Royal Corner

2020 Proves The Cambridge's Worth

It's been a royal year of ups and downs. Members quit, others banished. The past reared its head once again & a pandemic altered the royal's way of working - yet the Cambridge's have been a stable force throughout.


DECEMBER 21st, 2020

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's Christmas Card for 2020 - © KensingtonRoyal/Instagram

I

t’s been a challenging year for all involved; we’ve battled pandemics, uncertainty, political upheaval and consistent social obstacles, which have made 2020 a year many will wish to forget. For the Royal Family, the trials and tribulations of this year have battered the palace doors too, and yet amongst the angst and scandals, one element has prevailed to the forefront of the conversations around the monarchy – the future.

It’s fair to say that whilst the overall future of the Royal Family is pretty much set in stone, there have been moments when its stability has been ambiguous. We’ve seen the Duke and Duchess of Sussex step back from royal duties and cause utter carnage in their wake through their many self-inflicted mistakes. Prince Andrew has been forced from royal life due to his appalling miscalculated relationships with a convicted paedophile, as well as the severe allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor, and Netflix’s The Crown has reawakened the spectre of the War of the Wales’ between Prince Charles and Princess Diana to a whole new generation – irrespective of whether what they’ve watched is completely based in fact.

To put it simply, the Queen’s iconic phrase of ‘annus horribilis’ seems pretty apt to describe most of 2020.

The "New" slimmed down monarchy dubbed "The Magnificent Seven". - © Getty Images


Yet, amongst the dark clouds which have swirled above Buckingham Palace, there have been moments of reprieve. Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall have continued their work, raising awareness for domestic violence victims and organising support through the Prince’s Trust for young people affected by the pandemic. The Earl and Countess of Wessex have been tirelessly offering their valuable encouragement behind-the-scenes, helping foodbanks, providing meals for those in need and ensuring that the Duke of Edinburgh Award shines as brightly as it ever did before. Princess Anne has celebrated her 70th birthday and continued her stoic and unwavering approach to her royal duties, and Her Majesty The Queen delivered arguably her most important public address throughout her long reign – comforting the nation as we anxiously entered a nationwide lockdown. The Royals have done much to lift the public’s spirits at a time when most have felt desperately lost and low.

But it is a fair assessment, that amongst the impeccable work by the remaining members of the Royal Family, one couple have truly led the way and become the monarchy’s public face at this most perilous of times – the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.



When William and Catherine married in 2011, the public were fully aware that this young, modern and vibrant couple would become Britain’s greatest institution’s future. Upon them was the weight of not only the crown, but the hopes and dreams of the public and wider commonwealth. It is an unsurmountable pressure that many would buckle beneath, yet William and Catherine have managed to keep the mystique and magic alive.

Next year, the Cambridge’s will celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary, and throughout those ten years we have watched William and Catherine slowly develop their standing within public life. They’ve become a family of five by welcoming three children, and perfectly managed to balance the elements of public and private life with ease. This slow and steady approach has reaped its benefits for the royal family, and they’re not more greatly felt than in a crisis.

The Cambridge's leave the Commonwealth Service with the Sussex's causing speculation on the "fab four's" relationship. - © Getty Images


At a time when the public’s physical, economical and mental health has taken sustained hit after sustained hit, the Cambridge’s have offered their support. They’ve invested in mental health charities, raised millions of pounds for emergency funding. The couple have led the nation in championing and celebrating our NHS and key workers. They have helped keep the public’s morale above water, reminding us all that our country’s name isn’t the United Kingdom for nothing.

Although it is easy to list the accomplishments and support the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have achieved this year – Prince William launched the Earthshot Prize to much fanfare and praise, and Catherine revealed her highly anticipated findings from her 5 Big Questions Survey and captured the nation through her Hold Still Initiative – there is something which runs much deeper, which stems beyond the framework of the couple’s duties.



In times of turmoil, here in Britain, we look to our public figures for guidance, specifically the Queen and wider Royal Family. For some on the outside looking in, it is an approach which may seem bizarre. How can you find solace in an unelected Head of State and her family who live with unprecedented wealth, power and privilege? The answer is surprisingly simple – because the Queen and the Royal Family are always there, they are a constant which denotes a stability which cannot be found in other walks of public life. The role of our sovereign stretches way beyond two presidential terms in office – it is for life; a marriage vow between the monarch and his or her people which must remain unbroken.

Pertaining this notion, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have, whether unknowingly or not, provided a clear and crisp snapshot into public life under their reign as King and Queen, and more so, at a time of unprecedented nationwide improbability.

The Queen is joined by the Duke of Cambridge to open a new research centre at Porton Down. - © Getty Images


Throughout their recent royal train tour, which although faced some questionable criticism, was warmly received by those of whom it was intended for, it was hard to miss the regal imagery staringly visible. It wasn’t just the physical presence of the couple, or their warmth and thanks to those they visited, but beneath the surface of Catherine’s fashion choices and William’s now famous scarves, was an undercurrent of indefinable comfort. For a moment, amongst the chaos of the pandemic maelstrom devouring the country’s sanity, a sense of normality returned. To see our future King and Queen Consort following the traditional royal playbook; touring the country and providing a lashing of royal magic, it was a welcome respite from the confusion. It was, in essence, what the Royal Family do best – and the Cambridge’s do it pretty damn well.

In 2020, William and Catherine have begun to form their own version of that most sacred of royal vows – a lifetime of service to the public. For the Cambridge’s there is not a white flag of surrender, and unlike other members of their family, they cannot “quit”, sign multi-million-pound deals, and use their royal titles whilst mirroring the life of celebrity. Their duty is one which is defined beyond the realms of popularity or fame. It exists not only in the moments of grandeur, traditional formalities, the lavish banquets and balcony appearances, but in the quiet meetings with the public. It is in the shaking of a hand, or by 2020’s standards, a socially distanced “hello”. It exists in an innocent and reassuring phone call between a Duchess and Len from Batley, and it occurs in the life-saving texts of a Prince who has trained as a Crisis volunteer for a mental health app, which is needed now more than ever.



It is these small approaches, married with the prestige, regality and formality of public life, which the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have justly chosen to focus on. Looking back over 2020, it is remarkable that the Cambridge’s have remained resolutely stitched to this path. Against the noise of two controversial biographies, which effectively threw the couple to the wolves, the consistent speculation around the relationship between Prince William and his brother Prince Harry, the investigation into the historic BBC Panorama interview with Diana, Princess of Wales, and the growing – and recently renewed – calls for the crown to bypass Prince Charles and land upon the head of the Duke of Cambridge, the Cambridges should be awarded for remaining so resolutely stable – or at least giving the appearance of being so. And yet, it is through this stability where the public can find confidence in the continuity of the Royal Family.

The Duke and Duchess released this stunning image of the couple whilst waiting for the Royal Train at Batley Station - © KensingtonRoyal/Instagram


When Princess Diana was alive, she claimed in recorded tapes that she was actively changing the monarchy “from within” for the moment when William would become king. It was a revelation which was applauded by some and bemoaned by others. Those who bemoaned it saw Diana’s “interventions” as a new framework which couldn’t work, for they undermined the reasoning of the Royal Family. For some courtiers, royalty and the people should remain separated; get too close, or seem to be seen as too similar and the people will begin to wonder what is the point of a Royal Family if they are just like us? Why should they live in such luxury if they are the same as me and you? And whilst this is in part true, Diana’s forceful changes did create some huge benefits.

They enabled the Cambridge’s to develop a structure which works across all generations, allowed a freedom to mix the traditional approach of monarchy with a modern twist. In the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge we have the sentiments of the Queen’s generation, Prince Charles’ generation, with the approach of a modern-day monarchy which continues to provide space for the Royal Family to evolve. Ultimately it all boils down to maintaining a balancing act, a successful attempt to achieve expectations, not necessarily exceed them. The public want a monarchy they can find comfort in. We don’t want celebrity; we want stability which can continue to spellbind us. .



It is a hard ask to deliver, which is why some members of the monarchy have struggled to understand how to. Yet for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge they have – and still do. They achieve it in the small moments they share with the public as well as the grander elements of their roles, and we should be relieved that they do so.

Through William and Catherine, the Royal Family’s 2020 hasn’t nearly been the storm that it could have been. The public have seen them as the stable force willingly taking the royal helm when needed, regardless of how choppy the waters may have become at times. This year has demonstrated to the British public, the Commonwealth and even the world, that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge can pretty much weather any storm. Because of William and Catherine, their children, the wider Royal Family and the Queen’s quiet and dignified confidence in the Cambridge’s, the monarchy’s future, which has been dealt wound after wound in 2020, looks mightily happier and far more glorious.

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