Who's Your Favourite Royal?
“Are you Team William &Kate or Team Harry & Meghan, or both?” This is a question I have recently been asking my tour clients. Taking advantage of being able to guide outdoors, I have recently launched a tour that walks through Hyde Park and the Kensington area. When we arrive at the outside of Kensington Palace, this question always comes up. It is important for me to know which side my client’s are on, so that I can tailor the information I give to their interests.
I don’t think there has to be a side, but it is always good to understand where their interests/loyalties lie. I recently had a couple from Manchester, and they were definitely fans of William and Kate over Harry and Meghan. “I just don’t agree with what he has done,” said the man. I asked, “Did you like them before they moved?” and his answer was, “Yes, I had no problem with them before that.”
One question I would get from American clients when Harry and Meghan got married was “What do the British think of Meghan?” It was a hard question to answer, because while I hadn’t heard any negativity at the time (this was pre-wedding), I had heard a rumour that palace staff had given her the nickname “Starter Marriage”, and there were bets on how long it might last. That’s simply despicable.
I have always been a fan of the royal family, and with my job as a London tour guide, it is important that I keep up with them so that I can talk about them on tours. America has the Kardashians, I have the Windsors. I must admit, when they mess up or do something embarrassing, it trickles down and hurts the tour industry. The royal family are a draw for tourists, and when the Queen dies, this will be less.
I personally am a fan of both Kate and Meghan. I remember when Kate had to endure negative press because England still clings on to a slanted and outdated class system, and she was considered “common”. For all she has to deal with, she is doing a rather good job. There are moments when I think “she’s too perfect, where are the flaws”, because we are all human and it would be nice to see a hiccup every now and then.
Not long after Meghan and Harry returned from their honeymoon, I was asked by a tourist what I thought of her. My exact response was, “We haven’t seen her in too many appearances, and when we do, she is always wearing black. I can imagine that as an American, it is hard to adjust from having lots of freedom to living a rigid schedule. But wearing all black is a sign of depression, and I hope she is ok.” Those were my words, and now we know that she wasn’t. I remember reading the headlines of the newspapers regarding the avocados and thinking, “Why are they saying that eating avocados is a bad thing with Meghan, when it was fine for Kate to eat them?” Also, when Meghan got out of a car and shut the door, the headlines read “Not really a royal” and claimed that if she was a real royal, she would have let someone else shut the door. Really? Insert eye roll now. In my opinion, Harry and Meghan leaving for California is a storm in a teacup, and appears to be the best thing for them.
On my tour, the Manchurian couple asked me, “What do you think of Andrew?” I took a big breath. “I don’t understand why they are sweeping this under the rug. They need to make him talk. It’s hard, because growing up I thought he was the cute one. It turns my stomach, and there's just too much guilt there, he needs to spill the beans and stop being protected by the royals.” The couple agreed, they also thought he was guilty, and that he could implicate so many other people in the process, but he just hasn’t. I have yet to meet someone who thinks he is innocent.
Our subject turned to Prince Edward and Sophie, whom we both agreed were very good stand-in royals that were taking up the slack in a very classy way. Sophie seems really down to Earth, and rumours all indicate she and the Queen are very close. She was once photographed with a handbag that had an inscription on it which read: "I'm not saying I am Wonder Woman, I'm just saying we have never been in the same room together." If this is an indication of her personality, I think this means she is fun and hardworking. It is hard to not like that.
While I like to keep up with Beatrice and Eugenie, the couple were not so keen. They especially didn’t care for Sarah Ferguson, whom they thought was an embarrassment to the family. While she has done some pretty outlandish things, she has also attempted to redeem with some of her recent works. I loved both Eugenie and Beatrice's wedding dresses, I saw them both when they were on display at Windsor Castle. I think Beatrice has won the best dressed bride award for a century.
As we walked towards the Princess Diana statue in the Sunken Garden of Kensington Palace, the wife mentioned that she was not a fan of Camilla. I suppose this is the general opinion of the British, many are still not ready to accept her. I have read up on Camilla, and she has done some great work with her osteoporosis charity and others, but she keeps all of her work out of the press. A colleague of mine said of Camilla, “She has two loves: Charles and cigarettes.” Once Prince Charles becomes King, she is due to take the title of Princess Consort, not Queen. This is to appease the public.
One royal not always mentioned is Princess Anne, the hardest working royal in the family. Prince Phillip called her “the son I never had.” She is dreadfully busy, always under the radar, and I seem to bump into her a few times each year in some strange fashion. Once, I was giving a tour, and a car pulled up, she got out of the car, and walked into the church I was about to pass with my group. Many times, she has driven by my group on The Mall. At a behind-the-scenes tour of the Royal Guards, I held a sword with the tag “Princess Anne, do not lend out”.
Kensington Palace is home to not only William, Kate and their three children, but also the Duke & Duchess of Kent and Duke & Duchess of Gloucester. Low key, they occasionally appear at royal events and spark the question “Who are they?” The Queen has lots of cousins, and they all have royal titles. King George V and Queen Mary had five sons and one daughter, and they all got royal titles. (Edward VIII and George VI being two of their sons) The children of these royals also got titles, which is something that seems to be curbed in the modern monarchy. If we were to time travel back to the 1930s, it is no doubt that Archie and Lilibet would have titles, along with Zara and the other royals who do not currently hold one.
While everyone is keen to watch The Crown and try to understand the royals, I often like to recommend watching The Windsors. It is a satirical look at the royal family, with brilliant performances to mock and personify the traits of the members of the royal family. Don’t judge me for enjoying this, Prince William himself is a big fan!