A week before Christmas, two seemingly completely different pieces of news appeared in the British press. The first dominated the headlines: British nurses went on an unprecedented strike at a time when they were forced to turn to food banks and use “warm banks” – places where people who can’t afford heating can go.
The second, barely noticeable, was the annual summing up of the statistics of the work of the royal family.
First place, quelle surprise, went to Princess Anne with 214 engagements, a woman who seems to be able to quickly open a plaque before most people even think of a toast in the morning. (I bet she’s a bran woman, myself.)
What worries us is the number that Kate, Princess of Wales managed to hit – an unimpressive 90.
Dwarfing that number is the late Queen, who, despite battling cancer and related mobility issues in her senior year, scored 151.
Hell, even the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester (aged 78 and 76 respectively) did better than Kate, with scores of 100 and 94.
Do you hear that ringing sound? This is the ghost of Kate’s past. (Oh my God, not cork wedges, no!)
When the Party Pieces photographer went from photographing Peppa Pig’s birthday plates to starting a slow but inexorable path to the throne in 2011, she and her husband Prince William were soon dogged by accusations of being a “worker” for years.
Would it come as a surprise if I told you that it wasn’t until 2017, after six years of marriage, that the couple began full-time royal duties?
This is because after they got married, Queen Elizabeth gave them permission not to immediately take on the official royal load. It was a pretty sound idea to give the new duchess time to get back on her feet and acclimatize to her Royal Highness, rather than, like before, tossing the new Windsor wife into the deep end and waiting to see if she drowned or not. to swim. (Something like a modern witch trial in bare stockings.)
So they lived in Anglesey, Wales, where William worked as an RAF search and rescue helicopter pilot. and Kate did God knows what, from time to time fulfilling the duties of a duchess.
However, even after Kate became far more ubiquitous on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, Philip Tracy’s one-woman marketing campaign, the numbers hardly reflect a royal who really tampered with the steering wheel.
Sure, she’s had three pregnancies, all plagued by truly horrendous gestational hyperemesis, and then three maternity leave, but still, even in the years that she didn’t get pregnant and swaddle HRH’s whining newborns, she hardly made peace. in terms of the amount of royal work she did.
This is far from the problem that just worried about Kate.
For example, in 2015, when it was revealed that the then 95-year-old Duke of Edinburgh held 250 official events. Younger generation? William, Kate and Prince Harry scored just 198 points combined.
This image of the then Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as underwhelmed by the joyful, charming part of the royal concert only took root even deeper.
In 2015, the BAFTA Nominees Party was held at Kensington Palace. Was the president of the high society of cinema, William or Kate, even though the party was taking place where they lived? While aides said he had a “prior commitment”, a source told Vanity Fair: “There were a few remarks about the fact that William, in particular, was not at the awards ceremony. Not that he was too busy: he had just returned from a two-week vacation in Mustique, and the party was in his palace!”
That same year, the family moved from Wales to Anmer Hall in Norfolk, a 10-bedroom country house given to them by the late Queen (of course, better than a hastily wrapped candle as a press). There, William began working as an air ambulance pilot.
However, in 2016, it was revealed that the prince only worked 20 hours a week for that concert, according to a source. The sun in the same year: “He hardly ever works a shift… with the Duke, it’s more of a day off than a work day. He had at least four weeks of holiday at Christmas, which should be completed in the same way as regular weeks.
Speaking to The sun at the time, a royal source said: “They said at Sandringham at Christmas that he didn’t do anything. He wanted to move to Norfolk to give him the life of a rural farmer gentleman, like his friends. Everything is arranged – his job as a pilot, his duties, his home – so he can do it.
“Shooting, fishing, house parties on the weekends and a very private life away from the cameras with the family is par for the course.
“All his friends live the country lifestyle and now he does too.”
In the same year, he was again heavily criticized in the British press for waiting six weeks a year before taking on one official duty.
While daily mail Amanda Platell called him “the most stubborn and aggressive of the royals”. Mirror asked, “What’s the point of a hard-working Prince William?” At some point The sun was the headline: “Throne Idle”.
Clearly not a man willing to pay much attention to what Fleet Street has to say, after that scandal he managed to arrange two more engagements before he and Kate took a break in the French Alps for an obviously much needed rest.
So did William or Kate learn?
Fast forward to Commonwealth Day 2017 when the royal family gathered at Westminster Abbey. The prince was not there, instead attending a party in Verbier during which he was caught dancing with an Australian blonde in a nightclub while Kate was believed to be at home.
Among all this, it should be noted that public money worth about $7.3 million in the form of a sovereign grant was used to renovate a four-story “apartment” (all 22 main rooms) owned by the family in Kensington Palace. which was mostly empty.
(Also, if Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were guilty of even one of these wrongdoings or errors, there would be so many saliva-splattered and outraged columns that Britain would immediately run out of paper, and such would be the fury on Twitter , their servers would burn.)
Now, in July 2017, an announcement has been made – the duo have finally succumbed to fate and will move to London to take on permanent royal roles.
Since then, the picture has changed dramatically.
Over the past five years, the couple have taken on new patronages and created legacy-defining projects that create generational change in the form of the Earthshot Prize and the Early Years Foundation.
They are also increasingly being pushed onto the global stage and the pair made no mistake on their toughest tour to date, heading to Pakistan in 2019. Even this month, US President Joe Biden took the time to meet with the prince when both were in Boston.
The duo have managed to create a whole new reputation for being tough and driven, dedicated to their cause and the organizations they work with, and ready to discover new working royal lands. For example, in 2019 they filmed a Christmas special with beloved British chef Mary Berry at the Apple Store. Time to go series, the prince spoke about his mental health, and Kate spoke about the problems of motherhood on Happy mom, happy baby podcast.
That commitment turned into quite enthusiastic polls, with William and Kate coming in first and second as the most popular members of the royal family in the rankings. YouGov Poll as of this month.
Gone was the image of them as an idle duo, more interested in rustling Pimms’ pitcher to share with Bunter and Araminta after a devastating game of tennis; now they seem like a couple curled up in bed at night reading his and her UN reports, holding identical markers.
But numbers like December’s working stats pose a threat to that hard-won image, especially at the moment. The UK is experiencing a once-in-a-generation cost-of-living crisis. As the population struggles to simply pay their bills, the royals simply cannot afford even a hint that they are not working properly.
They need to earn all these millions of sovereign grants before the masses have a desire to put all the Robespierres on them. (Especially when you consider that, by my calculations, William and Kate currently make as much money in 12 hours courtesy of the Duchy of Cornwall as a British nurse earns in a whole year.)
Against this political, social and PR background, even a hint of the return of a terrible label for the letter “g” – workhy – is a really dangerous thing.
And if the Welsh really want to at least get a taste of the hard work that millions of Brits do every day, I bet there are quite a few hospitals or food banks that are in desperate need of help right now.
Daniela Elser is a writer and royal commentator with over 15 years of experience working with a range of leading Australian media outlets.
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