Somewhere in Aberdeenshire lives a sad Shetland pony. Dubbed Lance Corporal Cruachan IV, the diminutive horse usually finds itself in the spotlight once a year, an all-too-short chance to bask in the world’s media interest, during which it occasionally tries to pinch the queen or eat her bouquet.
As the mascot of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, Cruachan IV usually plays a major role at this time of year in the ceremonial reception of Her Majesty’s Regiment at her Balmoral Estate, a traditional bagpipe ride and many big smiles that marks the official start of the Sovereign’s summer holiday.
But this year, both Cruachan IV and the queen, so to speak, were kept in the barracks.
This week it was reported that “for reasons of comfort” the welcoming ceremony was held privately, but this is just the latest sign that the sovereign’s advanced age and ongoing health problems are creating an increasingly blatant impediment to the usual schedule.
The news that Her Majesty won’t be enjoying her annual face-to-face meeting with Cruachan IV only rounds off what has been a slightly rotten start to her holiday; a holiday that is already close to failure thanks to the machinations of Downing Street and her wayward family.
Just at the end of the Queen’s summer vacation last year, just 12 months or so ago, Buckingham Palace was busy advertising that a busy fall schedule of dozens and dozens of events was planned. The message was clear: The Queen is fighting in good shape and ready to become the Queen with impressive vigor and vigor! Trips to Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland have been planned ahead of her big anniversary year!
This ambitious plan then collided with the reality of a woman rapidly approaching her centenary, and we’ve had one cancellation after another since October 2021 as the miniature monarchy has increasingly fallen out of the public eye.
We didn’t see her in Scotland at Cop26, at the Memorial Day Cenotaph, at Commonwealth Day, at Easter, at the State Opening of Parliament, or at the thanksgiving service for her reign during her own platinum jubilee.
The news that Her Majesty would not stand up to the bouquet-munching Cruachan IV only confirmed that things were changing for the once restless monarch, and quickly.
However, we are talking about the Queen, a woman whose family has only in the past few years faced allegations of sexual abuse, racism, receiving millions of dollars from Osama bin Laden’s controversial Middle Eastern politician and brothers, and being “totally ignored.”
The dark cloud over her vacation is that in the coming months, Buckingham Palace will face all of these specific fires that will revert to full flame status.
It’s hard to think of a worse headline for any brand or business than one that links them to the bin Laden family, but here we give thanks to Prince Charles and his seeming willingness to accept vast sums of money for his Prince’s Trust charitable foundation from any roving billionaire.
It was reported in July that the prince accepted $1.7 million in cash from two bin Laden siblings, a shocking revelation that came just weeks after The Times also reported that he had accepted $1.7 million in cash in plastic bags for purchases from a controversial Qatari politician.
Meanwhile, his former valet-turned-head of the charity, Michael Fawcett, is still waiting to be questioned by the Scotland Yard Special Investigation Team following allegations of a money-for-honours scheme at Clarence House last year.
Interestingly, the Prince of Wales largely withstood these damaging reports and came out with only a small reputational blemish, and the shocking claims didn’t really generate any public outcry.
The same most likely won’t be true when Prince Harry, a TV newbie and podcast creator who hasn’t actually created anything yet, releases his memoir later this year.
If even a small percentage of the speculation about what he can uncover and what dirt he can spit is true, this book will be the most devastating royal release in 30 years, and since Diana, Princess of Wales, began whispering in Andrew Morton’s ear.
Given that we are talking about Harry, the man who took to the world’s television screens with his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex to accuse the Firm of racism and neglect at a time when thousands of people were dying a day from Covid, and while its 99-. year old grandpa ended up in the hospital – does anyone really think all we’re going to get is feel-good reading? A few hundred pages of smug bleating and a random smoothie recipe?
In the recently released film by Tom Bauer Revenge: Meghan, Harry and the War Between the Windsors he casts a particularly grim air.
He writes: “Most Britons could not understand Harry’s hostility towards his country and family. His disloyalty to his grandmother was especially mysterious.
“No one realized how much his hostility increased during conversations with John Mehringer, the author of his memoirs. To secure huge sales and offset the huge advance, the publishers encouraged Harry to criticize his family in the harshest terms. Easily succumbing to persuasion, Harry was ready to betray his father, Camilla, the Cambridge family and even the Queen. And so, the deed was done. To earn a publisher’s advance, nothing and no one was untouchable.”
Or, to paraphrase Macbeth, another disgruntled figure in royal circles, something very dangerous is happening along the way…
At this stage, all indications are that Harry’s book could potentially be the most painful chapter in Megzit’s long and sad story.
In addition, there is another book, or at least the possibility of a book, that should be a very serious cause for Her Majesty’s concern. Six months ago, her son Prince Andrew settled a civil sexual harassment case brought against him by Virginia Giuffre with a payout that was reported at the time to be around $21 million. (The royal family has always vehemently denied Ms Giuffre’s claims that he raped her three times when she was a teenager.)
This week Sun reported that the figure was allegedly much lower – somewhere between $5.1 million and $8.6 million – and that “this was the amount that the disgraced duke could quickly scrape together to stop his civil suit.”
According to the report, the “cut price deal” could explain why mother-of-three Giuffre didn’t sign a non-disclosure agreement, meaning she can write her own revelation any time she wants.
The fact that this chapter, the most heinous and horrific in modern royal history, could explode into the headlines again at any moment should be of very serious concern.
All Andrew ever did to try to deal with this situation was to give a horrendous TV interview, show an endearing lack of compassion or empathy for anyone but himself, make a couple of statements, and write a seven-figure check. If anyone thinks that this is an adequate response anyway and has drawn a line under his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, or that the public is ready to move on, then they are wrong.
The 62-year-old is still and probably always will be despised by most of the world, and the appetite for seeing him embarrassed or raked is not likely to wane anytime soon. Think 101 book publishers with a dollar sign in their eyes.
Likewise, Ms. Giuffre showed a steely streak and unwavering commitment to telling the horrors she endured during her time with Epstein. There is no reason to believe that she will suddenly back down or shut up now, which leaves us with the very real possibility that at some point she may release her own book.
Even if all these worries weren’t enough to ruin the Queen’s holiday, there is a fact that she will have to cut her break short thanks to the fact that the UK will get a new prime minister next month. On September 6, Boris Johnson will officially retire. daily mail announced that Her Majesty would “cut short” her vacation to return to London, where she would “invite” the winner of the Conservative Party vote in a bizarre nomenclature to form a government.
The source said this Mail: “Her Majesty does not expect the new Prime Minister to go to Scotland, so it is planned that the Queen will go to them.”
So much for a royal break, huh?
Balmoral is considered Her Majesty’s favorite home, where she loved long walks and got out into nature, but in recent years her stay there has been overshadowed by a series of crises. In August 2019, Harry and Meghan skipped a family vacation to fly around Europe on private jets and then committed Epstein’s suicide. In 2020, the pandemic was in full swing and she and Philippe were dabbling inside HMS Bubble, and last year the monarch experienced her first summer without her 73-year-old husband.
The poor thing must be so tired. Not only is she still working, more than three decades after most people have retired, but her family is a source of endless scandal and tension, and things only look like they’re only going to grow.
If you ask me if that’s not the case, then right now Her Majesty doesn’t need another rainy week tottering through the swamps and ruminating about how it all went wrong, but she needs to rally her lady-in-waiting for over 60 years, Lady Susan. Hussies and elope to spend a 72-hour all-inclusive weekend with the girls in Malaga.
Sun, sand, sangria and not having to think about all the brewing Windsor scandals? This is a real holiday.
Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with over 15 years of experience working with a range of leading Australian media outlets.