New King Charles photo confirms the Palace’s biggest fear about Kate Middleton

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I don’t particularly know my Bible but if memory serves, it was on Easter Sunday that Jesus yawned and rolled back that rock, thus giving the world history’s first great comeback story.

Here’s another. According to the Telegraph, ahead of King Charles’ carefully stage-managed and plotted-out return to public duties on, when else, Easter Sunday, jokes about “he is risen’’ have been flying about London.

While Jesus and Charles might share a yen for woodworking and extensive inner contemplation, there the comparisons stop.

On Easter Sunday, Nazareth’s most famous son might have performed quite the miracle (though the water-into-wine one would be far handier, even more so if he could do a nice chilled Chablis) but His Majesty has not.

Instead, the royal family’s annual rolling up for the Easter Sunday service at St George’s Chapel in Windsor, all done in full media and public view, has proven to be a bust. (Much like Pontius Pilot’s performance review the year of the rock incident.)

The pictures from the royal outing are woeful and confirm perhaps the deepest and most abiding fears about the future of Crown Inc.

The withdrawal of Kate the Princess of Wales from public royal life has not so much left a vacuum as a great gaping black hole.

The Easter Sunday service was the first major royal outing since she revealed that she is being treated for cancer and the first major hat-required to do that she and husband Prince William the Prince of Wales have therefore missed. (Them and their trio of certifiable poppets.)

While royal sources might have been busy briefing about what a hip-hip-hooray success letting Charles, who is also being treated for cancer, outside to shake hands 56 times (really) and to look into the whites of the eyes of people who have paid council rates, the most important takeaway here has nothing to do with a 75-year-old staying upright for an hour.

It’s that the Waleses, and most especially Kate, are not just truly fundamental to the future of the monarchy, They. Are. Everything.

The royal family attending St George’s this weekend must surely go down as one of the dreariest outings to ever grace the Court Circular since Prince Edward was dispatched to open a roundabout in Milton Keynes and forced to travel by second class rail pass.

Arriving at the Chapel it was a grimly plain and small group of Windsors that turned up, all, aside from the teenage Earl of Wessex, over the age of 60-years-old.

When Princess Anne’s mint green coat is doing double-time to add some colour and zip to proceedings, one of those whoop-whoop alarms normally reserved for power station disasters should be flashing somewhere deep in the bowels of Buckingham Palace.

It was not just the Waleses who were not at the service. Last year’s same event saw a number of the younger members, including Mike and Zara Tindall and their daughters Lena and Mia, Princess Beatrice and dreamboat husband Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, and Peter Phillips, join William and Kate (staying well clear of toxic no-hoper Prince Andrew). Hello fresh-faced future of the royal family!

In 2023, faster than a royal writer could type, people were banging on about the symbolism of it all, of the unity and the strength of the House of Windsor out in force for their first Easter after the death of the late Queen. (And post a certain Californian duke having published a memoir and made brooding into a one-man cottage industry.)

The disparity between last year’s Easter showing and this year’s depleted sad sack one is enough to depress even the most ebullient of diehard commemorative royal tea spoon collectors.

What Sunday’s reappearance of His Majesty proves is that sure, he might get to sit on the actual throne but unfortunately he has all the natural star quality of a cheery, well-meaning shopping centre Santa.

Her late Majesty came with a certain Sphinx-like quality of the eternally enigmatic, the unknowable, the untouchable, the late Queen’s aura of majesty an antidote to a life measured out in coffee spoons.

The only person left on the palace’s books who can boast the same is Kate who has that indefinable, je ne sai quoi. Without the Princess of Wales, the royal family just seems like a diminished bunch of do-gooding, plain sorts stuffed to the gunnels with Victoria Sponge and covered in dog hair.

Without the prince and princess, backed up by the sort of chorus of cousins we have seen, what remains is a picture so determinedly lacklustre you should not be allowed to look at it before operating heavy machinery.

Oscar Wilde wrote, “when the gods want to punish us they answer our prayers” and clearly some higher power was listening when Charles, years and years ago, got down on his knees before bed and asked for a sleeker, slimmer royal family.

However instead of the efficient, visionary outfit the King might have envisaged, what His Majesty has ended up with is a clutch of dependable triers who look like people who buy corn pads in bulk.

Don’t get me wrong here – I think Anne and Sophie are bloody marvellous. But do they have sizzle? The X factor? Star quality? Not if they bought in by the bucketload and slathered it on with a trowel.

If you read the UK press today you would be forgiven for thinking that the King has done a bit of walking-on-water himself and that him attending the Easter service is proof that things are looking peachy for Crown Inc. Of course it’s great that the King felt up (and was given the green light by his doctors) to do something more taxing than accepting the credentials of the new Moldovan ambassador, as he actually did this week.

But the monarchy without Kate (and to a lesser degree and William and the York gals and the larking Tindalls and all-jaw-Peter) has lost its incredible gravitational pull and lustre and that mysterious quality that makes rational people part with their hard-earned cash to buy tins of English toffee with her face slapped on the front.

Without the princess, the King and co. just look like people. Quotidian and unremarkable and dangerously mundane.

What Kate has done is, accidentally, unmasked the royal family, like Clarke Kent whipping his glasses off. The Emperor has no clothes and Charles, on his own, will struggle to ever really shift a lot of palace gift shop tea towels or save the monarchy.

Daniela Elser is a writer, editor and a royal commentator with more than 15 years’ experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media titles.

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