There have been indications from the palaces that suggest disquiet, but unofficial policy has been to “retain a dignified silence” in the face of the allegations against the family, ranging from racism to neglect.
Emily Nash, royal editor at Hello! Magazine, says there’s “no doubt the Oprah interview had a huge impact on the family and the institution.”
“I think there was a lot of hurt on both sides,” she tells CNN, adding that “the timing of the interview, inadvertently coinciding with Prince Philip’s hospitalization, was unfortunate.”
The family have clearly decided to ride this out. The last time they engaged in a public war of words was in the 1990s when the court of public opinion took the side of Princess Diana side rather than Charles, to the detriment of the monarchy.
“It really divided opinion in the UK, with younger people tending to side with Harry and Meghan and older people staying firmly loyal to the Queen and her family,” says Nash. “It was a huge talking point at the time, but I wonder if some of that impact has diminished now. Certainly, the images of the Queen sitting alone at Prince Philip’s funeral … elicited enormous sympathy with the public.”
Couple this with more personal blows to the family, such as the scandal surrounding Prince Andrew and Prince Philip’s death, and Greer says, “they don’t look ‘solid’ and I think that’s what people look up to them for.”
She’s not going to let that stop her from celebrating the major milestone of next year’s Platinum Jubilee. Already the longest-serving monarch in Britain’s history, come February 6, the Queen will have been at the helm for 70 years — the first British sovereign to do so.
Organizers have touted the commemorations as “an opportunity for the country to emerge re-energised and renewed, expressing optimism and confidence,” and as a “reopening ceremony” for the UK after a “period of uncertainty and hardship.”
Jubilee celebrations are historically uplifting events, says Nash, giving people an excuse to come together to reflect on the Queen’s reign and how the world has changed.
Amber Melville-Brown, head of the media and reputation practice at law firm Withers, says the prince’s reputation has likely been damaged beyond repair, “but in my view, the brand is too robust to fail as a result of accusations leveled at individual members.”
“As for the monarch herself, Queen Elizabeth II has throughout her reign largely been seen as separate from the family fray, ethereally rising above such matters, unimpeachable,” she continues.
It appears that all aspects of his life could be up for grabs, if the announcement from publisher Penguin Random House is anything to go by. Harry has teased that he’s “worn many hats over the years” and promises to include “the highs and lows” of being a senior royal.
These developments will loom on the horizon. The keep-calm-and-carry-on strategy is a tried and tested one. It appears to be holding for now, but will it work forever?
These family dramas are playing out in a very public way. Next year, the Firm will be eager to show the world how it is reemerging from a challenging period, much stronger for it.
The monarch abstained from her usual trip to Sandringham, instead opting to remain at Windsor amid the Omicron variant surge in the UK. But fear not, the elderly matriarch was not alone. Prince Charles and wife Camilla, as well as Prince Edward and wife Sophie, were among family members who attended a Christmas Day service at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor.
Meanwhile, William and Kate spent the holidays at home in Norfolk, where they were joined by some members of the Middleton family, a royal source told CNN.
WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING
Andrew faces a civil lawsuit filed by Virginia Roberts Giuffre in which she alleges she was trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein and forced to have sex with his friends — including the prince — and that Andrew was aware she was underage (17) in the US. Prince Andrew strongly denies the allegations.
Oral arguments in that case are set for January 4, where attorneys for the 61-year-old prince are expected to argue for the lawsuit’s dismissal. If his lawyers are unsuccessful, or the case is not settled, the royal could face a trial date between September and December 2022. The long-running allegations facing Andrew have already dramatically tarnished his public standing and he stepped back from royal duties in late 2019.
DID YOU KNOW?
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Other members of the royal family sent messages of condolence following the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Prince Charles said he was “deeply saddened” over the Archbishop’s passing and described him as an “inspiration to us all” for “speaking out against the evil of apartheid and highlighting the threat of climate change.” Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, also paid tribute to Tutu, calling him an “icon for racial justice” and a “friend.”
“Archbishop Tutu will be remembered for his optimism, his moral clarity, and his joyful spirit. He was an icon for racial justice and beloved across the world,” they said. “It was only two years ago that he held our son, Archie, while we were in South Africa — “Arch and The Arch” he had joked, his infectious laughter ringing through the room, relaxing anyone in his presence. He remained a friend and will be sorely missed by all,” they added.
Analysis: Royals hope for jubilee reset after tumultuous 12 months