JAN MOIR: It’s time to give the royal munchkins a break…
Despite all the warnings, the worries and the Sussex-related woes, the Platinum Jubilee turned out to be a great success, hurrah.
But as the last cucumber sandwich is digested and the bunting is packed away — possibly for years! — isn’t it time to put some of the royals into cold storage, too?
No, not the dusty old dukes bent double under their racks of dubious medals, nor the disgraced Yorks, nor indeed the Hollywood runaways. I’m talking about Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis; the next generation of front-line Windsors.
At the moment, their fate seems to involve being prematurely thrust onto the world stage, buckled shoes polished as they perhaps buckle under the weight of global scrutiny.
Watching them on Jubilee duty recently has made me think: aren’t they too young for all this? Are the little royals simply too little for the responsibility of public expectation and interest now heaped upon their tot-sized shoulders?
Not even the Queen herself was asked to do so much, so young. And barely anything was seen or heard of fledgling Charles, practically until his investiture as Prince of Wales in 1969, when he was 20 years old.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis on the Buckingham Palace balcony following the Platinum Jubilee Pageant
Kate and Prince Louis pictured during the Platinum Jubilee Pageant along The Mall on Sunday
Yes, he did once try to buy a cherry brandy in a pub when he was underage, but that was as far as it went when it came to headline-grabbing appearances.
Prince William and Prince Harry were kept in the background as much as possible, although Harry still complains bitterly to this day about having to walk behind the coffin at his mother’s funeral, something he claims has mentally scarred him for life.
In the meantime, what psychological hell is a-brewing for his innocent niece and nephews? It doesn’t help that everything seems to revolve around children these days, on and off the royal beat. Their needs are the priority, their presence at family events always given top billing.
It is to the detriment of both adults and children that kids are always the centre of attention. It’s just not healthy!
It is clear to see why the Cambridges in particular — and the monarchy in general — could certainly use the positive bounce in the polls supplied by a stream of feel-good images of their super-cute kiddies.
Yet for me, the participation of junior Cambridges in royal events both major and minor has become an increasingly uncomfortable spectacle.
It was not just four-year-old Prince Louis’s sugar-fuelled antics on Saturday night, although that didn’t help. Many found it charming and amusing, but others — like me — didn’t find it sweet or funny at all.
Meghan Markle was pictured interacting with Savannah Phillips and Mia Tindall during the Jubilee weekend
He was just a tired, bored little boy who needed his bed. And a part of the problem is that, in the past, his tantrums would have been confined to a few yellowing images in newspapers or a seldom-seen clip aired in a news item or documentary.
Now, anyone can summon up the footage with the click of a button on a smartphone. And you can guarantee that it is going to follow Prince Louis around for ever; a crimson shadow of embarrassment throughout his teenage years and beyond. Is it fair to inflict such a fate on an under-five?
Of the three Cambridge children, bossgirl Princess Charlotte, seven, seems best able to cope with the pressure. However, Prince George, who turns nine next month, often seems uncomfortable with the attention — and sometimes even looks troubled.
And when one considers the meticulously orchestrated future that awaits him, no wonder.
Children are like little sponges, they absorb the feelings and anxieties in the atmosphere around them; somewhere in the royal ether must lurk the awareness that the monarchy is now destined to dilute and weaken with every passing generation. Once the Queen has gone, the glamour and eminence will surely begin to fritter away, like glitter down a golden drain.
Yes, the line of succession and the progress of the future king has to be made visible to the public — hopefully to ensure their ongoing support and affection.
And in a royal world of tarnished reputations and banished princes, it is little wonder that the innocence and purity of these dimpled, darling assets is being enthusiastically maximised.
So no surprise that the three children were front and centre of the Jubilee celebrations; this trio of midget emissaries, always immaculately dressed in heritage outfits as if they were mini-adults at an upscale garden party circa 1952. Ankle socks, smocking, sports jackets, sailor outfits, sensible leather shoes with mother-of-pearl buttons — who under the age of 60 even dresses like this any more? Only them.
If they were Japanese royal children or mini members of the Korean imperial family, or silent but obedient princelings from Saudi Arabia or Thailand or Tonga, we would be raising an eyebrow at their dutiful appearances.
Prince Louis sticks his tongue out towards his mother, the Duchess of Cambridge, while watching the Platinum Jubilee Pageant
We would be wondering at the appropriateness of parading these mute munchkins in front of the cameras for the approval and entertainment of the serf classes.
No wonder that William and Kate seemingly oscillate with anxiety when they are around the children in public; no doubt terrified of the eruption of some tiny rage or volcanic sulk that no amount of love or careful parenting can insure against.
How they must envy the carefully curated privacy of the Sussexes, whose children Archie, three, and Lilibet, one, are kept out of the public spotlight save for the odd sighting of an arty toe or back of a head or a tasteful Christmas or birthday card portrait — an option simply not available to the Cambridges.
For much is asked of their children. They must put away childish things in public, ride in royal carriages with Nana Camilla, collect bouquets from demented well-wishers still keening about ‘Granny Diana’ and who keep staring, staring, staring in a weird way.
The three of them had front-row seats at the Platinum Party concert, which must have been an utter torture, forced to listen to every last parp and toot from singers they had never heard of making a noise that they did not understand.
‘Mummy, Mummy! Who is that scary man? Make him stop!’ ‘Shush darling, its only Rod Stewart.’
In the age of the internet and myriad social platforms, I can’t help but feel it is too indelible, too much, too young.
Has the time come to retire the royal children from high-profile royal duties until they are old enough to know better? Or maybe they should just soak up the privileges and suffer in silence, like the rest of the star-crossed crew?
Either way, it is a hard watch.
Sex assault is for the police, not podcasts
In her new book, Wendy Joseph QC writes of the sexist treatment and sexual harassment she endured as a lawyer in the 1970s.
Why didn’t women of her generation do more to combat it? ‘It didn’t occur to me that I could or should,’ she said. ‘In a male-dominated world, I allowed myself to be dominated.’
How well I recognise that mindset, which continued for a few decades afterwards. Harassment from men, sexual or otherwise? We would shrug it off and get on with our careers.
Yet the generations of young women who came later refused to put up with such nonsense — they were right and we were wrong. It is thanks to them that men today think twice, three and four times before laying an unwanted hand on a female colleague. Workplaces are safer and better places for it, and it is all thanks to these women’s efforts.
Yet sometimes I think it has gone too far the other way. Comedian Katherine Ryan, pictured, has revealed how she confronted a colleague on a popular television programme because she believed him to be a sexual predator. Why? Because somebody told her.
Katherine Ryan pictured at the Pride Of Britain Awards 2021 at The Grosvenor House Hotel in London in October last year
Meanwhile, her podcast co-presenter Sara Pascoe revealed that she had reported a celebrity to a TV channel after receiving a phone call from a viewer who claimed to have been raped by him.
Hang on, let me get this right. Neither of these women were personally assaulted by these men, nor witnessed any assaults by these men, but acting on hearsay — and a single phone call, possibly anonymous — they reported them by name? Then talked about it later on a broadcast, in the kind of tones that suggested they were richly congratulating themselves on their actions? I find this all very disturbing.
If they believed a serious assault had taken place, they should have gone to the police. More importantly, so should the women who claimed to have been assaulted in the first place.
Sexual assault is not a branch of the entertainment industry nor an opportunistic way of boosting your profile and credentials when you have a product to sell. Sadly, sometimes that is exactly how it feels.
That’s no way to treat a Lady
City supermum Helena Morrissey has been forced out as a Foreign Office adviser — for revealing that she thought Boris Johnson should quit over Partygate.
Baroness Morrissey said: ‘I would rather he didn’t [carry on as Prime Minister]. I don’t see any contrition. He said, “We will bash on.” That’s not what we want to hear. Tax cuts one minute after we’ve raised them, that’s not going to help.’
City supermum Helena Morrissey (pictured in December 2018) has been forced out as a Foreign Office adviser
A perfectly reasonable point of view from an intelligent person. The kind of criticism a strong leader should be able to absorb.
Who are you kidding? Foreign Secretary Liz Truss ordered Lady Morrissey to be sacked for her impertinence — although the Baroness offered to resign first. So much for democracy. So much for the party of free speech, robust debate and vibrant opinion. If you speak ill of the Great Leader Boris you are out on your ear, while simpering loyalists like Nadine Dorries continue to be treasured. Ugh.
Locals who tried to scotch The Killers
American band The Killers played in Falkirk this week, fronted by my favourite rock god Brandon Flowers.
However, not everyone was happy. Several in the Scottish town moaned about the noise, forcing the local council to ask the band to turn it down. How embarrassing! Dare I point out that this did not happen at any of their English concerts? Better not.
Sample complaints included a householder called Alan whingeing on social media about his ‘expensive, relatively new double glazing’ vibrating because of the decibel level.
A woman out walking her dog could ‘clearly hear the words to Mr Brightside and I am sick of it’. In addition, a concert goer grumbled that the local police ‘weren’t very polite to me’ when she asked why the traffic was so bad, while another complained that he was charged ‘£18 for two hamburgers’ at the venue.
The Killers lead singer Brandon Flowers pictured during a performance on Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage in June 2018
My God! Has having a good time ever been so difficult? ‘Thanks to everyone who risked it all coming to a gig in Falkirk,’ tweeted the band after the show. I know what they mean.
And is it so terribly wrong to suggest that Brandon (right) can come and rattle my windows any night of the week, relatively new or otherwise? I hope not.
Be still my beating heart. Line of Duty stars Adrian Dunbar, Martin Compston and Vicky McClure met the show’s writer Jed Mercurio for dinner this week. Does this mean that Superintendent Ted Hastings (above) is ready to climb back into his blouson and lanyard for series seven?
The reappearance of SuperTed is a super exciting thought — but only if his return is a triumphant one. I couldn’t bear another season of Ted moping around like a whipped cur, suspected of being a bent copper himself.
And can I be honest? I don’t care any more who the hell H is, so don’t even start.