The last few years would have to be the strangest in royal annals since Alfred the Great green lit the Anglo Saxon Chronicle and someone got started on history’s first bestseller.
Just think about what has happened since only 2019. Somehow we are at a place where the allegation that a prince sexually assaulted a teenage sex trafficking victim involves a suburban branch of a pizza chain. (A claim said Prince Andrew the Duke of York has always denied.)
And somehow we are at a place where a prince of the realm hit the eject button on royal life only to start popping up on US chat shows and TV screens with the regularity of someone selling a swivel sweeper.
Yet, strange times got stranger still this month, with not only King Charles but Kate the Princess of Wales currently laid up in the same London hospital, with the Crown Inc. suffering its worst health crisis since that one time all the lobster thermidor turned out to be off.
The Princess of Wales is in hospital with a mystery condition. Picture: Stephen Pond/Getty Images
The bizarre doesn’t stop there: Why haven’t Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis been to see their mother?
It is now 12 days since the princess and mother of three was admitted to the London Clinic for abdominal surgery, thus 12 days at least since her three young children have seen her.
The day after the Kate news was announced, Prince William, having put his out of office on to do the full-time dad bit, was seen leaving the Clinic via the back in his $268,000 electric Audi.
Both the Sun and the Daily Mail have subsequently reported that the prince has been in to see his wife on a daily basis since then, which is sweet and all but just to really play broken record, what about their kidlets?
And what about, for matter, Kate’s devoted parents Carole and Michale Middleton and her siblings Pippa Matthews and James Middleton, with whom she is very close? (James, who has written about suffering from severe depression, has revealed that Kate “came to some of my therapy sessions” and that she was “by my side during the hardest of times as well.”)
Prince William, Prince of Wales drives himself away from the London Clinic on January 18 where his wife underwent surgery. Picture: HENRY NICHOLLS / AFP
It is not a matter of William wanting to protect his kids from having to brave the wall of invasive, intimidating long lenses of the world’s press either.
The Daily Mail’s royal editor Rebecca English has revealed that “the media have agreed not to have photographers [outside the hospital], not to have camera crews, not to have journalists, to allow [Kate] to recuperate from her operation in privacy and also to respect the privacy of the other patients.”
Therefore, William or the Middletons could easily ferry George, Charlotte and Louis in and out of the hospital to see their mum unobserved and in private.
One possible explanation for the young Waleses staying away came via the Sun, which reported that “William and Kate want her absence to feel as normal as possible for the youngsters”. And Monday to Friday, that’s entirely buyable and reasonable.
But – and here we have a double, treble underlined ‘but’ in bold – what about the weekend just past?
Still, they did not go, instead doing some (I’m assuming) bucolic gambolling about their “doting” Middleton grandparents’ $7 million place in Bucklebury, according to the Sun.
Which is sweet and all and Carole and Michael can ‘dote’ all they want, proffering forth as many sticky buns, sweet treats and gloriously gloopy ice creams as they can find, but is that better than getting a hug from their mother?
Why haven’t Kate Middleton’s children been to see her in hospital? Picture: Chris Jackson/Getty Images
The Waleses home Adelaide Cottage is only about a 45-minute drive from Kate’s hospital, so again, that’s hardly a logistic concern that might be preventing a family reunion.
What makes all of this even more bizarre is if you consider the bigger picture. A royal commentator can barely move normally without tripping over some story strenuously flogging the line that the Waleses are devoted parents entirely committed to being as present as possible in their childrens’ lives.
Take, for example, that the prince and princess take off pretty much every school holiday, that is, 19 weeks a year, so that they do bonding things that probably involve matching muddy wellies and games of Pooh sticks.
As a royal aide told the Sunday Times’ Roya Nikkhah last week, William and Kate’s new motto as they face her health situation is, “100 per cent family first, day job second”.
Does that gel with the kids not be taken to see Kate?
I understand: No child wants to see a parent in a hospital bed. It would be scary and upsetting. But I do think that they would prefer to see their mother for a much-needed dose of mumming and to see for themselves that she is on the road to recovery than not.
An argument put forward by the Mail’s English is that “ royals don’t tend to visit each other in hospital, or at least only very rarely.”
Except here comes that word again – ‘but’.
But we haven’t really had members of the royal family, aside from Prince Philip, in hospital for years now making this something of a moot point.
Also, various moda operandi established under the late Queen, like staying clear of relatives in wards, are quietly being done away with to usher in a much more contemporary, less emotionally austere royal family. For example, His Majesty “made a beeline” for his daughter-in-law’s room when he arrived at the London Clinic this week.
Meanwhile Queen Camilla visited her husband three times within the space of 24-hours.
At the very time of year when all the working members of the royal family should be mucking in, instead things have veered dramatically off course and we are far away from normal Windsor programming.
I’d suggest that Camilla invest in some crystals, sage and the services of a half-decent shaman to sort of whatever bad juju or hex is hanging over Buckingham Palace.
If there is one thought that should be keeping Tony Abbott and his monarchical cronies up at night then it’s this: Currently holding the fort are the gloriously flinty Princess Anne, a woman who looks like she keeps a supply of shoulder-length veterinary gloves in her car in case of foaling emergencies and Prince Edward, a man who looks like he audits his golf club’s accounts for fun.
Yeah. Things should be totally fine. Totally.