Prince William and Catherine of House Cambridge stepped out together for their first joint engagement of 2022 today, visiting the Foundling Museum which “tells the history of the Foundling Hospital, the UK’s first children’s charity and public art gallery”. The Foundling Hospital was founded in 1739 “to care for babies at risk of abandonment”. Kate is the royal patron of the Foundling Museum and she and William spent their visit speaking to experts about the challenges faced by those in the foster care system and discussed solutions to address obstacles to employment, health care access, and mental wellness.
Will and Kate’s outing comes after several days of royal drama and a couple of weeks of royal mess with Prince Andrew in the headlines, kicking off in the first days of the new year with his legal team arguing that Virginia Roberts Giuffre’s lawsuit against him, accusing him of raping her when she was a teenager, should be dismissed based on the settlement that was reached between Virginia and Epstein back 2009 that supposedly protected other possible “co-defendants”. Judge Lewis Kaplan ended up ruling that the case could proceed to trial, which then resulted in the decision last week, in a statement released by Buckingham Palace, that Andrew would be stripped of his titles and his HRH. And then last night the documentary Ghislaine Prince Andrew and the Paedophile aired on ITV, revealing that Andrew gave Ghislaine Maxwell, now a convicted sex-trafficker, an all-access pass to Buckingham Palace and Andrew’s affinity for teddy bears.
Kate’s 40th birthday was the one royal bright spot of January 2022 with the release of her birthday portraits, providing an opportunity for the tabloids to wet themselves and divert the story away from Andrew and his alleged perversions. That high, though, barely lasted a week as the focus came back to Andrew, the accusations against him, who’s paying for his legal troubles, how all of this reflects on the monarchy generated worldwide attention. Earlier this week a plaque in his name at a police station was removed after a member of the public made a complaint. Today the New York Times ran an opinion piece written by Tanya Gold with the title, “A Possible Sex Offender Doesn’t Look Good on a Commemorative Tea Towel” and how the British royals are handling – or mishandling – the Andrew problem. In the piece, Tanya Gold compares the Windsors to the Corleones in The Godfather, and Charles and Andrew to Michael and Fredo respectively. It’s probably not the first time someone’s made the connection between Andrew and Fredo and it’s apt. Fredo is the family f-ckup, an embarrassment to the family business. And as Tanya Gold points out, like the Corleones, for the Windsors, business comes before family. The crown comes before love – and the British monarchy has a centuries of experience dealing with family members who fall out of line. Per Tanya Gold:
“If “The Godfather” does not explain his predicament to him, Andrew could read the history of his own family. He would learn that exile, imprisonment and execution are normal in the royal family. Murder is rare, but still, it’s been known to happen.”
She then goes on to cite example after example of brutal British royal family revenge with instances that are not unlike what Michael did to Fredo.
Which brings us back to Andrew, who is exiled from public life now, and certainly not in danger of being offed by his brother, but I imagine his banishment must feel like a kind of death, a social death. And to cover up the stain he’s left behind, it’s up to the likes of the Cambridges to razzle and dazzle and distract from the embarrassment and shame that Andrew has brought to a family that pretended for so long to be the standard-bearers of class and grace.
That’s what the Firm is counting on – that Will and Kate can rebuild the sparkle of the monarchy one royal outing at a time. And especially this year, the year of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee as she celebrates her 70 year reign on February 6 with more events taking place throughout the year. We are three weeks way from that date. They’ll want it smooth and scandal-free in the days leading up to it. There’s currently talk of the Platinum Jubilee medals that Her Majesty will award on February 6 – to civilians, frontline workers, household staff, and members of her family as a token of thanks. Right now then, the PR priority for Buckingham Palace is to take the conversation as far away from the accused sex offender member of the family as possible. Will be interesting to see how they manage that.
PS. This is one of the best blowouts I’ve seen on Kate in a while.