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Duke and Duchess of Susswith ex reveal 2019 Christmas card, Archie taking centre stage

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have released their 2019 Christmas card, featuring their young son Archie.  The card, which was sent to friends and colleagues on Monday, includes a picture of the Duke and Duchess with their seven-month-old son crawling towards the camera with the message “Merry Christmas and a happy new year”, adding “from our family to yours”.

The photo was reportedly taken by the Duchess’ friend Janina Gavankar, an American actress and musician, who attended the couple’s Windsor Castle wedding in May 2018. The card was released on Twitter by the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust Twitter account, along with the caption: “Just sharing the sweetest Christmas Card from our President and Vice-President, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Very Merry Christmas, everyone!”

The family of three are currently on a six week sabbatical in Canada, where the Duchess filmed the US series Suits, and will not join other senior royals at Sandringham for Christmas.

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Harry and Meghan’s Sussex title was ‘unfairly acquired’ and should be ignored, Brighton and Hove council to consider.

The Sussex title held by Harry and Meghan was “unfairly acquired” and should be ignored, a bizarre debate due to come before Brighton and Hove council will hear on Thursday. Councillors are expected to consider a petition demanding the local authority boycotts the Royal couple’s title after thousands of people supported the cause online. Written on behalf of “residents of Brighton and Hove”, it calls on the council to reject “the usage” of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex title, which is “disrespectful to the county of East Sussex”. The Dukedom held by Harry is said to be “entirely non-democratic” and “symbolic of the oppression of the general public by the wealthy elite”.

After a meteoric rise, the petition has become the third most-supported online in the council’s history, with 3,800 signatures. But it is a political crusade of somewhat unlikely origins. Charles Ross, the 54-year-old steward behind the campaign, admitted he had set it up when he was “bored” and expressed surprise it was now the focus of a political debate.  Any petition with more than 1,250 signatures must be debated by the full council under internal rules – a figure that Mr Ross’s petition has more than tripled. It is to be the fifth item on the agenda when Brighton and Hove City Council meet at 4.30pm and will include a three-minute speech automatically granted to the principal petitioner. Mr Ross told The Daily Telegraph: “I have been a long-standing republican, but I didn’t particularly take up the cause – I think I was bored one evening, if you want me to be honest. “I started a petition and I didn’t realise what a ball I would start rolling.”

Despite now being the figurehead of an apparent republican uprising on the south coast, Mr Ross admitted he had no links to political or campaigning groups on the issue. “I literally did it off my own back,” he said. It is understood no politicians were required to sponsor the petition for it to be debated and Mr Ross has not been contacted directly by the council about its contents. He joked: “I imagine they are probably keeping their heads down.”  Outlining what his address to the council chamber might contain, he continued: “Basically I will be espousing the fact that if politicians believe in a free society then they should not be according special privileges to people that have inherited titles. “My point is that I’ve got nothing against Harry and Meghan personally.” Other less impressed residents of Sussex have called into question the wisdom of the council in choosing to stage such a debate. The petition was condemned online as an “embarrassment”, a “waste of time”, with one Twitter user suggesting  “the guy starting the petition needs to grow up”. Thomas Mace-Archer-Mills, founder of the British Monarchists Society, went as far as to claim the petition was indicative of a troubling rebel movement brewing in the region. He said: “We are utterly dismayed that said petition has been signed by so many. “This certainly highlights that Brighton and Hove is a hotbed of Republican dissidents and is now proven to be so. “Brighton and Hove should not pander to minority treachery and should not further entertain such a petition as proposed.” But Mr Ross remained resolute. He said: “I think if (the council) are fair and reasonable, they should act upon it – if they truly hold to people’s democracy they should follow through. “But I have my doubts that they will.”

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Famous friends rally to support Duke and Duchess of Sussex: ‘All they’re trying to do is make the world better’

Prince Harry and Meghan at the premiere of The Lion King

Famous friends of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have rallied to their defence following accusations of hypocrisy over their use of private jets, saying the couple are just “trying to make the world better”. American talk show host Ellen Degeneres, who has recently visited the Duke and Duchess, and pop star Pink both issued statements lamenting the “public form of bullying” endured by the couple, after details of their holidays to Ibiza and Nice emerged. It is the latest of the high-profile support for the Duke and Duchess, whose circle of celebrity friends are increasingly using interviews and social media to act as unofficial spokespeople to protect the couple from what they view as “attacks”. On Monday, Sir Elton John claimed the Duke and Duchess had been subject to “relentless and untrue assassinations” after being photographed with their baby son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor boarding a private jet to his home in the south of France. The images led to accusations of hypocrisy for the Duke, who weeks earlier had flown to Google Camp to deliver a lecture on the environment and published an interview warning of climate change: “We are the frog in the water and it’s already been brought to the boil”.

He and the Duchess are reported to have undertaken at least four flights by private jet on holidays to Ibiza and Nice this month. Sir Elton said he had arranged the latest trip because the Sussexes needed the “safety and tranquility” offered by his villa on the French Riviera, and had made “an appropriate contribution” to a company that specialises in offsetting carbon emissions. Now, Ellen DeGeneres, a comedian and talkshow host who has worked with the Duke on elephant conservation, added to the A-list voices defending the couple. In a post on Instagram, mentioning her wife, she said: “Portia and I met Prince Harry and Meghan in England to talk about their work on wildlife conservation. “They were the most down-to-earth, compassionate people.  “Imagine being attacked for everything you do, when all you’re trying to do is make the world better.” Pink, an American singer whose links to the Royal couple have not been made public, said: “I’m happy to see people coming to the defense of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

“The way people treat her is the most public form of bullying I have seen in a while. It’s out of control. Let’s all be a bit kinder, huh? “Let’s show our children that it’s cool to be kind.” Between them, the three celebrities have a Twitter following of 111 million, with a further 83m people watching on Instagram. DeGeneres’ following alone, of 78.3m on Twitter and 76m on Instagram, dwarfs both the Royal Family’s main official social media accounts – 4m on Twitter – or the SussexRoyal Instagram page at 9.3m. The wisdom of Sir Elton’s intervention has been questioned after it sent the story of the private jet global, elevating it to a spectrum of British newspaper front pages, television and radio. Some were left concerned that the support of multi-millionaire celebrities would not win over the couple’s critics, adding to the confusion over their difficult dual role as global stars and working members of a Royal Family whose activities are funded in part by the taxpayer.

The celebrity PR blitz is understood to have unfolded without the knowledge of staff in the royal household, and is not part of an official communications strategy. It will likely be welcomed by the Duke and Duchess, who have become frustrated at their recent portrayal in the media and the restrictions placed upon them as members of the Royal Family. While the couple have a communications team based at Buckingham Palace, aides are bound to issue factual statements rather than speak on record about the Sussexes more abstract personal attributes or good intentions. Instead, the Duke and Duchess have increasingly forged their own methods of communication, writing lengthy Instagram captions giving away “behind the scenes” information about who they have met and publishing personal photographs.

The Duchess’s recent project to guest edit British Vogue gave her a platform of hundreds of pages to share her world view unencumbered by outside scrutiny. The Sussexes have previously received the support of George Clooney,the actor, who claimed the then-pregnant Duchess had been “pursued and vilified” during her New York baby shower, and said of media coverage: “It seemed to me to be a little unjust since she hadn’t done anything except just happen to live her life.” Gayle King, a broadcaster and best friend of Oprah Winfrey who attended the Duchess’ baby shower and visited her at Frogmore, regularly speaks up for her on American television. The BBC’s fact-checking team have calculated that the Duke and Duchess’s two return flights by private jet would have created 37.6 tonnes of CO2: “more than six times an average Briton’s yearly emissions, or 111 times those of a person in Lesotho”.

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Harry and Meghan to ‘split’ from charity foundation shared with Cambridges

Princes William and Harry and their wives are to work together on ‘one off’ charitable projects, amid mounting specu-lation the Sussexes are to split from the foundation the couples set up together. In a sign of a further distancing between the two royal households Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, are set to work on their own separate projects, while occasionally coming together for shared initiatives. It comes after it was announced the two households of the Sussexes and Cambridges are to be run separately, following Prince Harry and Meghan’s move of their family home from Kensington Palace to Windsor. The separation of the two households led to a review of the way the Royal Foundation, launched in 2009, operates, with an announcement expected later this month [June]. But palace sources have indicated that both couples are set to go their own way when pursuing their philanthropic and social activism interests. A source said: “They are all excited about what the future holds for what they can achieve with their charitable activity. “But they are also looking forward to working together on big one off projects such as mental health issues.” When the Royal Foundation charity was set up by Prince William and Prince Harry in 2009 it was heralded as a sign of the close emotional and working relationship between the two brothers. With their two wives coming on board over the following years the foundation became one of the most glamorous organisations in the charitable sector. Last year ‘the Fab Four’, as they were known to their fans, attended a Q&A forum about their work under the slogan Making A Difference Together. During the session Tina Daheley, the host, asked if they ever had disagreements. William replied “Oh yes”. When she Daheley asked how they resolved their last disagreement, the princes responded: “Is it resolved? We don’t know!” Prince Harry added: “It’s really good we’ve got four different personalities and we’ve all got that same passion to want to make a difference. Those different opinions work really well.” But it is now understood that the two royal couples have different ideas about what causes to focus on and how to pursue them, with one source telling The Sun: “Meghan and Harry want to do things differently to William and Kate.” A board meeting on June 19 is expected to confirm that the Royal Foundation members will split. Its work revolves around six main themes of mental health, wildlife conservation, young people and the welfare of the armed forces and their families. A spokesman for the foundation said: “The work to prepare both couples for their future roles will of course have implications for how they manage their charitable and philanthropic activity into the future. “We are not going to prejudge the outcome of the review, but we will be able to announce it publicly once all aspects are concluded.” The spokesman added: “The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are committed to the work they are carrying out through The Royal Foundation and are proud of what they have achieved together.”

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Baby Archie Harrison: Duke and Duchess of Sussex announce royal baby boy’s name – but no title

After months of speculation about the royal baby’s name – we finally have the answer. The Duke and Duchess’ boy is called Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. But the newborn will not be given a courtesy title after his parents decided they would like him to be known simply as Archie. The baby will have the title “master” for formal correspondence while a child, instead of being an earl or a lord. The Sussexes could have chosen to give him the title of Earl of Dumbarton, one of the Duke’s subsidiary titles available to his firstborn boy. They could also have opted for Lord Archie Mountbatten-Windsor to ensure gender equality with any future sister. But he will be known as Master Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex take their first steps toward giving the seventh-in-line to the throne the most normal upbringing they can muster.

Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor is introduced to the world for the first timeA spokesman for Buckingham Palace said that, while there were titles that Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Sussex could apply to their son, “they have chosen not to give him a courtesy title at this time”. This could be revisited when the Prince of Wales one day becomes king, under a 1917 convention allowing the grandchildren of the monarch to be known as HRH Prince or Princess. He will also be entitled to succeed Prince Harry as the Duke of Sussex. The Duke and Duchess’s decision is understood to be their own, with the Queen happy to allow them free choice over their children’s names. The Duke has previously spoken frankly about the difficulties he experienced while growing up as a member of the Royal family, with the title carrying responsibility as well as rights.

In 2015, he disclosed he had once felt so disillusioned he “wanted out”, considering giving up his title before conceding he could use it for good. Being in the Army as Captain Wales or simply “Harry”, he has said, was the “best escape I’ve ever had”. He has since appeared to embrace the benefits of his royal platform, using his position to further an array of charitable causes on the world stage. The Sussexes’ decision also reflects the choice made by Prince Harry’s aunt, the Princess Royal, whose children were known from birth as Peter and Zara Phillips. Zara, now Mrs Tindall, has embraced the freedom, which has required her and her brother to forge their own professional paths and enabled her to earn a living via sponsorship as a sportswoman. “I’ve been very lucky,” she has said in an interview. “My parents didn’t give us titles so we’ve been able to have a slightly more normal upbringing. “As soon as you’ve got a title, it’s difficult to shed it. My brother and I have been very lucky like that, being able to find our own way.”

As Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, Baby Sussex is free to do the same, joining his parents on the global platform they have cultivated. By actively announcing the decision to eschew all titles, the Duke and Duchess have also neatly avoided the inevitable comparisons with the Cambridge children, who were all named HRH Prince or Princess at birth. Some had feared the Earl of Dumbarton title would prove confusing for fans of the Sussexes around the world, who could perceive it as a snub owing to the disparity in rank. While unlikely to have been a primary consideration for the couple, the lack of a traditional British title will also serve to simplify matters for the American media which already persists in referring to “Duchess Meghan” and may have used “Earl Archie” for ease. The Duke of Edinburgh, who met Archie at Windsor Castle on Wednesday, may have been pleased to learn that he is taking the surname Mountbatten-Windsor after he famously insisted his descendants bear the family name. He joins Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor, the daughter of the Earl and Countess of Wessex, in the style. Penny Junor, a royal biographer, said: “It’s exactly what I would have expected from Harry. He would have dearly liked to have been a normal boy growing up and found his title very difficult.”

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Royal baby Sussex: Harry’s reaction was unbuttoned, excited and gloriously himself. I know he will make a wonderful father

It was just after 2pm when the “It’s a Boy” announcement came on Instagram, swiftly followed by a beaming Prince Harry speaking to cameras outside some stables near Windsor Castle. It was classic Harry: unbuttoned, excited, gloriously himself. No formalities here. He was almost boyish himself in his enthusiasm, and here was a reminder of why the public love him so much, why we feel so invested in his story. “I’m very excited to announce that Meghan and myself had a baby boy earlier this morning, a very healthy boy.” His happiness almost radiated through the TV. “Mother and baby are doing incredibly well. It’s been the most amazing experience I could ever have possibly imagined.” And then came the moment that cemented his position as prince of all our hearts – the recognition of the awesomeness and amazingness of childbirth. “How any woman does what they do is beyond comprehension,” he almost gasped. “But we’re both absolutely thrilled and so grateful to all the love and support from everybody out there. It’s been amazing, so we just wanted to share this with everybody… “As every father and parent will ever say, you know, your baby is absolutely amazing, but this little thing is absolutely to-die-for, so I’m just over the moon.” The television and radio talk shows had frothed themselves into a rage in the last week, caterwauling about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s insistence on having a private birth, as if this might mean we wouldn’t get news of the new baby until it set off for university at 18.

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Welcome to Frogmore Cottage, Meghan: a locals’ guide to fitting in with the Thames Valley Toffs

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are just days away from welcoming their first child and they have now moved into their new home, Frogmore Cottage, on the grounds of the Windsor Estate. Here we look at what life will be like for Harry and Meghan as they start their new life in Berkshire with royal baby Sussex. So, the Sussexes have made the Big Move out of London. Whether this is a result of the rumoured froideur with the Cambridges, or simply that they want more space, it is only natural for the newlyweds to want to do their own thing – this is, after all, exactly what Wills and Kate did when they shot off to Amner Hall, their Queen Anne country house in Norfolk, following the birth of Prince George. The Sussexes have made a very different lifestyle choice, however, by opting to settle in the Stockbroker Belt, only an hour from Kensington Palace, where both are keeping offices.

The move to the Thames Valley is perhaps more forward thinking than fleeing to the provinces: Meghan and Harry could make Frogmore Cottage their forever home, commuting to their day jobs and never needing to uproot again. Not only is the area blissfully accessible but they also have connections to it – Harry boarded at Ludgrove in nearby Wokingham from the age of eight and then at Eton, just across the river. And of course, the pair had their engagement photos taken in Frogmore’s grounds, returning there for their wedding reception, after the ceremony at Windsor Castle. Sue Barnes of Lavender Green Flowers, a Windsor local who regularly does the flowers at events at the Royal palaces, believes the area is the perfect fit for the Sussexes. “Windsor is the most homely of all the Royal palaces, and people here feel hugely protective over the family,” she says. “They will be well looked after.” Plus, this part of Berkshire offers the best of everything, she adds. “When you’ve spent a day in the Big Smoke, it really feels like coming home – you can pull up the drawbridge and enjoy being together.” Which is, presumably, precisely what the Duke and Duchess are planning to do.

The house

Frogmore Cottage sounds decidedly modest – which it is, compared to Amner Hall, which has a swimming pool, tennis court and 10 bedrooms. Yet Harry and Meghan’s new digs – originally a gardener’s cottage and then used to house Queen Charlotte’s unmarried daughters – are a considerable notch up from Nottingham Cottage, where they’ve been housed at KP. Set in complete privacy in the undulating landscape of Frogmore Park, itself part of the Norman hunting forest of Windsor Great Park, Harry and Meghan will be able to enjoy more privacy than they have ever had in London. The cottage is white-painted and gabled, with an understated “private” sign on the gate; and now that the Sussexes have souped it up, it is a modern family home with at least five bedrooms and all the usual Home Counties creature comforts, such as open plan living spaces, a wine cellar and gym – and, of course, a nursery large enough to house all Baby Sussex’s official gifts (Prince George received 774). The couple is also rumoured to be creating a granny annexe for Meghan’s mother, Doria, who is expected to make regular visits from America once her grandchild arrives.

The locale

Outside the Arcadian tranquility of the Frogmore Estate, the Windsor area is awash with fancy hotels, golf courses and polo clubs – perfect for Harry, who is no longer allowed to participate in field sports. This corner of Berkshire is not dissimilar, according to Barnes, from the Cattle graze on the Queen's Windsor estate outside the New York, a highly accessible playground for those who enjoy the high life. While some (Kate perhaps?) might argue that this is not real countryside compared to Norfolk or Anglesey, where the Cambridges lived as newlyweds, Barnes insists that the area is perfectly rural. “You do get a bit of plane noise but you get used to it. It’s smart country – but proper country.” Indeed the Queen’s 3000-acre farm has 200 pedigree Jersey milking cows, a pedigree Sussex beef herd, 140 breeding sows and 1500 Lohmann Brown hens. “Wherever you look there are farms and Pony Clubs and landed families that have lived here for generations,” Barnes says. “That’s why it’s always been so popular.” And, presumably, why it has become so expensive – those aspiring to join the Thames Valley Toffs will be disappointed to discover that £2 million (the price of a Georgian rectory and 100 acres in Norfolk) buys nothing more than a four-bedroom mock Tudor, here.

The locals

There will be no stilted dinner parties in freezing ancestral piles for the Sussexes. The Home Countries set is altogether flashier than the Turnip Toffs of Norfolk – as Kate knows this only too well, having grown up 15 miles away at Bucklebury. (In fact, the Cambridges were tempted to move out west themselves, in 2011 reportedly looking round Kingston Lisle Park, which used to belong to Prince Harry’s godmother, Laura Lonsdale.)  Meghan can look forward to film screenings in the private cinema (complete with popcorn machine) at George and Amal Clooney’s £20 million pile near Sonning, and lavish parties chez Elton John, who has a house in Old Windsor and holds Gatsby-esque balls with Oligrachs and sports stars on the Wentworth Estate. The area is surrounded by landed families: there are the Oppenheimers at Waltham Place near Maidenhead, which they run as a biodynamic and organic farm, and the Benyons at Englefield on the other side of Reading, where Pippa Middleton married James Matthews. And then there are the Phillimores and Schwarzenbachs at Henley, who host enviable garden parties. The area is increasingly attracting young guns from the Gloucestershire set, who are now embracing a Staines postcode. “It suits young parents,” says a source, “they can make big bucks in the City, yet still be back home for bath time.”

Sentebale Polo CupThe lifestyle

Much of the local social scene revolves around polo, with regular play-offs at Guards Polo Club and the Royal Berkshire Polo Ground, where in June, Meghan cheered Harry on in the Sentebale Polo Cup. Golf is another big feature; Harry can work on his handicap at Sunningdale and Wentworth, while Meghan, like every other local golf widow in Henley-shire, heads to one of the area’s five star spas – Clivedon, perhaps, or Coworth Park, where she stayed before her wedding, and which is more opulent than the Hurlingham Club in London where Kate has her tennis lessons. There is no Bond Street equivalent in Windsor – no bother when Knightsbridge is near enough – but as a keen chef Meghan will enjoy having the Windsor Farm shop down the road, which sells fresh produce from the Royal farm.

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Meghan Markle home birth: Will Meghan give birth at Frogmore Cottage?

Meghan Markle, 37, and Prince Harry, 34, have taken the “personal decision” of keeping their birthing arrangements for the royal baby under wraps. And it seems that decision has fuelled rumours the former actress has opted for a home birth in order to keep the magical experience private. Buckingham Palace said in a statement: “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very grateful for the goodwill they have received from people throughout the United Kingdom and around the world as they prepare to welcome their baby. Their Royal Highnesses have taken a personal decision to keep the plans around the arrival of their baby private. The Duke and Duchess look forward to sharing the exciting news with everyone once they have had an opportunity to celebrate privately as a new family.” Bookmakers have slashed the odds on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex opting for a home birth at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor from 5/1 to 7/4 following the palace announcement. Alex Apati of Ladbrokes said: “Harry and Meghan want all things Royal Baby to be kept private, and you can’t get much more private than a home birth – so we’ve taken the scissors to the odds of exactly that happening as a result.” A home birth led by a midwife is believed to be the “favoured choice” of the royal couple, a source told the Daily Mail. But the same source added Meghan and Harry not had totally ruled out a hospital delivery, however.

Meghan Markle and Prince HarryHarry and Meghan’s child will be seventh-in-line to the throne once he or she is born, meaning there is less pressure on their arrangements. At present, an announcement is expected to be made once the Duchess has gone into labour. A second one should then follow after the arrival of the newborn. This will include details of the baby’s weight, gender and place of birth. Meghan and Harry are believed to want to escape the media spotlight and royal photocall that accompanied all three births of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Kate posed outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s Hospital in London with blowdried hair and immaculate makeup hours after giving birth to Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis. Harry and William’s mother Princess Diana also participated in the same tradition after having both her sons inside the west London hospital.

There is still a strong chance Meghan might opt for a birth at a hospital but one located much nearer to her home than the Lindo Wing. The most obvious choice is the Mulberry Centre at the NHS-run Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey. Frimley Park is located 15 miles away from Frogmore Cottage, compared to a 23-mile journey to St Mary’s. Ladbrokes has current odds of 4/1 for St Mary’s and 8/1 for The Portland Hospital.

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Buckingham Palace has a way of dealing with family feuds… and ‘emotional’ royals never fare well

The Royal family watch a military fly-past to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force

As Tolstoy famously opined: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” It’s a jolt to consider that the royal family are actually just like us – unhappy in their own way. We want to buy into the archetypal myth of the fairy tale: that the palaces, privilege and pomp lend themselves to living happily ever after. Tonight’s documentary, The Royal Family At War, debunks this myth: navigating the marriage break-up between Prince Charles and Diana,Princess of Wales in 1996; revisiting the abdication crisis of 1936, when Edward VIII renounced the throne to marry Wallis Simpson, and the current rumoured feud between the Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex.  Members of the royal family may marry for love – “whatever in love means”, as Prince Charles questioned in his engagement interview to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 – but history and tradition regularly conspire against them. Monarchy depends on continuity, conformity and the cult of the court. Familial conflict is not part of the regal code. The big business of The Firm requires that it operates as a diplomatic, rational machine. What is not tolerated, far less understood, is emotion. Those that heed the unspoken creed – duty over emotion – fare well. This week, unflappable Kate, who undertook her first public engagement with the Queen, fully cemented her position as a failsafe support to the monarch. Smiling and relaxed, her sunny self-assuredness must have been a balm to courtiers prickly over rumours of her rift with Meghan.

The news that Queen allegedly vetoed the Sussexes’ plan to set up a separate court and be “entirely independent” underlines the essence of a constitutional monarchy. This is an institutional structure to support the monarch, which doesn’t allow for that kind of rogue independence. The fact that William and Harry are splitting courts, as Meghan and Harry move from Kensington Palace to Frogmore Cottage next month,is unsettling enough with its potential for further rifts and rivalry.  History shows that the more colourful, excitable characters in the royal family who try to steer their own course tend not to reign triumphant. Consider the fates of Edward VIII, Princess Diana and Sarah, Duchess of York: all anathema to the British old school, stiff upper lip modus operandi. Which makes me anxious for Meghan and Harry.

The sixth-in-line to the throne is clearly more volatile and openly expressive than his elder brother, while Meghan has the double impediment of being not just emotional but an outsider. Worse, an American outsider who must quickly learn that the British way of coping can appear game-playing and manipulative; what is unsaid is often more significant than what is. Like her predecessor, American divorcée Wallis Simpson, of whom her friend, Nicky Haslam said: “To be an American was against her then, almost more than the divorce.” Fortunately, The Firm has modernised in part, and it seen as an advantage to our special relationship that Meghan has become a part of British royalty. Her gushingly demonstrative nature, however, penning positive affirmations on bananas and describing the feeling of her baby moving as the “embryonic kick of feminism,” must be raising eyebrows sky high in Court.  Hopefully, after the unfortunate loss of three palace aides, Meghan is now astute to the fact that it is the courtiers who hold real sway. The Men in Grey, as Diana called them, have successfully ensured the survival of the House of Windsor. As Queen Mary’s biographer, James Pope Hennessy, warned: “it is courtiers who make royalty frightened and frightening.” They maintain control by undermining power with gossip and setting up rivalry between courts. Clarence House took on Kensington Palace during Charles and Diana’s acrimonious divorce in 1996.

As early as in 1932, Edward’s equerry, John Aird, railed against the courtiers at York House who were briefing King George V against his son, lamenting “all the nasty gossip, which is very wrong of them and does no good.” At the time of the abdication, Wallis Simpson had realised that the courtiers wield tremendous influence, writing: “I became obsessed with the notion that a calculated and organised effort to discredit and destroy me had been set afoot.” She was right. The mantra for an effective monarchy may be duty over emotion but sadly, this is antithetical to harmonious family life. As Edward VIII said of his childhood, “Christmas at Sandringham was Dickens in a Cartier setting.” He considered his upbringing to be devoid of emotion; his mother, Queen Mary, could never understand nor forgive him for what she saw as the greatest dereliction of his duty when he abdicated. She wrote to her son in July 1938: “All my life I have put my Country before anything else, and I simply cannot change now.”

The Queen has followed suit and is a brilliant monarch, though fallible mother. Like the savvy Duchesses of Cornwall and Cambridge, she has never openly bleated about her position, nor given friends the green light to mutter to the media. Camilla, a true blue blood, has kept her feelings tightly and admirably to herself. From being a reviled figure at the time of the Wales’ divorce in 1996, who could have been crushed by the avalanche of opprobrium, she has become the nation’s favourite grandmother, proving herself to be the mainstay of Prince Charles’s happiness and an ideal consort.

Having written books about two controversial royal women, Princess Diana and Wallis Simpson, it is clear to me that emotion is the enemy of monarchical longevity. Drawing attention to fragility is viewed as nauseating weakness, while openly addressing conflict is simply bad manners. Diana became the victim of her emotional life. Ill-equipped to cope with her outbursts, such as confronting Camilla at a party at Annabel Goldsmith’s about her affair with Charles, the Palace found her irrational and difficult to deal with.  The same could be said of Edward VIII. After the abdication, his torment that his wife would not be received by his family, nor given the HRH title, caused him to further alienate himself. His obsessive and pushy tendencies regularly undid whatever miniscule steps had been made towards familial rapprochement. “If you gave the Duke of Windsor an inch, he took a mile,” said royal biographer Hugo Vickers. “He could be hugely whiney, especially to Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth.” If only the Duke of Windsor had been as patient and strategic as Camilla has been. I believe that eventually he could have returned to live in Britain with his Duchess, which he longed for. In terms of true grit of character, Wallis understood – and ironically had the requisite inner discipline to survive – court life. After the abdication, when she received trays of vicious hate mail each morning, she schooled herself to control her inner world. She developed an implacable façade to conceal the extent of her suffering. Unlike her husband, she predicted that the conflict with the royal family was unlikely to abate. During the Second World War, she wrote: “We had two wars to deal with – the big and still leisurely war – in which everybody was caught up, and the little cold war with the Palace, in which no quarter was given.” And never was.

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Queen speaks of ‘greater confidence and optimism’ thanks to stable links with Commonwealth on 70th anniversary

The Queen has spoken of the “greater confidence and optimism” Britain can have thanks to its stable links with the Commonwealth, as she marks the 70th anniversary of the “family of nations”. In a message delivered ahead of Commonwealth Day on Monday, the Queen has given thanks for the ” networks of cooperation and mutual support to which we contribute, and on which we draw”. Saying the “enduring commitment” of the 53 countries is intangible, she added that nevertheless “its impact is very real”. In what is scheduled to be her last Commonwealth Day message before Brexit on March 29th, the Queen emphasised the element of “belonging” in a modern, connected organisation.

On Monday, she will be joined by members of her family including the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for a Westminster Abbey service celebrating its 70th anniversary with music from Clean Bandit and tenor Alfie Boe, and a reflection by Lewis Pugh on ocean conservation. This year, the Queen’s message contains a plea to protect the planet, following her Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy tree project and a new focus on the ocean environment. “Com-monwealth Day has a special significance this year as we mark the 70th anniversary of the London Declaration, when nations of the Commonwealth agreed to move forward together as free and equal members,” the Queen said. “The vision and sense of connection that inspired the signatories has stood the test of time, and the Commonwealth continues to grow, adapting to address contemporary needs. “Today, many millions of people around the world are drawn together because of the collective values shared by the Commonwealth. “In April last year, I welcomed the leaders of our 53 nations to Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, and we all witnessed how the  Commonwealth vision offers hope, and inspires us to find ways of protecting our planet,  and our people. “We are able to look to the future with greater confidence and optimism as a result  of the links that we share, and thanks to the networks of cooperation and mutual support to which we contribute, and on which we draw. “With enduring commitment through times of great change, successive generations have demonstrated that whilst the goodwill for which the Commonwealth is renowned may be intangible, its impact is very real. “We experience this as people of all backgrounds continue to find new ways of expressing through action the value of belonging in a connected Commonwealth. “I hope and trust that many more will commit to doing so this Commonwealth Day.”

The Commonwealth Day service will be broadcast live on BBC One and across the BBC World Service. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who lived in Canada while filming her television show Suits, will spend part of the day with young people at Canada House making  maple taffy and watching dance performances. Later on Monday evening, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will be guests of the Commonwealth Secretary-General at a reception at Marlborough House.