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Is Charles' Press Office Consolidation Focused on Rebranding the Cambridges

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Prince of Wales with Kate and William in December of 2011
Allpix/Splash News

Thursday marked 1,000 days as a Duchess for Kate Cambridge. I immediately thought of that movie, Anne of the 1,000 Days, about Anne Boleyn's short and ill-fated reign as Henry VIII's 2nd queen. Dark, I know. Certainly not a good comparison to our Duchess who is happily married and has produced a male heir. Eeck. Today is actually the anniversary of Anne and Henry's marriage, too, but enough with distant history.

Already making waves this week, is the news that Prince Charles is merging his press office with the Queen's at Buckingham Palace, signaling what many claim is further proof Her Majesty is making way for Charles. This isn't all that exciting. After all, everyone knows that the Queen must begin to slow down given her age, and naturally Charles will step up his game to aid his mother. No one thinks the Queen will ever step down for him unless she goes entirely batty and that doesn't seem to be likely. 

Far more interesting is that the younger royals will also be consolidated into the same press office. The Daily Beast is claiming this is a move on the part of Charles to hold the reigns of control a little tighter as he attempts to shift the focus from frivolous things like fashion and personal lives, to the more weighty topics that he wants the royals to be highlighting. 

The Six Senior Members of the BRF.
Mirrorpix/Splash News

Obviously, it is hard to say for certain what all the reasons for this consolidation are, or what is going through his head.  It has been reported over the years that Charles worries about the viability of the monarchy in the modern age and he believes that to survive, it must be pared down. It was rumored, although not confirmed, that Prince Andrew and Prince Charles argued about this topic when Charles wanted the York girls to search for real world careers rather than expect to take on duties as working members of the royal family. Since that time, it has been a bit 50/50. Beatrice and Eugenie both appear to be working on finding their place in regular career paths, but they also have undertaken public engagements when they can. Whether this is because the initial rumors are untrue or because Andrew is a pretty forceful individual when he wants his way is not entirely apparent. Frankly, my money is on Andrew pushing for his way. Remember, at the root, this is still a family like any other. Charles is just Andrew's older brother, but from his perspective I am sure he wants his girls to have a greater role than Charles is willing to allow. That being said, the cards are stacked against Andrew and any royal not in direct succession, because ultimately, Charles is right. The monarchy has to keep the focus on the relevant. The energy and resources need to be directed toward the members of the royal family who keep the brand fresh and exciting, and those are the members of the family closest to the throne. Indeed, when the Queen celebrated her Diamond Jubilee in 2012, only the 6 most senior royals were present on the balcony appearance. Those royals were the Queen, (the DoE, was absent for health reasons) Charles and Camilla, William and Kate, and Prince Harry. 

If Charles is attempting to continue this consolidation of power to highlight and stress which members of the royal family are more royal than others, it isn't an entirely unwise move. If he is hoping to quash the royal-mania over Kate, William, and the new Cambridge family, and the interest in the Middletons, or indeed the whole industry of royal watchers drawn in by Kate's ever increasing fame, he is making quite a large mistake. I hope that he is savvy enough to see that Kate makes the monarchy cool and this mania that has swept the globe, although not directly focused on the causes he may want to remain front and center, does generate a certain spinoff of interest in those causes that would otherwise not exist at all. Better to take what you can get. Remember, Charles, never look a gift horse in the mouth... If his aim is refocus attention to drier topics, his attempts will be futile, no one is going to tire of this any time soon:

Royals Flirting? Kate and William at Vernon Park in June 2012
Steve Finn/Splash News

Thankfully for Charles and the monarchy, our interest can only strengthen the family firm.

Cambridge Incorporated

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Splash News
Kate Middleton Returns to St. Andrews with Fiancé Prince William
When Kate isn't seen for a protracted period, that is always the time when the ingenuity and creativity of royal bloggers and reporters are put to the test. Some efforts are more successful than others. The Daily Mail "broke" a 60/40 today.  60% was interesting and 40% we already knew. That is actually a pretty solid split, so major kudos. The news that the Cambridges incorporated their brand didn't make a significant splash while royal news was busy, but now that we have almost nothing to talk about, and the Mail adds some fun details, we are all ears.

James Whatling/Splash News
The Countess of Strathearn in Scotland for the Order of the Thistle Installation Service

So much more fun than the initial news blurb, the Mail reported the names the two chose for their companies! Kate's company in charge of protecting her brand is CE Strathearn. Guess the CE? Catherine Elizabeth. Strathearn is obviously her Scottish title. I wonder why she picked this? I think they both chose names that had some personal meaning. My bet is that Kate has a very soft spot for Scotland. After all, she is the Countess of Strathearn because she met William at University of St. Andrews. They fell in love in Scotland, vacationed in seclusion at the Queen's Scottish estate, and returned to St. Andrew's as part of their engagement tour. So, in many ways, Scotland was the start of their romance, and the start of her life as she knows it today. Solid choice. 

University of St. Andrews/Splash News

William picked APL Anglesey, Arthur Philip Louis. An interesting insight into these two. I can see them relaxed on the couch coming up with their names. William's particularly highlights how happy he must have been throughout his Anglesey years with Kate, living what was probably the most normal lifestyle he has or will experience. And of course, it was in Anglesey that William and Kate started their marriage with such joy:

William and fiancée Kate Middleton in Anglesey, Wales
Splash News
Also, surfacing today was a great interview in the Telegraph with Mario Testino where he discussed his work with Diana, Princess of Wales, and also photographing William and Kate. 
When, in 2008, Kensington Palace asked him to put on a show of Diana photographs, he invited the Princes. “I approached them without knowing them, because I felt that they had to give me their blessing for an enterprise like this. I myself am so close to my mum, I felt I couldn’t do anything about their mother without their approval. They came to view the rooms with Kate [Middleton] and Chelsy [Davy, Prince Harry’s former girlfriend].”...The Duke of Cambridge “is more like his mother, there’s a kindness and a gentleness there that instantly wins you over”. He was, Testino felt, completely “in love with Kate. I knew they would stay together”.
Testino had solid relationship radar, because the two obviously were in for keeps. (Side note: As absolutely beautiful as Cressida is, I still miss Chelsy.)  Of course, we all know that Testino was asked to take William and Kate's engagement photos, which were superb. Again I wonder, did William ask Testino because of his iconic work with Diana? Although, the couple chose another (royally connected) photographer to take their wedding day snaps, for this more intimate occasion, Testino's talent was perfectly suited.
“I waited a long time, an hour or two, to make that picture perfect. But I wasn’t totally satisfied. Then, when I’d finished the shoot, they were about to leave and they suddenly hugged in front of a radiator. I took my camera and that was the picture that ran everywhere — it was spontaneous emotion … you could see they were completely in love.”
I thought his final comment about Kate was quite right.
Does the Duchess of Cambridge remind him of Diana? He shakes his head: “Kate, she is beautiful in a different way: she radiates happiness. She is comfortable in her love.”

So, what are William and Kate up to? William is still trucking along at Cambridge University. We are fast galloping up on the Middleton family holiday in Mustique, which usually takes place the last week of January and/or the first week of February or so. The big question is, will Kate go? I can't imagine William can slip away from a program designed for him that only lasts ten weeks. So, assuming he can't make it, will Kate take George on his first tropical holiday without Dad? I would die if I were Kate and had to miss this holiday. My gosh, everyone wants to be somewhere warm and sunny right now. It would be good practice for George before flying Down Under in just a few more months, too. My money is that Kate will go. We shall see...

Kate Celebrates Birthday With Quiet Dinner Party

Thursday, January 9, 2014

I woke up this morning to find that it was snowing...again. We are already covered, and it appears that mother nature isn't planning to let up yet. I was a little irritated, snow is all well and good at first, but after a while it gets old planning every day's outfit around the same pair of snow appropriate boots. Still, there are worse problems, like needing to get to the hospital with snow covering the roads. I am sure my feelings were nothing compared to Carole Middleton's 32 years ago today when her part of England was experiencing a "Polar Vortex" of its own. Katie Nicholl recounts in her book, Kate, that one of Carole's friends remembered Carole Middleton was concerned she wouldn't make it to the hospital because of the heavy snow fall. Her doctor even assured her he would send an air ambulance that could land in the field next to her house if it came to that. Thankfully, she made it to the hospital, everything went smoothly, and here we are 32 years later celebrating the day a future princess was born into obscurity in Berkshire. Isn't that part of why we love Kate? :) Now we have calendars that mark her birthday...

Late last night and a little this morning, I sifted through Twitter and Instagram using hashtags #katemiddleton, #duchessofcambridge, and #happybirthdaykate to see the various outpourings of excitement and good wishes for Kate's birthday today. It was awesome to see so many normal (aka, not accounts dedicated to Kate and the royals) Twitter feeds and Instragram accounts that took a quick break to throw a shout out to the Duchess of Cambridge. It struck me again that the Kate-mania that fuels the magazines sold, royal documentaries watched, YouTubed videos uploaded, blog readers, and blog writers, etc are all real people touched by this lovely woman.  Her perfect execution of her duties and her impeccable sense of style really do inspire us all. Through her fashion, her philanthropy, and her family, Kate touches people all over the world.

We have William to thank for bringing Kate into the spotlight. Speaking of her handsome prince, he was spotted leaving Cambridge (where he has already begun his 10-week course) and hopping a train back to London to be home in time for dinner. He was wearing our absolute favorite trainers... Kate spent her birthday today at KP and it is reported to have held a quiet party with friends this evening. I am sure that George was excited to play with the wrapping paper from his mum's presents!

Happy Birthday Kate! We all love you! 

Carole Middleton Looking as Beautiful as a Bond Girl Shopping in Chelsea

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Mama Middleton was out and about in Chelsea. If I have said it once, I have said it a million times. I love this woman. May we all be so awesome at whatever extremely young age she is. She is wearing some pretty loud stockings. I am 100% against fishnets. These are not fishnets, but they are...bold. Very bold. But, if there is anyone who can pull them off it is Mama Middleton. I will tell you one thing, I covet her booties. WOW! Can we see those on Kate, too please? This is what I mean about Carole. When do you look at a 60 year old and want to follow her fashion lead? For me, this does not happen often, but when Carole struts down the street, she sends me running for the department store. 

Carole also wore this ensemble to the St. Luke's Carol Service for the Henry van Strauzenbee Foundation. Remember that? Kate used to go to that in the first week of December. I remember that Kate all but disappeared in 2009. She was living in Anglesey and really almost never surfaced. She popped up at the carol service in chilly London and it was a rare and welcomed appearance!

Kate was again spotted at the service in 2010 shortly after her engagement to William. She looked chilly, but chic in Aquatalia boots. I think she had just discovered Aquatalia, because it was one of the earliest sightings of her in their boots.

Much to my disappointment, Kate has not been to the carol service since. I think it likely that she doesn't want to draw attention away from the cause, but it is tough to wave goodbye to the more down-to-earth days. Still, there are compensations for us now she is royal--hello, Down Under Tour 2014!  Anyway, so Carole attended the Carol service this year and looked awesome:

She looks great.  Love the coat, love the boots. Time to shop. Kate's birthday is tomorrow...don't forget!

Kate Spotted Shopping in Oxfordshire//William Heading Back to School

Sunday, January 5, 2014

It was a quiet New Year for the Cambridges. I thought that we would at least hear they stopped at a petrol station or were spotted here or there, but there was nary a peep. Of course, we didn't really need to guess where they were. They almost always ring the New Year in with Kate's parents and after spending Christmas at Sandringham, they were sure to take George back to spend time during the Christmas season with his grandparents.

Kate was spotted just yesterday at Henley-on-Thames buying antique rugs. Henley-on-Thames is about 20 miles from Bucklebury, not far at all for a Saturday shopping excursion from her parents' house. 

Also making headlines--several days ago--was the news that William will "return to school" at Cambridge where he will study agriculture in a custom designed 10-week program to prepare him for his leadership position in the Duchy of Cornwall. The hackles are up for people who think it is unfair that the royal gets to go to such a prestigious school.  I quote from the Express:
The course is bespoke, but there is anger over his arrival from those who believe his title and not his academic qualifications have earned him a place at the elite university.
They believe his title earned him a place. Hopefully, they didn't have to ponder that one very long before coming to that glaringly obvious conclusion. Let's think, Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge, the son of Diana, Princess of Wales, the heir to British throne, needs a 10-week course on agriculture. Every school in the country would be tripping over their toes to convince this man to choose their institution. No one in their right mind imagines he had to prove rigorous academic merit. Nor is it unreasonable that he should have to. He brings a significant amount of attention and prestige to whatever place he chooses as well as a certain historical privilege. 

Meanwhile, the enterprising editor of one of the school papers, the Tab, has wandered into dangerous waters when he encouraged all students to take snaps of William and tweet them under a common hashtag. In an almost GossipGirl like user generated "Where is Wills" map, the paper would constantly live blog the prince's whereabouts. Unlike Serena van der Woodsen and hapless friends, this royal victim could easily leverage significant legal weight against an open opponent like the Tab. Even the editor is seeing the pitfalls of his plans:
When asked about the campaign, Mr Heilpern played down the risk of the royal being harassed. But after repeated questioning, he conceded the live blog may need to be scrapped...When asked how he would feel if a live blog dedicated to his whereabouts on campus was set up, Mr Heilpern, who is reading Philosophy, said: "I would not be very interesting."
Well, I love his sense of humor.  In any case, the question does arise, what will the Cambridges do as a family over this ten-week period. Although, the Duke will have private accommodations in the university town, it is not clear if he will choose to commute on the week-end or if he will decide to commute every day. I think it would be very hard to miss little George all week long, but we shall see soon enough what William decides to do.

Meanwhile, in the U. S. of A, season 4 of Downton is airing on PBS. It's been a long wait for the Yanks, but well worth it. Fabulous season ahead!