By and large, the Platinum Jubilee celebrations were a success. Barring the odd moment of inexplicable poor taste, it was a well-choreographed blend of pageantry, ceremony and fun, and the deservedly viral clip of Paddington taking tea with the Queen seemed to epitomise a spirit of generosity and togetherness. Yet Her Majesty might be forgiven, looking at the headlines since the Jubilee, for wishing that she could always be in the company of an amiable fictitious bear, rather than her unpredictable and wilful family.
The first major story of the past weekend was the revelation that Prince Charles is vehemently opposed to the government’s policy of deporting migrants to Rwanda, describing it privately as ‘appalling’ and suggesting that he was ‘more than disappointed’ with the idea. While this garnered an unusual amount of support for the Prince from left-leaning social media, it also confirmed fears that many have that, when he becomes king, Charles will be an unusually interventionist monarch, sparking a potential constitutional crisis.
That is, of course, if his younger brother hasn’t already caused the family terminal embarrassment. Prince Andrew’s absence from the Jubilee celebrations was deftly if unconvincingly explained away with a convenient bout of Covid. But he has now arisen from his sick bed to let it be known that he wants to have his royal status ‘reinstated, recognised and respected’, and that he wishes to be restored to his former title of Colonel of the Grenadier Guards. He also wants his daughters Beatrice and Eugenie recognised as working royals. Not only does the story epitomise the brass neck that the not-so-grand Duke of York has consistently displayed, but it runs counter to the briefings that he will not be allowed to appear at today’s Order of the Garter ceremony thanks to interventions by his brother and nephew. Even the most kindly-disposed would regard this as little less than chaotic.
And, not to be left out, the Duke of Sussex – the Clown Prince himself – also popped up during this especially turbulent time. It was reported that the Duke and his wife felt that their attempt to ‘mend fences’ with his wider family was unsuccessful, and that ‘they ran into a brick wall… they expected to have a warmer welcome than what they received.’ It has been suggested that the major reason for this chilly reception is widespread (and, by all accounts, justified) unease as to how revelatory Harry’s forthcoming memoir is expected to be. Any family gathering always has one irritant present. If that particular irritant and his spouse have been doing their best to systematically undermine their family, it is little wonder that unsurpassable walls of protocol have been erected.
The Queen’s health is now a topic of constant discussion. To see her looking fit and well during the Jubilee celebrations was a relief for the millions who regard her as the ‘proper’ face of the contemporary monarchy. But given the self-indulgent shenanigans that her family seem intent on creating during the final years of her reign, she might be forgiven for wanting to abandon the whole pack of them, retiring to Windsor Castle and letting her ungrateful brood get on with sabotaging the institution that she has spent seven painstaking decades protecting. Many of us would sympathise with that desire.