Egypt held a gala parade on Saturday celebrating the transport of 22 of its prized royal mummies from central Cairo to their new resting place in a massive new museum further south in the capital.
The ceremony, designed to showcase the country’s rich heritage, snaked along the Nile corniche from the Egyptian Museum overlooking Tahrir Square, to the newly opened National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in the Fustat neighborhood, where Egypt’s first Islamic capital was located.
The mummies were being transported in climate-controlled cases loaded onto trucks decorated with wings and pharaonic design for the hour-long journey from their previous home in the older, Egyptian Museum. The vehicles were designed to appear like the ancient boats used to carry deceased pharaohs to their tombs.
Most of the mummies belong to the ancient New Kingdom, which ruled Egypt between 1539 B.C. to 1075 B.C., according to the ministry of antiquities.
They include Ramses II, one of the country’s most famous pharaohs, and Queen Hatshepsut, Egypt’s only woman Pharaoh — who wore a false beard to overcome tradition requiring women to play only secondary roles in the royal hierarchy.
The mummies — 18 pharaohs and four other royals — were originally buried around 3,000 years ago in secret tombs in the Valley of Kings and the nearby Deir el-Bahri site. Both areas are near the southern city of Luxor. The tombs were first excavated in the 19th century.
After excavation, the mummies were taken to Cairo by boats that sailed the Nile. Some were showcased in glass cases, while others were stored. The remains of Ramses II were taken to Paris in 1976 for intensive restoration work by French scientists.
The made-for-TV parade was part of Egypt’s efforts to attract foreign tourists by publicizing its ancient artifacts. The tourism industry has been reeling from political turmoil following the 2011 popular uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak, and more recently, the coronavirus pandemic.
“This parade is a unique global event that will not be repeated,” declared Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Anany.
Security is tight in the capital, with authorities closing off major streets and intersections all along the route for the slow-moving vehicles. Guards on horses and Egyptian celebrities and signers followed the motorcade.
“Again, Egypt dazzles the world with an unrivalled event,” said movie star Hussein Fahmy in an official promotional video.
The event started in the late afternoon and was broadcast live on the country’s state-run television and other satellite stations. The Tourism and Antiquities Ministry also live-streamed it on social media platforms.
The “Pharaohs’ Golden Parade” circled Tahrir square, where authorities officially unveiled an obelisk and four sphinxes to now decorate Cairo’s most famous square.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, who will welcome the mummies at the new museum, tweeted: “This majestic scene is a new evidence of the greatness of this people, the guarding of this unique civilization that extends into the depths of history.”
Once at the new museum, 20 of the mummies will be displayed, while the remaining two will be stored, according to the ministry.
For about an hour, Edward shared the screen with commanding officers from the Prince Edward Island Regiment, the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment in eastern Ontario and the Saskatchewan Dragoons, along with two reserve units in the United Kingdom.
Officers told Edward how their regiments turned to online training after the pandemic struck, how they worked to support the mental health of their members and how they prepared to help as needed in their communities.
Maj. Mack Driscoll of the Saskatchewan Dragoons welcomed the chance to speak online with Edward, who last visited the regiment in person in 2016.
“I think that what I really appreciated about it is [how] the adoption of virtual visits across the board this year has certainly made people more accessible than … they were in the past,” Driscoll said in an interview.
Edward was “really interested” in how the last year has affected the regiments when it comes to training in a virtual environment, and the tasks they have taken on in support of government pandemic response efforts, Driscoll said.
“Also, we had quite a discussion on just the mental resiliency of soldiers and how we all worked to support our unit members during a really challenging time.”
Lt.-Col. Glenn Moriarity, commanding officer of the Prince Edward Island Regiment, said it was a “real honour and a privilege” to have the opportunity to speak with Edward.
Moriarity outlined how in the early days of the pandemic they shifted to training from home — and returned later to in-person sessions — along with offering his perspective on morale, which is “quite high” right now among members of the regiment.
“It was a very relaxed conversation [with Edward],” Moriarity said in an interview. “It was very natural.”
Members of the Royal Family serve as colonel-in-chief of numerous military units across Canada.
Edward “is always … very well read in to the situation both with our regiment and just the overall situation in the military in general,” said Driscoll.
“I think what we all took away from the conversation was just how similar our experiences are, both amongst the Canadian regiments and the regiments in the U.K…. He was certainly very interested in that, especially the well-being of the units and the members.”
Doing a virtual visit raises the possibility of similar online contact in the future, although Edward also told the officers he hoped that as soon as travel would allow, he would be able to visit in person.
The hour-long session was not without a lighter moment or two.
Driscoll’s sergeant major, Master Warrant Officer Rob Tryhorn, was also on the Zoom call. But reservists are part-time soldiers, so his participation came while he was at work. And in his case, work is driving a truck.
“He had to join the call from a truck stop in Montana,” said Driscoll.
“So I think that was really something that His Royal Highness got a kick out of … as [Tryhorn] is kind of huddled at a table wearing a mask and I’m sure everyone in the truck stop is wondering exactly what is going on, and here he is talking to Prince Edward.”
William and Kate make their own mark
After the explosive Oprah Winfrey interview with Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, laid bare their view on their departure from the upper echelons of the Royal Family, many looked to the House of Windsor for a response.
The interview raised numerous serious issues and allegations around race, mental health and support within the family itself.
Beyond that, however, there has been no official comment. But William’s reaction, along with how other members of the family are carrying on with their duties, may offer some insight into their position.
“Many millions of people watched Oprah and millions will have believed everything Harry and Meghan said,” royal author and biographer Penny Junor said via email this week.
“I think William will have been furious with his brother and sister-in-law, and his remark to the reporter’s question about whether the family was racist was an admirably measured response.
“It was important for someone to say something, but I think he and the rest of the family know that the best way to counter all the claims and accusations is to keep on trucking, to continue the work, to be visible and to behave with dignity.”
Kate also made a low-key appearance at a vigil in honour of a London woman who was slain while walking home alone from a friend’s house.
“The contrast, for instance, between Kate quietly joining the Sarah Everard vigil and Meghan appearing on Oprah spoke volumes,” Junor said.
As touching as the cards are, in that action of social sharing from royal parents who have been vigorous in protecting their children’s privacy, it was hard not to see at least a bit of public positioning.
“I think this was a gentle way of reminding people that William was Diana’s son, too — and that Harry was not the only one who lost his mother,” said Junor.
William and Kate have continued with royal engagements, some related to the pandemic, including an appearance at Westminster Abbey, where they met people there to receive their COVID-19 vaccine.
The public spotlight on William continued last weekend when he was the focus of a report in the Sunday Times magazine that spawned numerous other news reports. Many cited comments from insiders regarding how as King, William would “robustly challenge” advice from his prime ministers in private if he felt it would damage the monarchy.
Junor said she’s sure William’s friends quoted in the article would not have spoken “without at least a nod” from him.
“I suspect there is a feeling that Harry and Meghan’s behaviour is providing a very distracting sideshow and taking the spotlight away from the important work that the rest of the family does,” Junor said.
“Harry claimed that William is trapped but can’t escape, as he did. I guess William is keen to demonstrate that that is not the way he feels about royal duty and that he accepts his destiny and, like his grandmother, will devote his life to the service of the country.”
A baby boy — on the bathroom floor
When Zara and Mike Tindall let it be known they were expecting their third child, the news was in keeping with their laid-back ways, and came from a decidedly unroyal source.
The father-to-be — a former rugby player — took to his sports podcast late last year to share the word that he and Zara, the Queen’s eldest granddaughter, were looking forward to the arrival of a brother or sister for daughters, Mia, 7, and Lena, 2.
So it was perhaps not that much of a surprise that Tindall turned to his The Good, the Bad & the Rugby podcast again this week to announce the birth of their son on Sunday.
Buckingham Palace said Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were “delighted” with the arrival of Lucas Philip Tindall, their 10th great-grandchild.
What might have been more of a surprise for the Tindalls was the way in which the baby — whose middle name honours both sides of the family — came into the world.
“Arrived very quickly. Didn’t make it to hospital. On the bathroom floor,” Tindall told his podcast listeners.
“So yeah, it was running to the gym, get a mat, get into the bathroom, get the mat on the floor, towels down, brace, brace, brace.”
“It’s fascinating to see the pictures of Mars — unbelievable, really, to think one can see its surface.”
— Queen Elizabeth, in reference to photos of the Red Planet taken by NASA’s Perseverance rover, during a virtual event to celebrate British Science Week. Elizabeth also got a lot of laughter from the scientists she was speaking with when she recalled her 1961 meeting with cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first human to travel into space. When asked what he was like, Elizabeth said, “Russian,” before adding that “he was fascinating, and I suppose being the first one, it was particularly fascinating.”
The Royal Family is considering appointing a diversity czar. Reports regarding that move come after Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey where they said an unnamed member of the family had made a racist comment about their son before he was born. The Guardian reported that the palace work regarding diversity predates the March 7 interview, but Harry and Meghan’s comments “will be taken on board as part of the process.”
Harry said he is “really excited” about taking on the position of chief impact officer with BetterUp, a San Francisco-based mental health and coaching firm. [BBC]
Harry has also written a foreword for a book aimed at children of front-line workers who died in the pandemic, sharing pain he felt as a boy after the death of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. [CBC]
Prince William defended Britain’s monarchy Thursday against accusations of bigotry made by his brother, Prince Harry, and sister-in-law, Meghan, insisting the family is not racist.
In comments made during a visit to an east London school, William became the first royal to directly address the explosive interview broadcast Sunday in the U.S. that Harry and Meghan gave to Oprah Winfrey.
“We’re very much not a racist family,” he said as his wife, Kate, walked by his side.
Harry and Meghan’s allegations of racism and mistreatment have rocked the Royal Family, and Buckingham Palace sought to respond to them in a 61-word statement Tuesday, but it has failed to quell the controversy.
William, second in line to the throne after his father, Prince Charles, says he hadn’t yet spoken to Harry in the aftermath of the interview, “but I will do.”
Racism, mental health discussions
Meghan, who is biracial, said in the interview she was so isolated and miserable as a working member of the Royal Family that she had suicidal thoughts. She also said Harry told her there were “concerns and conversations” by a Royal Family member about the colour of her baby’s skin when she was pregnant with their son, Archie.
Their comments have touched off conversations around the world about racism, mental health and even the relationship between Britain and its former colonies.
William and Kate toured School21 in Stratford, east London as children returned to classes. The visit was also meant to mark the rollout to secondary schools of a mental health project Kate launched in primary schools in 2018.
WATCH | Prince William addresses Meghan, Harry’s interview:
Prince William responded to allegations of racism in the Royal Family by saying the family isn’t racist and he hasn’t spoken to his brother, Prince Harry, since the bombshell interview with Oprah aired. 2:02
Britain and its Royal Family absorbed the tremors Monday from a sensational television interview with Prince Harry and Meghan, in which the couple said they encountered racist attitudes and a lack of support that drove the duchess to thoughts of suicide.
In a two-hour soul-baring interview by Oprah Winfrey, the couple painted a deeply unflattering picture of life inside the royal household, depicting a cold, uncaring institution that they had to flee to save their lives.
Meghan told Winfrey that at one point “I just didn’t want to be alive anymore.” She said she sought help through the palace’s human resources department but was told there was nothing it could do.
Meghan, 39, admitted that she was naive at the start of her relationship with Harry and unprepared for the strictures of royal life.
The former television star, who is biracial, said that when she was pregnant with son Archie, there were “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.”
Harry confirmed the conversation, saying: “I was a bit shocked.” He said he would not reveal who made the comment, though Winfrey said he told her it was not either of his grandparents, Queen Elizabeth or her husband, Prince Philip.
Politicians weigh in
Asked about the interview at a coronavirus news conference, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson steadfastly refused to comment on the explosive allegations of racism and dysfunction inside the Royal Family.
Johnson said he had “always had the highest admiration for the Queen and the unifying role that she plays in our country and across the Commonwealth.”
But he said that “when it comes to matters to do with the Royal Family, the right thing for a prime minister to say is nothing.”
In contrast, Keir Starmer, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, says the palace has to take the allegations seriously.
“The issues that Meghan has raised of racism and mental health are really serious issues,” he said. “It is a reminder that too many people experience racism in 21st-century Britain.”
In the U.S., where Harry and Meghan now live, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki was asked whether President Joe Biden and his wife Jill had any reaction to the interview.
Psaki said Meghan’s decision to speak about her struggles with mental health “takes courage” and “that’s certainly something the president believes in.”
But she said she wouldn’t offer additional comment on the situation “given these are private citizens, sharing their own story and their own struggles.”
Harry slams ‘toxic’ British tabloid press
Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, announced they were quitting royal duties last year, citing what they said were the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media, and they moved to California, where Meghan was born and raised.
That split became official this year, and the interview was widely seen as their first opportunity to explain their decision.
In a clip released Monday that was not broadcast the night before, Harry reiterated that racism was “a large part” of the reason the couple left Britain — and he blamed the “toxic” British tabloid press.
“The U.K. is not bigoted,” he said. “The U.K. press is bigoted, specifically the tabloids.”
The implications for the interview — which was broadcast Sunday night in the United States and will air in Britain on Monday night — are only beginning to be understood. Emily Nash, royal editor at Hello! magazine, said the revelations had left her and many other viewers “shell-shocked.”
“I don’t see how the palace can ignore these allegations; they’re incredibly serious,” she said. “You have the racism allegations. Then you also have the claim that Meghan was not supported, and she sought help even from the HR team within the household and was told that she couldn’t seek help.”
‘This rotten institution needs to go’
Anti-monarchy group Republic said the interview gave a clearer picture of what the Royal Family is like — and it’s not pretty.
“Whether for the sake of Britain or for the sake of the younger royals, this rotten institution needs to go,” Graham Smith of the campaign group said.
Harry, born a royal prince, described how his wife’s experience had helped him realize how he and the rest of the family were stuck in an oppressive institution.
“I was trapped, but I didn’t know I was trapped,” Harry said. “My father and my brother, they are trapped.”
Meghan, he said, “saved me.”
WATCH | Meghan says Royal Family failed to protect her and Prince Harry:
The Duchess of Sussex told Oprah Winfrey that things started to worsen with the Royal Family after she and Harry were married. 0:23
The younger royals — including Harry, Meghan, Harry’s brother, Prince William, and William’s wife, Catherine — have made campaigning for support and awareness around mental health one of their priorities. But Harry said the Royal Family was completely unable to offer that support to its own members.
“For the family, they very much have this mentality of ‘This is just how it is, this is how it’s meant to be, you can’t change it, we’ve all been through it,'” Harry said.
Criticism, sympathy for the couple
The couple had faced severe criticism in the United Kingdom before the interview. Prince Philip, 99, is in a London hospital after recovering from a heart procedure, and critics saw the decision to go forward as being a burden on the Queen — even though CBS, rather than Harry and Meghan, dictated the timing of the broadcast.
In the United States, sympathy for the couple poured in after the interview. Britain could be less forgiving, since some see the pair as putting personal happiness ahead of public duty.
Tennis star Serena Williams, a friend who attended Harry and Meghan’s wedding, said on Twitter that the duchess’s words “illustrate the pain and cruelty she’s experienced.”
“The mental health consequences of systemic oppression and victimization are devastating, isolating and all too often lethal,” Williams added.
Other well-known figures also reacted on social media, including filmmaker Ava DuVernay — who referenced the BBC’s bombshell interview with Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, in 1995 — tennis star Billie Jean King and U.S. inauguration poet Amanda Gorman.
“It’s the strength that causes the confusion and the fear.” <a href=”https://t.co/M0JLKogYgc”>pic.twitter.com/M0JLKogYgc</a>
Among the revelations from the Meghan and Harry interview is Meghan’s struggle with mental health. <br><br>Her honesty will hopefully lead to more acceptance and more help for those who need it. <br><br> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/OprahMeghanHarry?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#OprahMeghanHarry</a>
Some 17.1 million Americans — tuning in for one of the biggest TV events in the past year — watched the interview, broadcaster CBS said on Monday.
CBS said the interview was the most watched TV special outside the annual National Football League Super Bowl in a year.
While clips of the interview have been shared online, and the British press covered the major points, much of Britain won’t see the full interview until Monday night — and many will want to know how the palace addresses this saga. The palace has not responded to the interview.
In a wide-ranging interview aired Sunday, Meghan described painful discussions within the Royal Family about the colour of her son’s skin before he was born and how the intense pressures of royal life led her to contemplate suicide.
“They didn’t want him to be a prince or princess, not knowing what the gender would be, which would be different from protocol, and that he wasn’t going to receive security,” The Duchess of Sussex told Oprah Winfrey, referring to Archie.
“In those months when I was pregnant, all around this same time — so we have in tandem the conversation of, you won’t be given security, not gonna be given a title and also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born,” said Meghan, who is biracial.
She declined to say who had aired such concerns. Asked by Winfrey if she was silent or had been silenced, she replied: “The latter.”
WATCH | Meghan says Royal Family expressed concerns about son’s skin colour:
Meghan told Oprah Winfrey that the Royal Family didn’t want her and Prince Harry’s son to be made a prince or receive security partly over concerns over how dark the baby’s skin would be. 0:15
Meghan also she had suicidal thoughts and considered harming herself after asking for help but getting none. “This was very, very clear … and very scary,” she said.
“I just didn’t want to be alive any more. And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought. And I remember how [Prince Harry] just cradled me.”
WATCH | Meghan says she thought about suicide during royal life:
The Duchess of Sussex told Oprah Winfrey that she had asked for help from the Royal Family for her mental health, but received none. 0:22
Harry says Charles stopped taking his calls
Harry, who joined the interview halfway through, said his father — Prince Charles, the heir to the throne — had stopped taking his calls when he and Meghan decided to step away from their royal duties.
The Duke of Sussex, who announced that he and his wife are expecting a girl this summer, said that he felt let down by his father and that his late mother, Princess Diana, would have been angry and upset at the way the Royal Family had treated his wife Meghan.
Harry told Winfrey that he would not have stepped back from the royal family had it not been for Meghan, because “I was trapped but didn’t know I was trapped.”
“I feel really let down because he’s been through something similar. He knows what the pain feels like,” Harry said of his father. “I will always love him but there’s a lot of hurt that’s happened.”
“My family literally cut me off financially,” Harry said. “But I’ve got what my mum left me and without that we would not have been able to do this.”
Earlier, Meghan said the Royal Family tried to silence her and people within the institution not only failed to protect her against malicious claims by the British press but lied to protect others.
WATCH | Meghan says Royal Family failed to protect her and Prince Harry:
The Duchess of Sussex told Oprah Winfrey that things started to worsen with the Royal Family after she and Harry were married. 0:23
“It was only once we were married and everything started to really worsen that I came to understand that not only was I not being protected but that they were willing to lie to protect other members of the family,” Meghan said.
“But they weren’t willing to tell the truth to protect me and my husband.”
Harry also denied blindsiding his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, saying he had too much respect for her.
“I had three conversations with my grandmother, and two conversations with my father before he stopped taking my calls. And then he said, can you put this all in writing?”
Asked why Charles had stopped taking his calls, Harry said “by that point I took matters into my own hands.”
“It was like, I needed to do this for my family. This is not a surprise to anybody. It’s really sad that it’s got to this point, but I’ve got to do something for my own mental health, my wife’s and for Archie’s as well.”
Refuting tabloid reports
Meghan also refuted British tabloid reports that she made her sister-in-law Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, cry before her 2018 wedding, but rather that the reverse happened.
Meghan told Winfrey that Kate subsequently apologized and she forgave her. But when tabloid stories emerged purporting the opposite, Meghan said that marked a turning point for her relationship with U.K. media, and said she would have hoped Kate would have wanted the story corrected.
“What was hard to get over was being blamed for something that not only I didn’t do, but that happened to me.”
The show, which included Winfrey’s interviews with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, aired first in the United States — Meghan’s home country — and Canada at 8 p.m. ET. British audiences will wake up Monday to headlines and social media posts about Winfrey’s special, but won’t be able to see the full interview until Monday night when it airs on ITV.
Meghan told Winfrey that she realized life as a royal would be different than she anticipated when her future husband asked her if she knew how to curtsey before meeting Queen Elizabeth.
“There was no way to understand what the day-to-day was going to be like,” Meghan told Winfrey.
“I went into it naively,” she said about joining the royal family.
Meghan, who said she was not being paid for the interview, also said she and Harry were married by the Archbishop of Canterbury three days before their public wedding. She called that day an “out-of-body experience.”
Prince Harry said he didn’t walk away from his royal duties, in an appearance on The Late, Late Show with James Corden that aired early Friday.
Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, stepped away from full-time royal life in early 2020. Buckingham Palace confirmed last Friday they will not be returning to royal duties, and Harry will give up his honorary military titles.
Harry told Corden he decided to step away from his work as a front-line member of the royal family to protect his wife and son, as well as his own mental health.
“It was stepping back rather than stepping down,” he said. “It was a really difficult environment, which I think a lot of people saw, so I did what any father or husband would do and thought, how do I get my family out of here? But we never walked away, and as far as I’m concerned, whatever decisions are made on that side, I will never walk away.”
Harry and Meghan moved from England to California last year.
The appearance on Corden’s show marked Harry’s first interview since his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, stripped the prince and his wife of their remaining royal duties. Corden’s segment trumped Oprah Winfrey, whose interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex is scheduled to air March 7.
During the segment, Harry and Corden tour southern California in an open-top bus, at one point arriving outside the mansion where the 1990s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was filmed.
“If it was good enough for the Fresh Prince, it’s good enough for a real prince,” Corden said.
The two then proceed to sing the show’s iconic theme song.
Views on The Crown
At one point, Corden asks Harry what he thinks of the Netflix series The Crown, which delves into the personal lives and public actions of the Royal Family. At times, the show has been criticized for its depictions of real people.
“Of course it’s not strictly accurate,” Harry said, “but loosely … it gives you a rough idea about what that lifestyle, what the pressures of putting duty and service above family and everyone else, what can come from that.”
But he noted, “I’m way more comfortable with The Crown than I am seeing the [media] stories written about my family or my wife or myself.”
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When Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank welcomed their first child — a son —a few days ago, there was an official announcement from Buckingham Palace.
There was also comment from the palace a few days later as word spread that Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, are expecting their second child.
But in each case, any official royal comment almost seemed overshadowed by how the couples chose to initially spread their happy news, turning in particular to social media to share carefully curated black-and-white photographs that ultimately revealed few details.
Those photos, and the couples’ actions, provide insight into how life for those a little further down in the line of succession may evolve in a Royal Family that will have fewer working members.
“With some of the more junior royal babies who will not grow up to undertake full-time royal duties … it’s becoming more and more up to their parents to shape what degree of announcement takes place, or if there’s an announcement at all,” said Toronto-based royal author and historian Carolyn Harris.
Take, for instance, how Harry and Eugenie’s cousin Zara Tindall and her husband, Mike Tindall, announced that they are expecting their third child: the former rugby player shared the news on his sports podcast late last year.
For Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank, the arrival of their son — August Philip Hawke Brooksbank — was a bit more in keeping with some past royal births, although the new parents opted out of any kind of photo call before driving away from the hospital.
“There was some media interest in their departure from the hospital, but they didn’t do one of those occasions where the baby is presented to assembled media, even though it’s clear that media were gathering,” said Harris.
Eugenie did, however, share a photo on Instagram of the baby’s hand being held by the hands of his new parents, and more photos were released and posted Saturday.
The announcement last Sunday from Harry and Meghan, who are living in California, garnered international headlines. It also reflected themes emerging around the couple who, Buckingham Palace confirmed Friday, will not be returning to royal duties after stepping back as working members of the family last year. At that time, they talked of seeking a more private, independent life for themselves and their first child, Archie.
“Harry and Meghan are very much engaging with the media on their own terms,” said Harris.
But as they do that, how much and what kind of privacy are they ultimately seeking? For some observers, that’s been a matter of debate.
One tabloid headline — “Publicity-shy woman tells 7.67 billion people: I’m pregnant” in the Daily Star — attracted attention in recent days, with some calling it mean-spirited and others feeling it captured a certain irony of the moment.
The announcement of Meghan’s pregnancy came a few days after she won a privacy case against the Mail on Sunday newspaper over publication of excerpts from a letter to her father and just before a U.S. television network said that it will broadcast an interview with Meghan by celebrity host Oprah Winfrey. Later in the show, which will air on March 7, they will be joined by Harry.
The new babies — those recently arrived or on the horizon — will be great-grandchildren to Queen Elizabeth, but among that generation, their paths in life will likely vary widely depending on how close they are to the throne.
For Prince George, third in the line of succession, and his younger siblings, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, children of Prince William and Kate, the path looks a little more clear.
“George, Charlotte and Louis all have the title of his or her royal highness and an expectation of undertaking full-time royal duties, whereas their cousins and second cousins do not, and as they grow older will probably find that they drop out of the public eye,” said Harris.
Still, they may attract attention now and then.
“Even in the past, comparatively junior members of the Royal Family who lived more private lives still attracted some media interest simply because of these royal connections — even those who had quite distant royal connections,” said Harris, pointing to how a few years ago, the Daily Mail tracked down the person who was last in line to throne.
Archie and his new brother or sister in particular may draw a bit more attention than others of their generation, simply because of who their parents are.
“It’s not surprising that Archie and his sibling … seventh and eighth in line to the throne, are going to attract a great deal of media attention both as members of the Royal Family and because their parents are famous people in their own right,” said Harris.
What’s private and what’s public?
The question of royal privacy was also at play in recent days as news reports focused on a British parliamentary process known as Queen’s Consent and delved into whether Elizabeth might have lobbied the U.K. government to change a draft law in order to conceal her private wealth.
The Guardian reported that government memos discovered in the National Archives show that in the 1970s, the Queen put pressure on government ministers to change proposed legislation “to prevent her shareholdings from being disclosed to the public.”
Buckingham Palace said Elizabeth was shown legislation that might have forced her to reveal her private finances “by convention,” the BBC reported.
On the Royal Family’s website, it says there is “a long established convention that the Queen is asked by Parliament to provide consent (which is different to assent) for the debating of bills which would affect the prerogative or interests of the Crown.”
Consent has not been withheld in modern times, the website said, except when advised by the government.
For those outside the palace and Parliament, it could all seem a bit murky.
“It’s a further example of what I call the confused distinction between what is private and what is public when it comes to the monarchy,” Craig Prescott, a constitutional expert at Bangor University in Wales, said via email.
“Indeed, the law has struggled with the idea of the Queen owning property privately, because once upon a time all land simply belonged to the Crown — it gets confusing very quickly.”
Queen’s Consent was considered a formality, Prescott said, “just a part of the parliamentary process that was perhaps thought to be … a historical hangover as much as anything.”
But the Guardian “has given examples of where it appears that there is a bit more to it than that, especially when the interests of the Queen, or the Prince of Wales, through the Duchy of Cornwall, are involved,” Prescott said.
Still, this doesn’t appear to veer significantly into the realm of royal meddling.
“The examples revealed by the Guardian show that the Queen, or her advisers, have not sought to change government policy in general, but consider how it applies to the Crown, and especially the Queen’s own personal estate,” Prescott said.
“The concern is that the monarch could use this procedure to really place their stamp on government policy, perhaps indicating where they disagree and would like government policy to be changed…. There is no evidence that this is the case.”
And there’s no evidence any version of Queen’s Consent could now reach into Commonwealth countries.
“The U.K. Parliament no longer has the power to legislate for Commonwealth countries such as Canada or Australia,” said Prescott.
Prince Philip in hospital
Prince Philip continues to rest at a central London hospital, where he was admitted earlier this week after feeling unwell.
As is the general custom when it comes to matters of royal health, there have been few details released about his condition.
But royal sources have reportedly described Queen Elizabeth’s husband as being in good spirits when he went into hospital and said that the admission came as a precautionary measure and was not related to COVID-19.
Philip, 99, and Elizabeth, 94, both had their first COVID-19 vaccinations last month.
“The thing that really resonated with me when I started to understand better what it means to have more women around a peacebuilding table was the effect of how peace can last for longer.”
— Sophie, Countess of Wessex, as she took part in an online seminar to talk about the importance of promoting the work of women peacebuilders in conflict zones.
Royals in Canada
The pandemic and ongoing travel restrictions mean royal visits to Canada are unlikely any time soon, but the Royal Family did draw attention to the country the other day.
As Britain was marking the 50th anniversary of decimalization of its currency, the Royal Family’s Twitter feed was diving into monetary trivia, and it came up with a Canadian angle related to the monarch.
In 1935, Canada became the first country in the world to use her image on its currency, when it printed the then nine-year-old Princess Elizabeth on the $ 20 bill.
From Australia to Antigua, Trinidad to Tuvalu, The Queen’s portrait has graced the currencies of 35 different countries — more than any other individual in history.<br><br>📸 Canada was the first to use her image in 1935, when it printed the then 9-year-old Princess on its $ 20 notes. <a href=”https://t.co/3sgPJN4HFT”>pic.twitter.com/3sgPJN4HFT</a>
Since then, and particularly after she became Queen in 1952, there have been numerous images of the Queen on Canadian bills and coins.
Four effigies of Elizabeth have appeared on circulation coins, with new versions introduced in 1953, 1965, 1990 and 2003.
The Royal Canadian Mint also issued a special 50-cent Golden Jubilee circulation coin in 2002, replicating the effigy of Elizabeth that appeared on the 1953 Canadian coronation medallion, a Mint spokesperson said via email.
Elizabeth’s image has also appeared in numerous renditions on bills over eight decades.
In 2015, to mark the Queen becoming the longest-reigning monarch in Canada’s modern era, the Bank of Canada issued a commemorative $ 20 note.
The most current image of the Queen on Canada’s bank notes is based on a photograph taken in 2010, a bank spokesperson said via email.
The portrait on the $ 20 bill issued two years later was taken by Ian Jones and commissioned by the bank.
The images of the Queen on the bills and coins in wallets and pockets across the country seem unlikely to be altered in the near future.
The mint said there are no plans to change the image on circulation coins and the bank said it has no plans at this time to redesign the current $ 20 note featuring the Queen.
Buckingham Palace confirmed Friday that Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, will not be returning to royal duties, and Harry will give up his honorary military titles.
When Harry and Meghan stepped away from full-time royal life in early 2020, it was agreed the situation would be reviewed after a year.
The palace said in a statement “that they will not be returning as working members of The Royal Family.”
It said Harry’s appointment as captain general of the Royal Marines and with other military groups would revert to Queen Elizabeth II before being distributed to other members of the family.
Harry, 36, served in the British army for a decade, including on the front line in Afghanistan and retains a close bond with the military. He founded the Invictus Games for wounded armed services personnel and veterans, first held in 2014 at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
He will also have to relinquish positions as patron of the Rugby Football Union, the Rugby Football League and the London Marathon Charitable Trust.
Meghan, 39, will be stripped of her role as patron of Britain’s National Theatre and the Association of Commonwealth Universities.
In early 2020, Meghan and Harry announced they were quitting royal duties and moving to North America, citing what they said were the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media.
The couple agreed to no longer use the title “Royal Highness” or receive public funds for their work, although it was unclear at the time if those decisions would stand.
They retain their titles of duke and duchess, and Harry is still sixth in line to the British throne. Harry and Meghan now live in Santa Barbara, Calif., and are expecting their second child, a younger sibling for toddler Archie.
They recently announced that they will speak to Oprah Winfrey in a TV special to be broadcast next month.
They continue to have a tense relationship with sections of the British media. Earlier this month, Meghan won a legal victory in a lawsuit against the publisher of the Mail on Sunday, when a British judge ruled the newspaper invaded her privacy by publishing part of a letter she wrote to her estranged father.
A spokesperson for the couple said in a statement that “as evidenced by their work over the past year, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex remain committed to their duty and service to the U.K. and around the world, and have offered their continued support to the organizations they have represented regardless of official role. We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.”
Amid rumours of rifts involving Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, public appearances at Christmas became an opportunity to try to suss out the true nature of royal relationships. Maybe a sideways glance during a walk to church would indicate who was getting along — or not — with whom?
Such glimpses might not come anywhere close to revealing much of anything, but the interest was there.
It is still there, even in this year turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic, complete with the recommended abandonment of large family get-togethers — royal or otherwise — over the holidays.
Queen Elizabeth has decided she and Prince Philip will mark Christmas quietly at Windsor Castle — where they have been living in virtual isolation for most of the pandemic — rather than with the large family gathering that has taken place over Christmas at her Sandringham estate northeast of London for more than three decades.
New, stricter pandemic restrictions announced Saturday that cover the area around Windsor could mean further changes to any plans some members of the Royal Family may have had for Christmas Day.
“Under these restrictions, individuals may meet with one person from another household outdoors, and there will be interest in whether one of the Queen’s children or grandchildren meets with her outside Windsor Castle at Christmas in accordance with these requirements,” said Carolyn Harris, a Toronto-based royal historian and author.
Already there has been notable interest in another outdoor — and physically distanced — pre-Christmas meeting of some senior members of the family at Windsor Castle.
The Queen stood outside, well apart from William and Kate, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, as they thanked volunteers and workers from local charitable organizations.
It’s hardly the first time the Royal Family has altered its actions to accommodate the world around them.
“During times of crisis, the Royal Family adjusts their own routines to reflect the conditions experienced by the wider public,” said Harris.
In the Second World War, food was rationed at Buckingham Palace, even on formal occasions, when more modest meals were served to visitors — albeit still on the fancy china.
The announcement earlier this month of the Queen’s decision to mark Christmas quietly at Windsor Castle “just shows how … clear the palace [is] about understanding the nation, or particularly the Queen is, in her 95th year,” said British public relations expert Mark Borkowski, adding that the announcement was a further reflection of her ability to do “the right thing at the right time in the right way.”
Harris said public interest in royal Christmas celebrations mirrors the interest in royal weddings and births — they’re milestones that average people also experience and ones that could provide “a glimpse of more personal moments.”
That was seen this year, she said, when William and Kate took their children to see a Christmas pantomime, and there was public curiosity about how Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis responded to the performance, and how their parents explained the jokes to them.
Watching how the royals celebrate Christmas goes back several generations.
Some of the traditions they followed then found favour with the wider public, especially during the 19th-century reign of Queen Victoria, when her husband, Prince Albert, brought his own traditions from Germany, particularly the Christmas tree.
Christmas trees had been in use during previous royal Christmases, but the unprecedented expansion of that era’s mass media helped to spread the word about what the royals were doing in the festive season.
“An image in the London Illustrated News of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, their children and Queen Victoria’s mother gathered around the Christmas tree provided a famous image of the royal Christmas, which was widely admired and emulated,” said Harris.
In that instance, there was also some royal image management going on in an attempt to counter public perception of the monarchy at the time.
“After the scandalous reigns of Queen Victoria’s uncles, George IV and William IV, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were determined to demonstrate that the monarchy was once again respectable and mirrored the prevailing middle-class views of the importance of domesticity and the home as a refuge from the concerns of the wider world,” said Harris.
Ready for his shot
Prince Charles, who had COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic, says he will get a vaccination against the coronavirus.
But he’s not expecting his shot will come any time soon.
His comments came Thursday as he and Camilla toured a vaccination centre in western England and met front-line health-care workers administering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
“I think I’ll have to wait for the AstraZeneca one before it gets to my turn. I’m some way down the list,” Charles said, according to a report from ITV.
Speculation has swirled about whether or when his mother, the Queen, might also receive a coronavirus vaccine, with palace comments widely reported that she might let it be known once she and Prince Philip had received the shot.
Flash back more than six decades, to a time when the British government wanted members of the public to take another vaccine, and Elizabeth let it be known that Charles and his sister Anne had received shots to protect them against polio.
“As a result, public mood over the vaccine thawed and millions of others went on to take the drug, which the National Health Service said helped cases ‘fall dramatically,'” the Daily Express reported recently.
No formality here
When it comes time to declare another royal baby is on the way, the general modus operandi is a formal announcement from Buckingham Palace.
So it caught people’s attention and spawned headlines the other day when Mike Tindall, husband of the Queen’s granddaughter Zara Tindall, shared news via his sports podcast that they are expecting another child.
“Had a little scan last week, third Tindall on its way,” the former rugby player told the 150,000 weekly listeners of The Good, the Bad & the Rugby podcast.
“Z is very good … obviously always careful because of things that have happened in the past. But so far, so good. Fingers crossed. I’d like a boy this time. I’ve got two girls, I would like a boy. I will love it whether it’s a boy or a girl, but please be a boy,” he said, holding up those crossed fingers and waving in the podcast video.
“Things that have happened in the past” refers to two miscarriages Zara had between the birth of their elder daughter Mia, 6, and younger daughter, Lena, 2.
According to The Telegraph, the announcement was very much in keeping with the couple’s casual, down-to-earth manner, and their “reputation as the Royal Family’s most relatable couple.”
The baby will be the Queen’s 10th great-grandchild, and is the second royal birth expected in 2021. Princess Eugenie and her husband, Jack Brooksbank, are also expecting a child in the new year.
“You just disappeared, all of you.”
— Queen Elizabeth takes a technical glitch in stride during a virtual meeting with staff at the accounting giant KPMG, as it marked its 150th anniversary. The pandemic has led to numerous online firsts for the Queen, as she carries out duties remotely. Last week, she conducted her first diplomatic audience via a video call.
A three-day rail tour through the U.K. by William and Kate to meet and thank front-line pandemic workers ran into a lukewarm welcome in Scotland and Wales. [The Guardian]
Harry and Meghan will host and produce podcasts as part of a deal the couple, now living in California, have made with the streaming service Spotify. [BBC]
Netflix says it has “no plans” to include a disclaimer with The Crown to make it clear that the award-winning drama about Queen Elizabeth’s reign is a work of fiction. [Los Angeles Times]
Christmas means Christmas cards, often including a happy family photo from the past year. For their 2020 festive mailing, Charles and Camilla are relaxing in their garden at their home in Scotland, while William and Kate are all smiles with their kids at their country home northeast of London. [BBC]
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The last time Arthur Edwards took a photo of Prince Charles with Lord Louis Mountbatten, the heir to the throne had his arm around his great uncle. Similarly, Mountbatten had his arm around his great-nephew.
They both seemed to be in fine form that day, not too long before Mountbatten lost his life to an IRA bomb in the summer of 1979 off the coast of Ireland.
“They were laughing together,” Edwards, the longtime royal photographer for the Sun newspaper, recalled over the phone from the U.K. this week.
The recollection came to mind as controversy swirls over the newly released Season 4 of the Netflix drama The Crown.
The show takes viewers into the reign of Queen Elizabeth, with the latest season moving the action into the 1980s. In the first episode, Mountbatten is seen just before his assassination writing a letter to Charles saying he could bring “ruin and disappointment” on the Royal Family with his pursuit of Camilla Parker Bowles, who in real life is now Charles’s wife but at that time was married to someone else.
There’s no evidence — again, in real life — that such a letter was ever written or that Charles and Mountbatten quarrelled before he was killed.
WATCH | Why latest season of The Crown has sparked controversy:
Season 4 of The Crown has proven popular with viewers, but because it is based on relatively recent history it’s facing more criticism for distorting real-life events. 2:16
It’s just one of many moments in the latest season that have set off debate over how fact meets fiction in the award-winning drama created by Peter Morgan.
“Many people will think it’s the truth … but it’s not,” said Edwards, who snapped his first photo of Charles feeding sugar to his polo ponies in the mid-1970s, just after he’d left the Royal Navy.
“Much of it … comes out of a scriptwriter’s brain, which I can understand because … it’s drama.”
What bothers Edwards, he said, is the portrayal of Charles.
“I’ve worked with him now for over 40 years, and I don’t recognize that man in it.”
And therein lies a challenge of turning history into drama.
“Certainly, in every season [of The Crown], there’s a blend of fact and fiction, but it stands out in Season 4 because we are getting closer to the present day,” said Toronto-based royal historian and author Carolyn Harris.
Because so many in the audience will have their own memories of how what is portrayed in Season 4 turned out in real life — how Charles’s marriage to Diana, Princess of Wales, collapsed in spectacular fashion, for example — there is perhaps further potential for the controversy now swirling.
“It’s always a challenge with historical fiction that the people who are being portrayed do not know what’s going to happen next, but the audience … does,” said Harris.
In some instances, the episodes present events that played out in the public eye and reflect the historical record.
“An example is that engagement interview where Prince Charles famously said, ‘whatever in love means,'”said Harris.
But there are many other examples of events being fictionalized or put together to create a narrative.
WATCH | Josh O’Connor talks about becoming Prince Charles for The Crown:
British actor Josh O’Connor, who portrays the Prince of Wales in season four of Netflix’s The Crown, explains what it was like to examine the “human” side of the royal. 1:03
Take Michael Fagan’s break-in at Buckingham Palace, a focus of Episode 5. That actually happened, in 1982. He breached security and made it to the Queen’s bedroom, where he spoke to her.
“But Michael Fagan describes it as a very brief conversation before he was arrested, whereas for the purposes of the series, he has a more extended dialogue about [Prime Minister] Margaret Thatcher’s politics in order to tie this event to the series’s critique of political developments while [she] was prime minister,” said Harris.
Edwards worries, however, that people will believe The Crown’s version of what happened when Fagan broke into the palace that night, which isn’t true, with its portrayal of a longer chat with the Queen.
“That’s what really irritates me,” he said.
And he remains troubled by the thought that the portrayal of Charles, pilloried for a bad marriage, doesn’t reflect the driven and hard-working man he has seen up close, whether he is visiting and offering support to schoolgirls in northern Nigeria or the Jewish community in Krakow, Poland.
“You won’t see that on Netflix.”
Edwards went with Charles when he returned in 2015 to the site of Mountbatten’s assassination.
“I watched him … and he was remembering it.”
As aware as Edwards is of The Crown, he has stopped watching it.
“You’ve got to remember it’s drama; it’s not necessarily the whole truth.”
Just let loose and dance
Peter Morgan may be the creative mind behind The Crown, but in the current season, at least one moment playing out on the small screen came straight from the actor.
At one point, Diana — played by Emma Corrin — dances by herself with wild abandon inside a very well-appointed room at Buckingham Palace — or in this case, a stately home filling the role of the palace where Diana went to live after her engagement to Prince Charles was announced in 1981.
“It was one of my favourite scenes to film,” Corrin said in a recent interview with the Royal Fascinator.
“I loved it because they wanted to choreograph it, and I said, ‘Do you mind if we don’t … I don’t think we can choreograph a moment like that. I’d love to just let loose and dance.'”
So she did, and she chose the song that was blasting over the speakers during filming, a bit of musical time travel to 1998, and Cher’s Believe.
Corrin’s love for the song dates back a few years.
“There’s a theatre company in Britain called DV8, and they do this show called The Cost of Living, and there’s an amazing dance scene,” she said. “A guy does this dance to Cher’s … Believe…. It’s like the truest form of expression I’ve seen.”
In Corrin’s research for the role, she was surprised to learn how important dance was for Diana.
“It was quite a private thing,” said Corrin. “You see her dancing and what that does, how that is such a mode of expression and release, and I thought that was really interesting.”
Looking ahead — and looking back
Every so often over the past few years, there have been rumblings about whether Queen Elizabeth, now 94, might step aside from her role as she gets older.
And as soon as those rumblings emerge, other royal observers are quick to note how that is unlikely for a variety of reasons, including the dark shadow cast by her uncle’s abdication as King Edward VIII in 1936, her deep devotion to duty and how she has always considered her role as one for life.
So it wasn’t too surprising to see that scenario play out again in recent days when one royal biographer suggested Elizabeth might “step down” when she turns 95 next April.
But soon after, there was also a very strong signal from Buckingham Palace about looking ahead in her reign.
The first plans were announced for celebrations in 2022 to mark her Platinum Jubilee, or 70 years on the throne. It would be an unprecedented milestone — no British monarch has reigned as long as she has. In the United Kingdom, it will culminate in a four-day bank holiday weekend in early June.
Oliver Dowden, the British culture secretary, said it would be a “truly historic moment” worthy of a “celebration to remember,” the BBC reported.
Royals in Canada
While members of the Royal Family have made numerous trips to Canada over the years, The Crown hasn’t turned its dramatic attention to them yet, even though the show has featured several foreign visits.
“It’s a shame,” said royal historian Harris, because during Queen Elizabeth’s reign, “there have been some very interesting Canadian tours.”
Sure, there’s been a brief glimpse of a Canadian flag at a table during a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting portrayed in The Crown.
“But we don’t see Canada assuming a prominent role, whereas the series has had at least three tours of Australia,” Harris said.
One episode in the current Season 4 focuses on Charles and Diana’s 1983 trip Down Under. Shortly after that visit, Charles and Diana came to Canada. Had that been portrayed in The Crown, it would have backed up a developing theme, Harris said.
During the visit, Diana celebrated her 22nd birthday on Canada Day.
“There’s press footage of Canadians giving Charles birthday cards to give to Diana, and a scene like that would have supported the theme of that episode of Charles feeling overshadowed by Diana,” said Harris.
Edwards, the Sun photographer, was along for that trip, and has been to Canada about 15 times with members of the Royal Family.
WATCH | Charles and Diana’s 1983 Canadian visit takes them west:
Charles and Diana reach the last stop on their 1983 tour of Canada. 1:52
The 1983 trip lasted 17 days and was “fantastic,” he said. “It was just brilliant. I can recall it like it was yesterday. We criss-crossed the country.”
During the opening of the World University Games in Edmonton on July 1, the crowd sang Happy Birthday to Diana.
“The whole crowd. It was phenomenal,” said Edwards.
Harris sees potential plotting for future seasons of The Crown possibly playing into how the series has portrayed foreign visits so far.
“We see a stronger Australia focus, and it’s certainly possible that the 1999 Australian referendum [on the monarchy] may come up in a subsequent season so some of this may be building towards that.
“But definitely in terms of the Commonwealth, certain nations are emphasized more than others in the series.”
“Let us reflect on all that we have been through together and all that we have learned. Let us remember all victims of war, tyranny and persecution; those who laid down their lives for the freedoms we cherish; and those who struggle for these freedoms to this day.”
— Prince Charles, during a visit to Germany to attend events commemorating its national day of mourning, which focused on British-German relations this year.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary on Friday, and a photo was released of them reading a card from their great-grandchildren. [CBC]
In a rare statement, Prince William has said he welcomes an investigation by the BBC into circumstances around the controversial Panorama interview his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, gave to Martin Bashir in 1995. [CBC]