Daniela Elser: Beatrice’s baby news being revealed on Meghan and Harry’s anniversary is no coincidence
The royal family is generally not an overt beast. They don’t so much wear their hearts on their sleeves as lock them away in an antique gun safe in the Buckingham Palace cellar and then on purpose lose the key down the back of a corgi-chewed sofa.
But, on the rare occasion, what looks outwardly like their total lack of subtlety is startling.
Yesterday, the palace put out its usual stock standard, terse statement revealing the Queen’s granddaughter Princess Beatrice is expecting her first child with her dishy English/Italian property developer husband Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi. (“Dishy” sadly being editorialisation on my part and not an adjective the royal house would ever deploy.)
It was a touch of good news for Her Majesty after a bumpy week which has seen her grandson and recalcitrant royal Prince Harry indulge in his new favourite pastime, denigrating the royal house in full public view, and her dorgi puppy Fergus die.
However, timing is everything.
Bea’s jolly revelation was not announced on any old day. No, the newlywed’s baby press release happened to come out on the very same day as Harry and wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex’s third wedding anniversary.
The symmetry here is particularly intriguing given that it was at Bea’s sister’s Princess Eugenie’s 2018 wedding that Harry and Meghan decided to tell his family that she was pregnant.
Their move “did not go down particularly well” with the bride according to last year’s pro-Sussex biography Finding Freedom. Eugenie, the authors wrote, “told friends she felt the couple should have waited to share the news”.
That a Mapelli Mozzi bebé, who will be 11th in line to the throne, is on the way was far from the only Windsor action hitting the headlines.
On the same day, as institutions across the UK come back to life, a glamorous Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, appeared at London’s V&A Museum for the opening of a new Alice in Wonderland with the British press liberally applying the word “dazzling” in their coverage.
Elsewhere, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, are in Northern Ireland for a royal tour, spending the day visiting a lighthouse and touring an equine therapy facility. (And you thought being a working HRH could be dull. Pish.)
The Queen was similarly getting on with things, holding two audiences with the newly appointed Argentina and Canadian ambassadors, via video from Windsor Castle.
So what are we to make of all this? Is this a case of revenge being a dish best served via a coat of arms bedecked press release? Are we to believe that a current and future queen and the next king would do something quite so … petty?
Still, surely the Bea baby announcement could have been made earlier in the week or next week. She and Edo were papped out to lunch in Notting Hill a couple of weeks ago and there was not a sign that she might be pregnant so it seems doubtful an obvious baby bump necessitated the news being made public.
It is also intriguing that so much Windsor activity should have been scheduled to take place around the time of Harry and Meghan’s special day. As anyone who has been following along with the Sussex melodrama knows this is far from the first time there has been this sort of curious overlap.
For example: The couple announced they were quitting royal life on January 8 last year, the day before Kate’s birthday. On April 5, the Queen delivered her historic pandemic TV address evoking the wartime spirit saying, “We’ll meet again”; the following day details about the Duke and Duchess’ new charitable entity Archewell were revealed by The Telegraph.
More recently, March 23 this year was Eugenie’s birthday, which just happened to be the same day that Harry’s appointment as a Chief Impact Officer for a billion-dollar Silicon Valley company was announced.
So many coincidences, huh?
Whatever the underlying intention, or total lack thereof, around the timing of Bea’s baby press release going out, what is abundantly clear is that the royal family is putting on a united and diligent front, nearly all of them out and about flying the flag for the Queen in well-oiled concert.
That image of family solidarity and monarchical graft comes nearly a week after Harry appeared on actor Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast and indulged in a fresh round of royal denunciation.
(That said, royal engagements are organised months out so these outings would have been jotted down in red pen in leather-bound diaries ages ago so this week’s outings are not some sort of spur-of-the-moment damage limitation exercise.)
This week’s show of cohesion and all-round jolly devotion to the Queenly cause stands in clear contrast to the image the couple have repeatedly painted of a dysfunctional and toxic institution. The overall Windsor message: We’re getting on with business, impervious to those pesky grumbling Sussexes. Now, does anyone have a regional iron smelter they would like us to visit?
At the time of writing Harry and Meghan have yet to release any sort of new image or message to mark their third anniversary.
It’s breathtaking that the intoxicating promise of their wedding day, of a royal family showing a smidgen of incipient inclusiveness, of a newly minted Duke and Duchess dashing forth to help supercharge the monarchy for a new(ish) century, evaporated so fast.
Instead the Sussexes only celebrated one wedding anniversary as working HRHs, their fairytale having curdled so precipitously that they marked their second anniversary in California swatting at buzzing paparazzi drones.
The traditional third wedding anniversary gift is leather, so maybe it’s time they, and the royal family, all bought themselves some new diaries so that maybe one day there will be no more pesky clashes.
• Daniela Elser is a royal expert and a writer with more than 15 years’ experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media titles.
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