The Royal Week: Trooping the Colour Predictions, William Heads to France and the Emergence of a New Royal Star

Royal Week

King Charles III and Queen Camilla stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch a fly-past of aircraft by the Royal Air Force during Trooping the Colour on June 17, 2023, London, England. Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

It has just been announced that Prince William will travel to France next week to attend commemoration ceremonies marking the 80th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy. He is set to take part in a major engagement alongside some 25 world leaders. King Charles III and Queen Camilla will also be in France, as had already been announced. The King and Queen will attend the British ceremonies at Ver-sur-Mer. William will attend two different ceremonies that day, including one at Juno Beach, hosted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Juno Beach is where some 14,000 Canadians landed on June 6, 1944. By the time the offensive ended, three months later, 5,000 Canadian lives had been lost in the allied efforts to turn the tide of the Second World War. William will also attend ceremonies at Omaha beach, where Canadian, American and British landing parties will be acknowledged.

This is a big event for William, who is stepping into a statesman role as heir to the throne. The Prince has already made some notable diplomatic undertakings, including visits to Israel and Pakistan where he began to learn how to walk the fine line he must take as future sovereign: he must not be seen to interfere in affairs of state but to still wield soft diplomacy.

We’ve seen him take subtle steps into tricky affairs before. After missing the funeral of King Constantine of Greece due to his wife’s health issues, William issued a statement about the terrible cost of the conflict in the Middle East and the need for humanitarian aid in Gaza and calling for the release of Israeli hostages by Hamas, during a February visit to the British Red Cross. That same month, he condemned the rise of antisemitism during an engagement at a London synagogue

He also previously urged President Xi Jinping of China to ban trade in illegal wildlife, a touchy subject in which the royals use of soft power may eventually bear fruit over time.

William, Prince of Wales, will travel to France next week to attend commemoration ceremonies marking the 80th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy. Earlier this year, he visited the British Red Cross to hear about the humanitarian efforts taking place to support those affected by the conflict in Middle East and in Gaza. Photo: Kin Cheung/POOL/AFP/Getty Images

 

The Balcony, Then and Now

 

Practice drills begin this week for the next major royal event, Trooping the Colour, which is still on for June 15 despite the British election. Buckingham Palace announced last week that many of the smaller royal outings will be cancelled so that the senior members of the Royal Family won’t appear to be showing favouritism to any party. As ceremonial head of state, the King must remain neutral at all times.

King Charles  rode in the parade last year; this year it has been announced he will inspect the troops from within a carriage. Trooping, which marks the monarch’s official birthday, is a tradition dating back 260 years. The monarch’s birthday is celebrated in June to ensure that the massive parade, with all the grand open carriages carrying family members, takes place in good weather. The late Queen was born in April; Charles himself was born in November, neither months known for their nice weather, in rain-prone Britain.

Royal Week
Queen Elizabeth II with other members of the Royal Family on the balcony at Buckingham Palace, following the first Trooping the Colour Ceremony of her reign in 1952. Left to right; the Queen Mother, the Queen, Duke of Gloucester (smoking cigarette), the Marchioness of Carisbrooke, the Princess Royal, the Duke of Edinburgh, and in front, Prince Richard of Gloucester, Princess Margaret and Lady Patricia Ramsay. Photo: PA Images via Getty Images

 

In the normal course of events, Catherine, Princess of Wales, as Colonel of the Irish Guards, would take the salute at the rehearsals for the event. As per medical guidance, it has been announced she will not do so this year

Much of the fuss and speculation around Trooping the Colour shifted to who might make the balcony this year for the fly-by celebrating the monarch’s official birthday. After William’s cousins – Zara Tindall and Peter Phillips, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie – showed out in force for the Buckingham Palace garden party he hosted last week, thoughts turned to whether Charles will decide to bring out a larger party on the balcony this year. 

With the pandemic, the death of Prince Phillip, Queen Elizabeth’s extended illness, the Jubilee and then the Queen’s death in 2022, the balcony has become a smaller party than in the past. Particularly last year, to underscore Charles’s desire for a slimmed-down monarchy, it was a tight circle of just the King with Queen, William and Kate and the Wales children, George, Charlotte and Louis.

Sir Timothy Laurence, Princess Anne, Princess Royal, Prince George of Wales, Prince Louis of Wales, Catherine, Princess of Wales, Princess Charlotte of Wales, Prince William, Prince of Wales, King Charles III, Queen Camilla, Prince Edward, Duke of Edinburgh and Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch a fly-past of aircraft by the Royal Air Force during Trooping the Colour, June 17, 2023, London, England. Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

 

But over the decades of the Queen’s historically long reign, she often invited many members of her extended family onto the balcony. Prince Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, were on the balcony in 2018 and 2019. But for the 2022 Trooping the Colour, which coincided with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, a decision was taken that only working royals would be on the balcony. This was an expedient way to exclude Prince Andrew, who had been forced to step down from his duties, and Harry and Meghan, who had chosen to do so.

Princess Anne, Princess Royal, Princess Beatrice, Lady Louise Windsor, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, Savannah Phillips, Prince George of Cambridge and Isla Phillips watch the fly-past on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during Trooping The Colour, June 9, 2018 in London, England. Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

 

Looking back to happier appearances in the past, the balcony once teemed with people. In 2016, more than 40 family members crowded onto the famous perch for Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday. The number often rose above 30. Pride of place near the monarch is always given to the heir to the throne, which is why we used to see Princess Diana with then-Prince Charles front-and-centre in the photographs, and the same reason Kate and William are so prominent. Royal children are often ushered to the front, so they can see, and be seen, by the crowds. Catching a glimpse of the Wales children of today is a happy reminder of the years young William and Harry were together on the balcony.

Royal Week
Prince Harry, Princess Diana, and Prince William, Trooping the Colour, 1988. Photo: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

 

If Charles decides to expand the balcony party again, his nieces and nephews have a lot of kids who are big crowd pleasers.  Zara, Beatrice and Eugenie are particular favourites as well as emerging fashion plates, always a keen point of interest in the press. Charles faces a conundrum regarding what to do with his brother Andrew. See, the rule the Queen came up with of only having “working” royals participate, handily dealt with denying Andrew his moment in the spotlight, despite the fact he had attended Trooping the Colour his whole life. For Charles, the question becomes: how does he include Andrew’s daughters but not the Prince himself? Andrew has appeared only at family events, Christmas church services,  major funerals and the Coronation, albeit that last in a less prominent seat than he might otherwise have ranked.

 

A New Royal Star Blossoms

 

One young royal who may gather more attention throughout this year is Lady Louise Windsor. The 20-year-old daughter of Prince Edward, Duke, and Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh. She made a splash at Charles’s Coronation, emerging as a fashionable young woman, whereas before she had been a shy teen in her previous appearances at the funerals of her grandfather and then grandmother, both to whom she was close. An English literature student at the University of St Andrews – where Kate and William famously met – Lady Louise’s profile has risen as her parents step up as key working members of the family, and hard-working contributors to Charles’s slimmed-down lineup. She is not expected to become a working royal herself – like her cousins, Beatrice, Eugenie, Zara and Peter – and while her brother has a new title, Earl of Wessex, passed down from his father, she will remain Lady Louise.

Royal Week
Prince Edward, Duke and Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, arriving with their children, Lady Louise Windsor (right) and the Earl of Wessex (left), at the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla, May 6, 2023. London.  Photo: Andrew Milligan/WPA Pool/Getty Images

 

She has been seen in public at carriage riding events, a sport she learned from her grandfather Philip. Her new confidence in the spotlight, and at the carriage reigns, means she will take up increasingly more ink and photo attention in the near future.

The Trooping balcony speculation may keep the British tabloids busy for a bit. Because with the absence of glamorous favourite Kate, and now the reduced number of engagements for the slimmed-down monarchy due to the election, pickings are relatively slim to feed the royal press machine.