The Royal Week: Charles, William and Anne Mark D-Day, Becks Talks Bees and the Kate Speculation Returns

King Charles III, at the UK Ministry of Defence and the Royal British Legion’s commemorative event at the British Normandy Memorial to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 2024, Ver-Sur-Mer, France. Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

The Royal Family was out in force for the solemn commemorations of D-Day in Normandy, 80 years after the Allied landing. Honouring military service and fallen soldiers is the highest priority for the British monarch, as Head of the Armed Forces. King Charles spoke in front of the British Normandy memorial at Ver-sur-Mer, citing a “profound sense of gratitude” to the soldiers who risked or lost their lives in the campaign.

Free nations must stand against tyranny, he declared, in his emotional speech, adding that the memory of the bravery shown in this place ought to be a lesson for today: “Our obligation to remember them, what they stood for, and what they achieved for us all, can never diminish.”

The number of surviving veterans of the Allied landings is now very small (23 British soldiers attended), and hanging over the sombre ceremony was the sense that there could only be a few more of these anniversaries with eyewitnesses present.

Prince William, along with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, was at a ceremony held at Juno Beach in honour of Canadian veterans and our soldiers who lost their lives through the course of the three-month battle. “We honour every Canadian, who gave so much, and every Canadian family who lost a loved one,” William said in his speech. He concluded in French, “Thank you for your service, and thank you for our freedom.”

There were 13 Canadian veterans present for the ceremony. William also attended a service at Omaha Beach, a primary landing spot for American troops, and was seated with US President Joe Biden, Ukrainian president Vlodymyr Zelensky and French President Emmanuel Macron.

(L/R): Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, US First Lady Jill Biden, US President Joe Biden, France’s President Emmanuel Macron, Brigitte Macron, Prince William, Prince of Wales and Australia’s Governor-General David Hurley look on as they attend the International commemorative ceremony at Omaha Beach marking the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings on June 6, 2024 in Normandy, Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, France. Photo: Lou Benoist – Pool/Getty Images

 

This is the Royal Family shown at its best and most vital. In the first foreign appearance since announcing his cancer treatment, King Charles was in fine form, choosing for his khaki formal Field Marshall No. 4 tropical uniform, complete with all medals and decorations. Queen Camilla and the French first lady, Brigitte Macron, co-ordinated their looks in white. Macron wore a sleek cream coat dress (she generally favours Vuitton for official duties, but the provenance of the outfit was not immediately known). Camilla chose a brighter white Anna Valentine midi coat dress with pearl earrings and a brooch, along with a Philip Treacy hat. The sombre occasion called for serious colours. Yesterday, in a pre-D-Day appearance in Britain, Camilla continued her run of notably cheerful pink, with a Fiona Clare coatdress. 

(From L) Queen Camilla, King Charles III, France’s President Emmanuel Macron and Brigitte Macron attend the U.K. Ministry of Defence and the Royal British Legion’s commemorative ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy on June 6, 2024. Photo: Ludovic MARIN / POOL/AFPGetty Images

 

Becks and Bees

 

Earlier this week, King Charles was pleased to announce a new ambassador for his King’s Trust charity: British national hero and soccer legend David Beckham. Apparently the two had a little chat about bees before the announcement of Beckham’s new position. As we learned in the Netflix documentary Beckham last year, the footballer is an avid beekeeper – a hobby he practices at the Cotswold farm he shares with Spice Girl wife Victoria and their four children.

The two appeared at Highgrove, Charles’ longtime country retreat and organic gardens. Beckham spoke of his newfound love of the outdoors, something Charles has always been passionate about. “Having developed a love for the countryside,” he said, “I’m on a personal mission to learn more about rural skills, which is so central to the foundation’s work.”

 

Beckham has long had an association with the Royal Family, most notably with the young royals. He and Victoria attended both William and Kate’s wedding in 2011 and Harry and Meghan’s wedding in 2018. But it was the story about David waiting in the queue some 14 hours to pay his respects to the late Queen Elizabeth II, alongside members of the public, chatting and passing the time like normal folk, that endeared him to royalists everywhere. Wife Victoria said at the time “he met some really amazing people.” This was in contrast to a number of international and British celebrities who “jumped” the line to take the VIP pass-through to view the Queen’s casket. Despite his international wattage, disarming good looks and prowess on the football field, Beckham solidly comes across as the kind of guy you’d want to have a pint with. This is a great association for Charles, shining both youth and approachability on his projects.

David Beckham waited 14 hours alongside the public to pay his respects to the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Hall in London in September 2022. Photo: LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP via Getty Images

 

 

Trooping Speculation

 

We learned this week that Prince Edward, a stalwart support to his older brother’s reign, will make his debut appearance at Trooping the Colour on June 15th. As the Colonel of the Scots Guard regiment (an honour he received only recently, following the new title of Duke of Edinburgh bestowed by King Charles), he will ride at the head of the parade alongside his sister, Olympic horsewoman Princess Anne, Colonel of the Blues and Royals, and Prince William, Colonel of the Welsh.

Like all the children of the Queen’s household, Edward has ridden since toddlerhood. But he clearly wants to be sure this appearance goes off without a hitch. He has been seen practicing with his other older brother, Andrew, who was forced down from his public roles in 2019. The troops, reports the Telegraph, have been practising for many weeks (with a 3 am start!). So it only makes sense Edward would want to get in some hours on his mount.

Prince Edward, seen here in 1993, will ride at the head of the parade alongside his sister, Olympic horsewoman Princess Anne, Colonel of the Blues and Royals, and Prince William, Colonel of the Welsh. Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

 

While this is a sweet story of the behind-the-scenes preparation for “the Birthday Party,” as troops call it, in reference to the official reason for the parade – the “official” birthday of the British monarch – the much bigger story is a will-she or won’t-she kind of trumped-up press frenzy once again.

The absence of the Princess of Wales from active public duty as she is treated for cancer has created a glamour void. “Worthy” news, such as the D-Day ceremonies, is heartwarming and important, but it simply does not sell newspapers. The royal rota exists to sell newspapers (or get clicks, these days). Catherine, Princess of Wales is the chief draw for eyeballs in the Royal Family and her absence from the front lines of duty means a scramble to induce interest in the public. It is also the beginning of what journalists like to call the silly season, when news takes a vacation along with the rest of us.

So it is a bit sad to report that the frenzy we saw earlier this year when Kate went “missing” between Christmas and March, when she was forced to announce publicly her diagnosis and treatment and ask for time and space for herself and her family, has begun to repeat itself. Yes, she may make a surprise appearance on the balcony at Trooping the Colour. After all, her kids may be there, and three is a lot for William to wrangle on his own. 

The speculation rose earlier this week as The Mirror (a British tabloid that relies heavily on unnamed sources) used the word “considering” – as in, the Princess of Wales was “considering” a balcony appearance for the post-parade fly-over depending on how she was feeling on the day of the event. This “news” was derived from the usual unnamed sources and this one word, “considering,” was then used by a rash of publications, both reputable and tabloid, in the following days. 

The word from Kensington Palace, which handles the scheduling of the princess’s announcements, remains unchanged. “The princess will return to her official duties when she is cleared to do so by her medical team.”

L-R: Prince George, Catherine, Princess of Wales, Prince Louis, William, Prince of Wales and Princess Charlotte on the Buckingham Palace balcony during Trooping the Colour on June 17, 2023. Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

 

Would it be cool if Kate made a surprise balcony appearance? Of course. Does pressure in the media make it more likely to happen? Unfortunately, yes. We are still gutted that Kate was forced to address her very personal health considerations with a video explaining more details than she obviously wanted to convey.

It feels like the pressure to speculate about her potential appearance is just not fair. The way that the social media tumult has sped up to anticipate, to prescribe, to throw out red herrings about sightings of Kate around town: have we forgotten the dignified lessons of the soldiers of D-Day? The royals are people, first and foremost. If Kate chooses to appear on the balcony, why can’t we just let that happen? If she doesn’t, because she is still recovering, why set her up to disappoint?

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