Monday, June 01, 2009


Today, Monday, is a public holiday here in NZ and to mark the occasion the Sunday Star Times yesterday ran a story on the Queen’s grandsons under the heading Reluctant Royalty. The story written by Guardian feature writer Patrick Barkham originally appeared in The Guardian.
The future of the royal family sits squarely on the shoulders of William and Harry, but they both loathe the limelight. Does the palace have a serious problem on its hands? Patrick Barkham goes behind the scenes to find out.
The air in Berkeley Square smelled of sweet, expensive cigars. Around the corner from the Rolls-Royce showroom, a well-heeled art gallery was full of well-heeled white people, flushed pink with the thrill of proximity to royalty. Prince William was flushed too, in a way that recalled his mother, and his adam's apple bobbed as one of Diana's old friends, Julia Samuel, spoke of the Princess of Wales's "outrageous laugh". Then, hovering at the bottom of the small gallery's staircase, the 26-year-old prince marked his decision to become the patron of the Child Bereavement Charity, which his mother helped launch, with a short and unexpected speech.
For the first time, the heir to the throne talked publicly about his loss, and the "emptiness" he felt on Mother's Day. If his words sounded posh - "Never being able to say the word 'Mummy' again in your life sounds like a small thing. However for many, including me, it's now really just a word: hollow and evoking only memories" - they were also moving and unusually personal.
This two-minute address to a room of barely 50 people, and only three journalists, may come to be seen as a defining moment in the adult life of Prince William. In part it heralded the start of a new charm offensive, a flurry of visits that were the defensive prod of royal spin doctors against a documentary accusing William of being lazy compared with his father, Charles. But William's personal revelations also represented a direct engagement with the legacy of his mother: the first reluctant steps of a young prince who must be found a meaningful public role and hopes, perhaps, to base it on his mother's charitable work.

The House of Windsor's two greatest assets - William and his brother, Harry - stand at a peculiarly vulnerable point in their lives. They are also in an historically unique position. The old deference in British society is weakening as citizens demand value for money and transparency from politicians and monarchy alike; never before has there been a Prince of Wales as old as Charles, the longest-serving heir; and never before have two young princes had to accommodate such a rampantly pervasive mass media which they, more than any other young royals, have good cause to loathe.
So what role should the young princes take? Can they modernise the monarchy? And what is best for them personally, as young men? How they, and their staff, answer these questions will go a long way to determining the future of our royal family .
To read the full story link here.

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