Any grandmother would be generous on her grandson’s 40th birthday, but the queen’s every move is surrounded by landmines.
The Duke of Cambridge turned 40 this week, and how much the Queen singled out her grandson could really ruffle some royal feathers.
What to give the future king for his birthday? A small island off Nova Scotia? Faberge egg next to his Xbox? A half stake in his favorite football team, Aston Villa?
Her Majesty could probably have singled out one of her Faberge pieces or found an extra piece of the Commonwealth to slip on her grandson, instead she went an even more economical way.
It was her funny press release that would require a small army of lackeys to descend into the cellars and retrieve case after case of Bollinger and Paul Roger, the queen’s favorite sparkling drinks.
Mirror reported that the 96-year-old had proposed hosting a joint birthday party for William and his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge (who turned 40 in January) at Windsor Castle or Sandringham in the coming months.
Royal kitchens are probably already getting a head start in the battalion of quiches and venison rolls they’ll need for the turnip toffee crowd.
Then came William’s real birthday on Tuesday, with Buckingham Palace celebrating the big day by posting a few congratulations on social media. However, what made this post different this year was the apparent change in course of the Palace, sharing a Twitter thread that was a pretty crude marketing exercise by William as the future king.
Even for a man who will someday sit on the throne, these two palace moves represent an intensification of William’s treatment of the golden boy. And therein lies the rub.
First, it’s a party. While Her Majesty, just a few years short of her age, may not be up to knocking bubbles until midnight and enjoying spinning on the dance floor to Bobby Daran, over the years she has proven herself to be an enthusiastic hostess.
In 1990, she hosted the famous Dance of the Decades at Windsor Castle to celebrate the Queen Mother’s 90th birthday, Princess Margaret’s 60th, Princess Anne’s 40th and Prince Andrew’s 30th.
(Let’s not mention that in 2006, Windsor Castle was the site of Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday celebration, and Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell and Harvey Weinstein were on the guest list.)
William and his cousins Zara Tindall and Peter Phillip were part of the 21st birthday parties at Windsor.
However, by highlighting William and Kate with that proper royal knee up, the queen could potentially knock out a few noses.
As far as is known, she did not make similar proposals to her other grandchildren, who are already over 40.
What seems clear is that Her Majesty’s generosity here reflects the high regard she clearly holds for the Cambridges. They have been very good Royal Highnesses in the past few years, proving that they are not only diligent monarchist foot soldiers, but also have a clear idea of what it will take to keep the royal house alive in the coming decades.
This includes major projects focusing on the most pressing issues like climate change and mental health, rather than scattered charity visits involving wooden speeches and handshakes.
William and Kate smiled, had children, and generally avoided creating any scandals of their own. This holiday is very much like a reward for all this good work; Gold star to end all gold stars.
But how will this boon play out in other royal chambers?
William and Kate’s fate to end up on thrones, stamps and limited edition coins is quite obviously different from their cousins, most of whom have jobs, mortgages and don’t have to schedule time for portraits. meetings.
Injustice – the fact that some descendants of the Windsors are treated quite differently than others – is built into royal life, but that doesn’t mean that seeing it on a large scale can’t be annoying or irritating.
The Queen has six adult grandchildren in addition to William. How must they feel seeing her party’s bounty extend so far?
Then there’s William of Buckingham Palace’s Twitter posts, postmodern idolatry at its finest.
Happy birthday greetings on social media from all members of the royal family — Buckingham Palace, Prince Charles and Camlla, the Duchess of Cornwall’s Clarence House and Cambridge’s Kensington Palace outfit — usually follow a standard format.
Pictures of the birthday boy or girl and one or two pictures of them with the director(s) of that house. The palace as a whole adhered to this formula.
In 2021, for his 39th birthday, we received a series of images depicting William the Soldier, William the Father and William the Eminent Benefactor.
In 2020, the Palace shared one image of the Queen and William smiling together.
In 2019, we received a collage of images of the Prince, some of which showed him with The Chief Lady.
Did someone just teach a Corgi how to use Adobe?
You get drift.
But this year? A lengthy Twitter thread that, after the usual well wishes, read “As the second in line to the throne turns 40, find out more about His Royal Highness” and then went on to talk about his key accomplishments such as being born, getting mediocre geography. degree, graduating from Sandhurst and becoming an air ambulance pilot.
It all ended on a grand scale, plugging into his current royal gig – trying to change the world in between wielding a sword for investment.
All this was part of the resume, part of the LinkedIn profile and all social networks. Translation: It was Buckingham Palace’s transition into hype mode, a decidedly more insistent attempt than we’ve seen before on his birthdays to really get the message out to the people that William is a future sovereign.
Someone obviously read all about brand strategy.
Again, this move carries the risk of upsetting the various competing egos that make up the royal family.
Charles and Camilla are in Rwanda this week for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), the first royal visit to a country previously torn by war. On Wednesday, the couple visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial and then Nyamata Church, where 10,000 Tutsis were killed in just two days in unspeakable violence.
The Prince of Wales’ sensitivity to his son’s popularity eclipsing his own and William’s royal work eclipsing his own was widely reported. Too much focus on how crushing King William will be, and too much exaggeration of his future reign, can upset the delicate balance of princely egos.
When Charles turned that milestone birthday, his young sons presented him with a pin that read “Life Begins at 40”. We hope the best for William and Kate is yet to come – the monarchy may depend on it.
Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with over 15 years of experience working with a range of leading Australian media outlets.