Daniela Elser: Kate Middleton and Prince William’s vacation in Scotland promises to be bleak
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend the closing ceremony of the General Assembly on May 27, 2021 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo / Getty Images
Let’s play a game. If you were rich, you know, private jet pilot, rich to go anywhere in the world, where would you go on vacation?
A secret Caribbean island, by invitation only, known only to Elon Musk and Beyonce? A luxurious resort in the Seychelles with hot and cold pina coladas and a private reef? Lazy cruising around the Greek Islands on a yacht so large it comes with its own vaccination clinic?
The answer, if you are a member of the British Royal Family, is none of the above. Why soak up the sun, drink rum and let the nanny worry about removing sand from Prince George’s practice scepter when you can spend whole weeks in the Scottish countryside?
Right now, the Royal Family are enjoying (although I’m not sure that’s the right adjective) their annual getaway to Balmoral, the Queen’s 50,000-acre estate in Aberdeenshire. (The Queen arrived late last month, and her various relatives come and go during the 12 weeks she will be there.)
On the program, long, brisk walks through the moors, picnics where a prince of the kingdom is left to take care of the barbecue and hours spent standing in icy streams desperately trying to catch salmon.
St Barth, that’s not it.
For William and Kate, the Earl and Countess of Strathearn (as they are called when they are north of the border), their annual pilgrimage to spend time with Gan Gan is a steadfast part of their calendar, like the Chelsea Flower Show. or Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall’s festive Bollinger’n’Bangers evening. (Okay, I just hope the last one is real.)
Without fail, the family of five makes the 900km journey from Kensington Palace to the sprawling and expansive Royal Deeside estate to spend some quality family time and have the chance to pull out their laid-back tartan.
However, this year Kate’s Scottish break is shaping up to be pretty bad.
While fending off midges and Princess Anne lashing out at one with a Monopoly set may seem like hell to some people, for the Windsor house their vacation at Balmoral is a chance to really get away from it all and reconnect. each other. the best way they know: shoot little birds. (Well, at least after Glorious 12, the date that marks the start of the grouse hunting season.)
Nothing says quality bonding time like a pair of Purdey shotguns and hours of testosterone-fueled feathered carnage. (Look away at the PETA supporters, right now!)
And for the Cambridges, their Scottish sabbatical doesn’t just mean gray skies and game after game of charades, but fits into the tiniest house they own.
One of the lesser-known facts about William is that when the Queen Mother died in 2002, she left him her home on the Balmoral Estate, a place called Tam-Na-Ghar. The place is relatively small compared to their Kensington Palace apartment (four floors; 20 bedrooms) and their Norfolk keyhole, Anmer Hall (three floors, 10 bedrooms, and a tennis court).
On the other hand, looking at pictures of Tam-Na-Ghar, it looks more like the kind of Airbnb that a Hobbit enthusiast would rave about rather than the vacation home of a future king, but they still seem there. ‘like. (I know – they’re a strange bunch.)
But this year’s Scottish getaway will be unlike any that William and Kate have taken before. Listen to some dark organ music and maybe some thunderclap sound effects.
On the one hand, this will be the first time the Windsors have reunited in their beloved private estate since Prince Philip’s death in April, casting a sort of veil over the proceedings. It is at Balmoral that Philip and the Queen are generally considered the happiest and most normal.
His absence, for the first time in nearly 75 years, will be keenly felt.
The queen, who arrived at Balmoral at the end of July, is still “in very deep mourning” and “she is also incredibly tired”.
To make matters even darker, for the Royal Family, and Kate and William in particular, this August represents only the briefest of reprieve after five tumultuous and murderous months.
Since early March, when Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, launched their anti-palace media offensive, the monarchy has suffered a disastrous public relations barrage. While in the UK at least their popularity has improved remarkably this year, their ultimate triumph in this fight for survival is by no means certain.
The palace may have made it to the other side of the Sussex blitzkrieg, but they did not come out unscathed.
A poll taken in May shows that young Britons are turning their backs on the monarchy. Just two years ago, in 2019, 46% of 18-24 year olds said they believed the UK should have a monarchy. In 2021, that figure fell to 31%.
Likewise, it appears that the past five months have only been the first round of the transatlantic clash between Sussex and Windsor.
Later this month, an updated version of Sussex’s very sympathetic biography “Finding Freedom” will be released. (At the time of the book’s original publication last year, Harry and Meghan released a statement saying they “had not been interviewed and had not contributed” to the bestseller. In November, Meghan admitted via a statement in a London court in a lawsuit against the Daily Mail, that she aided the perpetrators by allowing a friend to speak on her behalf, but only to correct details about her ex-father.)
The authors of the book, Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, have promised that the new chapters will cover the bullying allegations made against Meghan (she has vigorously denied the allegations), their interview with Oprah and Philip’s death.
“The Oprah interview detonated a bomb beneath the royal family and most of them are still in shock. The book won’t help,” a senior courtier recently told The Times.
If the original “Finding Freedom” is any indication, then the Royal Household may well be about to take another heavy blow and face the prospect of the Megxit drama being choppy again and even more revelations unleashed in it. the public sphere.
It’s not the only upcoming title that could keep Courtiers, Assistants, and Corgis from sleeping at night.
Next year Harry will be releasing his autobiography, saying in a statement he was “excited that people are reading a firsthand account of my life that is accurate and entirely true.”
It seems highly unlikely that his royal relatives will share the same level of “excitement” that the former army captain will become a royal defector putting his chewy Bic on paper and opening the floodgates.
After months and months of publicly criticizing the Royal Family, it seems almost impossible for him to change course now and simply consider producing several hundred pages detailing happy memories of playing charades with his father’s patient valet and the rugby trivia.
Ditto the fact that the $ 27 million advance that publisher Penguin Random House would have paid the sixth to the throne. That sort of figure, if based on facts, would suggest that they have confidence that he will be ready to release the royal family’s dirty laundry to a dumbfounded and paying audience.
For William and Kate, apparently on vacation at the moment, knowing that another attack, potentially even “telling the truth” is imminent, would be enough to make even the hardiest of HRHs consider releasing the branded gin. Buckingham Palace. (Seriously. You can check it out here.)
While things may have calmed down on the Montecito front right now, we’re a long way – FAR – from being able to draw any line under the chaotic chapter that has been Megxit. Neither Philip’s funeral nor Harry’s brief return to the UK for the unveiling of the statue of Diana, Princess of Wales has actually resulted in some kind of bridge-building and rift-mending exercise. The wounds always seem too sharp, on both sides, and the anger and the wounds still too fresh.
Given all of this, how can anyone, let alone a future queen with three young children and an ever-increasing workload, really relax or rejuvenate?
(See, this is where all of those pina coladas would come in handy.)
At least William, Kate, and their offspring got the chance to enjoy an island getaway this year… sort of. As they also did in 2020, it was revealed that in July they had a family holiday on Tresco Island, which is part of the Isles of Scilly off the Cornish coast. Boasting two sets of crumbling ruins, a cricket club and a museum devoted to pieces salvaged from wrecks, the place has it all, if by “everything” you mean lots of old rocks, wide open spaces and the always present threat of blast burns.
With the mercury exceeding a mild 18C at Balmoral this weekend and the countdown to the new “Finding Freedom” outing, we are a long way from Mustique, right now. It’s going to be a long, long time before Kate, literally and figuratively, can enjoy the blue skies again.
• Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with over 15 years of experience working with a number of major Australian media titles.