The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s recent royal tour of Scotland, concluding today, has been not only a roaring success with locals, but — as indicated by their Instagram page — the single greatest time of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s lives. All week, we’ve been peppered with charming, semi-candid anecdotes about (and footage of) the couple: Kate’s failed DJ attempt, William’s flirty nursing home moment, and the couple reuniting on the campus where they met all come to mind, and that’s not even counting the little boy who asked Kate if she was “a prince,” Kate and William “land-yachting,” or this morning’s gung-ho tennis tournament. It might be easy to blame the media, long-starved for a royal tour and a mask-less one at that, for fawning over the couple in sheer delight at seeing them out and about again, but much of this coverage comes from the Cambridges’ own social media accounts. In the wake of how Prince Harry has described his experience as a royal — “a mix between The Truman Show and being in a zoo,” per his recent appearance on Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast — William and Kate seem particularly eager to prove that not all royals feel that way about fulfilling their duties.
In recent appearances, Harry has not only contended that family members William and Prince Charles are “trapped” in the royal family but expanded on the anxiety he personally felt in royal engagements in the new Oprah series The Me You Can’t See.
“Before I even left the house, I was pouring with sweat and my heart raced. I was in a fight-or-flight mode. Panic attacks, severe anxiety. And from 28 to probably 32 was a nightmare time in my life,” he said, adding that he would start “freaking out” whenever he saw camera flashes.
In contrast, William has reportedly expressed that Harry was “off the mark” for those claims, and he and Kate may have seen this royal tour as the perfect opportunity to prove just how much they really do love their royal engagements — unlike Harry.
No two ways about it: those people are having fun. They’re hugging babies; they’re playing sports. What kind of monster, these photos innocently suggest, wouldn’t enjoy royal duties like this?
Of course Kate and William are in no way going after Harry by smiling and having a good time in Scotland, or even by posting photos about it. If they are committed to their roles within the royal family, it makes sense that they would want to defend having a different experience from Harry’s now publicly-discussed one, and the royal family’s preference for not speaking up directly makes that difficult to do with words alone.
I for one hope Kate and William enjoy their royal duty at least half as much as it seems like they do. But after so much silence on so many serious topics coming out from Harry, it’s always going to feel like a game of trying to figure out what the royals are hoping to address with the statements they do make.
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Before you go, click here to see the best photos of Prince Harry and Prince William growing up together over the years.