This afternoon, Prince William wrapped up what was a very successful two-day trip to Malta. When Kate was forced to pull-out, everyone expected William to go in her stead, and indeed there is no other royal with the requisite star power to stand in for the duchess.
As many probably remember, (personally or from the study of history) Diana far eclipsed Charles in popularity, which while not the cause of their marriage's disintegration, certainly did not help matters. Kate is clearly massively popular and seems to draw a very dedicated fan base, (hey, all y'all) at the same time, though, William remains such a popular royal. It is a mistake to apply the Wales dynamic to the Cambridges. They are a far more balanced couple and this trip is proof of that reality. Everyone was disappointed that Kate didn't come, but everyone was also so very excited to see her handsome prince.
Royal watchers were interested, although certainly not surprised, to see that Rebecca Deacon was in Malta with William. As the decision was put off to the very last minute, the entire tour had been planned for Kate and obviously Ms. Deacon was entirely informed on every detail. It only highlighted the last minute nature of the change, but also how flawlessly the royal household was able to accommodate the change. The plans were not altered by a Duke rather than his Duchess flying to Malta, and of course, thanks Rebecca worked closely with William before his engagement to Kate, so it was old-home week all around.
It was a weekend with a debut, as well: William attended his first public Mass this morning in Valletta at St. John's Co-Cathedral. The Cathedral is widely considered one of the finest examples of baroque architecture in Europe and houses a stunning Caravaggio. Aides remarked that although William may have been to a private requiem, it was his first public Catholic ceremony.
There has been a certain ennui with William's wardrobe, so excitement was high when he debuted his Frenchman pants earlier this year. Women being the fickle creatures that we are (that's a blessing, by the way) need more variety in fashion, but it seems that men do not. Day 2 saw the Frenchman pants return with a vengeance. Someone needs to tell him these come in a variety of colors...In any case, these really could be just a tad more fitted, and a little darker. Right now it requires a double take to ascertain that they are indeed his Frenchboy pants and not just a pair of faded jeans. Kate, this is your department.
I still very firmly believe that the long hesitation in announcing Kate's decision on Malta speaks to her continuing recovery. William is always the thoughtful gentleman and the disappointment that was inevitable after the Duchess's withdrawal was often the subject of his remarks. He told fans on a Saturday walkabout that Kate was "feeling so-so" and that it was up and down at the moment, and at a garden party today he said that he had spoken to her on the phone this morning and that she was feeling "a little bit better." People reported William's remark:
He was very happy to be here. William told me that Catherine was sad to have missed the trip, but we both agreed that the hot weather would have been too much for her. I asked how she was doing and he said he spoke to her this morning and she was feeling a little better.
So, I think that we can very safely assume that she will be feeling markedly better in the relatively near future and we may even see her add an engagement to the calendar before long. I suspect she could be back on the job by mid-October.
William gave fans a quick update on George as well, saying that the baby prince was "very busy" and that "they are very hectic at that age." I can just imagine what a rambunctious tot he must be, as every sighting of him as indicated quite an independent spirit. I am sure he is darling.
William read a statement from the Queen, who has many happy memories of Malta. Between 1949 and 1951 then Princess Elizabeth lived intermittently in Malta with Prince Philip who was serving in the Royal Navy at the time. Prince Charles and Princess Anne remained in Britain. William said he had just been asking her about her time in Malta last week...possibly while he visited her in Scotland as they anxiously awaited Scotland's vote for independence or unity. This trip to Malta was, after all, commemorating Malta's break from the UK. William read a message from the Queen:
We have such fond memories of your country at different stages of our lives," it read. "First as a young married couple when we lived in Malta, and then again when we returned at the time of our 60th wedding anniversary in 2007. Prince Philip and I are grateful to the people of Malta for always making us, and our family, feel so welcome."
It is a shame that Kate was unable to come, since the beautiful, warm island would have been right up her alley. Hopefully, we will get a chance to see her visit in the future. In any event,w e know what Kate is doing right this second. She is curled up on her couch--hopefully George is in bed--she has some tea and something to settle her stomach and she is watching the season premiere of Downton Abbey! Oh September, you truly are the most wonderful time of the year.