Prince William set to leave Kate Middleton behind

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The last few years have been a real eye opener about who Kate the Princess Wales, actual human woman with hopes, fears and an Amazon Prime account, really is. She is a person who loves wild swimming, “the colder the better,”, plays beer pong and has the Photoshopping skills of a shortsighted retiree undertaking a night class under sufferance.

The latest Kate detail to wend its way into the public arena – that last year she, husband Prince William, their children, their security team and nanny (I’m assuming), travelled to the French ski town of Méribel for a secret holiday with sister Pippa Matthews. (The families enjoyed, according to the Times, “cosy apres-ski lunches together hidden in the snowy forest” which sounds like a scene out of Hans Christian Andersen if he wrote for Tatler.)

Now, William is set to return to the Continent for reasons that go beyond filling up the cargo space on an RAF flight with decent Burgundy and crates of La Roche-Posay.

The coming months will see the prince take a starring role on the royal stage, including a milestone trip to France – all without Kate.

With two words in her history-making (and history- shaking) video last month – “preventive chemotherapy” – the princess wiped every carefully planned away day and charity selfie-a-thon of 2024 off the board. (And damned right too.)

What that means is that Crown Inc. is about to go into its busiest season – the spring and summer months, which usually see Kate out in floral, Emilia Wickstead-clad force -with William flying depressingly solo, at home and abroad.

In a normal year, May, June and July would see Kate really give us our heady annual dose of princessing. Any other year, about now, she would be gearing up for the Chelsea Flower Show, Wimbledon, Trooping the Colour, the Order of the Garter parade at Windsor Castle, Royal Ascot, and the usual round of Buckingham Palace garden parties.

Those blogs and writers devoted to chronicling her every pair of moderately priced beaded earrings incongruously paired with eye-wateringly expensive designer frockery would be in clover. Hemlines and hattery and pearls, oh my!

2024 was set to be an even bigger year on this front with June this year also set to see a contingent of senior royal family members descending on Normandy for the 80th anniversary commemoration of the D-Day landings.

To give you a sense of how significant a deal this event is, already, Buckingham Palace is making noises about King Charles attending even though he too is being treated for cancer. For His Majesty’s first public appearance in months on Easter Sunday, that reportedly required careful planning and he was seated “slightly apart” from the congregation inside St George’s Chapel. An overseas trip – the flight, the hotel, being around all those coughing, germy people – are another level altogether.

However, currently, the only member of the Haus of Windsor guaranteed to be in Normandy is, who else, but William, with the Telegraph reporting that honouring the incredible service of D-Day veterans is “very important” to the prince.

It was not that long ago that Kate also looked like a lock for the D-Day event and I have no doubt that in some London milliner’s storeroom some incredible piece, crafted for this very outing, is languishing in a hatbox.

Whether the King is there or not, the image of William taking his place on the world stage for an event that will include Presidents and Prime Ministers by the dozen will be something of a watershed moment after years of the Waleses working as a well-oiled unit for official and State occasions.

For the past 13 years, since the Waleses wedding, the prince has been able to generally depend on his wife to be by his side as he has increased his public role and began the gradual, irrevocable trudge towards the throne. This year will be an entirely different matter.

The past decade and change, Kate’s pregnancies and maternity leaves have at times necessitated William undertaking key engagements and official outings on his lonesome. Except, those one-man-HRH-band outings happened in a fug of public jubilation and warm fuzzy feelings given the arrival of a squidgy new ball of royal joy.

The other difference with those the three years that the princess got to do her patented Lindo Wing routine is that Crown Inc. was going full pelt with the late Queen still adroitly running the show and Prince Harry and Meghan the Duke and Duchess of Sussex having ensorcelled a swooning public.

I don’t need to tell you that the royal world looks diabolically different today.

What lies ahead is Just William having to do his Sombre, Dignified Statesman routine on his tod for decidedly tough personal reasons. The prince is now staring down a series of high pressure and high profile events without the ballast and support of his good lady wife and her hat of the day.

The late Queen famously called Prince Philip her “strength and stay”, a phrase that feels entirely appropriate for the Waleses. William is out to embark on balancing months of events and bearing up under Duty with his “strength” forced to stay at home.

Currently the Wales family are in Norfolk at their ten-bedder weekender, Anmer Hall, a wedding gift from the late Queen, a present that definitely trumped her other idea, a toaster with a crumpet setting. However, come April 17, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis will be starting the new term at their Windsor school, Lambrook thus signalling William’s return to work.

The world is going to have to get very used to seeing William sans Kate as he continues on, carries the can, and holds down the fort while his other (and many would say better) half undergoes treatment.

Making this all the more pressured for the prince is the big question mark hanging over the King’s attendance, not only in Normandy but also the degree to which he will be able to participate in Trooping the Colour this year. (One option reportedly being considered is for His Majesty to travel via carriage unlike last year when he rode.)

Yes, yes, Camilla will be there too but aside from myself and the other seven fully paid-up members of her fan club, a 76-year-old who looks like she knows how to wring the neck of a pheasant, is not exactly bringing the royal star dust. Natural leading lady who can really bring the razzle dazzle, Her Majesty is not.

So let us all prepare for the Just William months – all dark navy blazers, no sizzle – and let us all spare a thought for the UK’s hatmakers who face a barren, dark period ahead. Thoughts and prayers. Thoughts and prayers.

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.

Read related topics:Kate MiddletonPrince William

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