearance at the Houghton Horse Trials was with the Meades and was hosted on the estate of the Cholmondeleys, Houghton Hall.

The Cholmondeleys are friends, too, of course, and in 2016 they hosted the Taste of Norfolk fundraiser for EACH at their Houghton Hall home. 

So, the Cambridges have plenty of social outlets while in Norfolk, and opportunities to introduce their children to the children of their friends. I am sure these are very, very happy days for them.

Finally, in late August, the Cambridges will head from Norfolk north to Scotland to visit the Queen at her Scottish estate. The family visits Balmoral every year, although this year we might see them a little earlier than usual if they accommodate school schedules. Balmoral provides even more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and picnics by the river that are staples of their summer holidays. There are always pictures of William and Kate headed to church on Sunday, but when we are lucky we also get shots of them driving around the estate:

Come September, we should see the Cambridges return to London and enjoy the start of the red-carpet season. :) 

William and Kate at Basil's Bar Bash

Friday, August 3, 2018

Emily Nash had a Mustique exclusive a few days ago. She confirmed that William and Kate were on the island, as we suspected, and quoted sources who told her that the two attended the Basil's Bar bash together. I was 98% confident the initial report was correct, but without pictures, and given the unusual timing, I was not entirely certain. This gives the final seal of certainty in my book. 

Basil's Bar 
This party was at Basil's Bar. I wrote a fairly detailed history of Basil's Bar in my post The Mystique of Mustique, and of the man himself. For those who don't want to do the deep-dive, Basil has been around since the start of the Mustique adventure, and worked his way up from a bartender to the owner. William and Kate invited him to their wedding in 2011, so I think he clearly holds a special place in their ongoing memories of the island hideaway, and in their hearts. 

Emily's recent article (which you can read here) has some fun quotes from those who attended the party and saw Will and Kate. It is her comment toward the end of the piece that really highlights why William and Kate like to return to Mustique: 
Given the complete privacy of the exclusive island, it comes as no surprise that William and Kate take the opportunity to blend in with other tourists. With a no-fly zone enforced over Mustique and the discretion of other guests, the royals are able to truly relax and let their hair down. On previous trips, William and Kate have played tennis, gone snorkelling and scuba diving, and enjoyed cocktails at the five-star Cotton House resort.
In a  previous article, a fellow traveller spoke to Hello! and gave some insight into how thoroughly the Cambridges take advantage of their tropical trips.  Apparently, William and Kate are accomplished divers:
Martin Katz, a famed Beverly Hills jeweller, and his wife Kelly met the royals in 2008, and speaking exclusively to HELLO! in 2015, Kelly revealed: "They're quite the sportsmen. We went diving and they went very deep, more than 90ft. Our instructor said Martin and I weren't qualified to go on the shark dives they went on."
We know that William and Kate like to live "the ordinary life." From their university days at St. Andrews where they had a very cozy nook at a local pub to their low-key (but still glitzy) nights out at Bunga Bunga, they like the occasional date night. 

Their sweet date at the King's Head Hotel in Norfolk is still one of my favorite William and Kate sightings. They were both so naturally relaxed and Kate was dressed down with her hair in a clearly air-dried state of wavy glory. :) 

Or their movie nights grabbing popcorn before the show?

Digression into the date-spots of these two aside, the point is they like to get out like anyone else. In Mustique, they can enjoy the same type of beach holiday the rest of us can, without too much paparazzi interference. I was surprised that we didn't get a long lens of them at he beach, or a snap of them transferring at Saint Lucia on the way back. It is possible Hello! will launch an exclusive in the next few weeks, but if not it just shows that even the Cambridges can pull off the occasional complete coup. ;)

Happy Friday, all!

Meghan & Harry Should Not "Push the Envelope"

Monday, July 30, 2018

On Friday, the Duchess of Sussex attended her first red-carpet polo match as a royal. The new princess wore a feminine and flattering Carolina Herrera dress and carried a trendy J.Crew clutch. She posed with her dapper prince before enjoying a luxe luncheon, and of course, the match!

I mentioned on Instagram that it reminded me of Kate's appearance in Santa Barbara, which was her first big-ticket polo event post-wedding. These "firsts" are always very exciting for fans, and very memorable.

At the conclusion of the match, Meghan presented the winners with a trophy. Nacho Figueras, a champion player and chum of Harry's, accepted on behalf of the team. After congratulating him, Meghan swiveled and gave her Harry a congratulatory kiss. Unlike the more reserved Cambridges, Harry gave Meghan a full-on kiss, to the absolute delight of fans! It was a money shot, and I joined many royal fans smiling and applauding.

In the day or so after the picture went viral, though, Figueras posted a glowing tweet expressing his admiration for Meghan, but also with encouragement that is plain inappropriate. This is what he said:

This is terrible advice to give senior royals of a modern monarchy that wants to stay extant! The royals play an important role. They maintain traditions and stand for a history that is central to Britain's patrimony and national pride. The monarchy is a remarkable and admirable institution. But, if you review history, it is extraordinary that the monarchy still exists. There is little doubt that it does because Elizabeth II has carefully and with great pains helmed the ship through the very rocky waters of transition from the "old world" to today. 

The simple fact of the matter is that Harry and Meghan's job is not to push the envelope or, frankly, change the world. People who get to push the envelope and change the world are people who can take controversial positions, ruffle feathers, and alienate others in their chosen quest. On the other hand, people who are privileged to hold senior positions in institutions of tradition and history--and pass that precious heritage to another generation--they have to forego the rough and tumble. They don't get to push the envelope, and it is unlikely they will change the world in the immediate, action oriented sense we use that term today.

The voices that encourage Figueras's comment are encouraging the erosion of the institution. The Brits already have people who debate political and social issues, and they have people with the power to push the envelope and change the world. Those people are democratically elected. Harry was born a prince. He fell in love with Meghan, and he didn't have to ask the public's permission to marry her and make her a Princess of the United Kingdom. The reason that in 2018 he gets to be who he is, hold a title, live in palaces, enjoy the protection of constant security, command prestige and a world platform for his charitable causes, is that his job description has some very important limitations. Some of those limitations are that Harry and Meghan don't get to do and say whatever they want. They don't get to be mavericks. They don't get to shake up the status quo. 

I am still not sure if the Sussexes fully understand all this. I hope that Harry and Meghan know better than to be encouraged by the good (but misguided) intentions of friends. I remember that Meghan expressed a desire to change the world in her engagement interview. It worried me then, but I believe in giving people not just a first chance, but several first chances. Anything Meghan said or did, or frankly mistakes she makes for the first year, are subject to a generous learning curve. I thought her "change the world" comment was ill-chosen, but she is idealistic and she is high on love. I can give her some time to learn the ropes and accept some of the strictures of the world into which she has married. Harry, however, has been living the reality of royalty for over thirty years, and as charming and fun as he is, I also think he has a bit of a blind spot for some of the harsher realities. 

Harry, and now Meghan, are not independent operators. They are essentially public servants whose first duty is to support Her Majesty the Queen and the broader institution. The British royals hold an incredible position in a modern world where democracy is the trend. They are born into lives of privilege and influence, and they maintain that place because they do not wade into issues that cause controversy. 

In many respects, we are in a golden age of royal popularity. That might make us forget that this has not always been the case, and it is not guaranteed to last. Charles and Diana's toxic marital meltdown almost destroyed the monarchy in Britain a mere two decades or so years ago. The monarchy recovered in the years that followed Diana's tragic death, and the public invested emotionally in her two sons as they came to maturity. But if they start paddling into waters that are politically or socially charged, start throwing their weight around in areas of debate where people vigorously disagree, that's when the bulldozer of modern democracy will level the ancient institution of the monarchy. The British Monarchy has weathered close to a millennium of human history! Don't push the envelope and end up changing the world by eliminating a wonderful institution.

Long may they reign...impartial, apolitical, and beloved by all.

Happy Birthday Photo of Prince George

Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Palace has released a new picture of George to mark his 5th birthday. It shows the little prince smiling from ear to ear at Clarence House. As we suspected, this bright shot was taken by Mark Porteous during the christening party for Prince Louis. Those eyes are all Middleton, aren't they? :)

The stories around this 5th birthday are focusing on the heir's personality. George went from a very unimpressed, but confident toddler and preschooler (waving with both hands to the cameras in Canada!)... a shy, toe-tapping kindergartener:

I don't think this is a change that goes all that deep in the little guy's personality. I think it is quite clear that George, while shy around the clicking cameras and media attention, is just fine in the privacy of his family setting.

Several birthday specials have reinforced that George is bright and bubbly behind palace doors. Vanity Fair reported:
“George is very aware that he is a prince and that he is different to his peers, and I don’t think he likes the cameras, but William and Kate are doing their best to ensure he has a lovely, normal childhood,” said a family friend. “George needs more coaxing to smile in public because he is quite shy. There’s a lot of William in him.”
That last point is probably right on the mark. George does seem to be a lot of William, and will likely always be more reserved, particularly as he grows and wrestles with the parameters of his life and his role. But just like William has matured into a very self-possessed, funny and compelling man, I am sure the natural self-confidence we witnessed in George will reassert itself in public in the years to come. A little more from the Vanity Fair piece:
Nonetheless, a mother at Thomas’s Battersea says that George is popular in his class. “He’s a lovely boy and is really sweet. He’s very social and makes friends very easily and he’s well-liked.”
The Mail report details the love and hands-on attention William and Kate lavish on their kids, including the fact that Kate did the school run the morning after giving birth to Louis! 
The couple have made a point of doing the school run themselves as much as possible. Indeed, Kate was seen dropping off her son the morning after she gave birth to her third child, Prince Louis.
And when the parents of children in the reception class held a ‘get to know you’ coffee morning, William turned up unannounced, dressed down in chinos, jumper and wearing his glasses. 
George's stable and loving family life will stand him in good stead as he moves forward in his formative years. Certainly today's birthday photo shows a happy, healthy little man. Happy Birthday to a very sweet little prince.