The King of Cringe: Will and Kate are in Boston. Want the Gossip?

photo credit: Washington Post

In a trip that was planned for months, if not for years, Prince William and Catherine, Princess of Wales arrived in Boston yesterday as part of a three-day trip to launch their Earthshot Prize — $6 million in grants to entrepreneurs making a difference on climate change.

As they were in the air flying over the Great Pond on a commercial flight (unlike certain other people who fly on private jets *cough*), news broke that a 83-year old aide to Queen Camilla massively stuck her foot in her mouth. 

Camilla was hosting a function for activists involved with stopping domestic abuse, which is one of her pet causes, when Lady Susan Hussey — a woman has been a friend/staffer/semi-family for the royal family for 60 years — started a small talk conversation with a guest, Ngozi Fulani who runs a charity for domestic abuse victims in London. The conversation went south. 

Hussey asked Fulani where she was from in Africa. Fulani said she was from London. These questions, which were no doubt hurtful and annoying, went back and forth a few times. (Full conversation at the Wash Post.) Super awkward. 

I get dumb and hurtful questions about autism from old people all the time. What is he covering his ears during the parade? Doesn’t he like the gun sounds? Why won’t he chat with me about his school day? Why can’t he sit down at the dining room table for an hour like his cousins? While racism and ablism aren’t the same, I understand that questions can hurt. However, when those things happen, I don’t typically run home and tweet out the ignorant comments and publicly identify the identity of the senior citizen to embarrass them on a world state. And then go on talk shows and ask for money

Before that commercial flight hit the tarmac at Logan International Airport, Lady Susan was fired and an official statement was issued. But the damage has been done. Some people are very invested in portraying the Royal Family as racist, and they were just given a juicy steak. There is zero way that they are going to back away from this fight. 

Harry and Meghan have invested millions of dollars in branding themselves as the royals overseas. America is their turf, and Will and Kate threaten their status. Will and Kate have quietly made a point of not mentioning the other couple, nor making any effort to make a public visit. As they did at Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, the royal family is simply pretending that the problematic prince and his wife do not exist. 

Much of the gossip on the web has made a point of contrasting Will and Kate’s big budget, high profile trip to Boston, where their foundation will be giving out serious money, with Harry and Meghan’s foundation that has struggled to get off the ground. (I have some very strong feelings about celebrity foundations, but we’ll save that rant for another day.) 

This Boston trip has also been contrasted with Meghan’s recent invitation to a Marriot in downtown Indianapolis, and with the controversial award that they’re getting next week by the RFK foundation. An affair that a young Prince Harry had with some lady from the Real Housewives series led to much mockery. Her much-promoted podcast fizzled out, not on any “most popular” lists.

Apparently, those in Monticito are very aware of the controversy brewing online. According to Enty from Crazy Days and Nights, Meghan checks the Internet gossip on herself every hour. He also had some other good tea on them in the past few weeks. 

Alright, let’s go back to that “Ripple of Hope” award that Meghan and Harry are going to get from the RFK foundation next week. Last week, many wondered why Meghan and Harry were getting an humanitarian award, when their foundation hasn’t actually given out any money yet. Kerry Kennedy said the award was deserved, because of their work in uncovering “structural racism” in the British monarchy. Some whispered that Kennedy’s connections to the director of the new Netflix movie might have been a factor. Other whispered that Harry wanted to back out of this award or accept it remotely with a pre-recorded speech. 

What have Harry and Meghan said about racism in the royal family? They said that someone wondered about the color of the skin of their unborn baby. And they hinted that the only reason that people didn’t like Meghan was because they and the whole country is racist. (Meghan, by the way, is only slightly less hated in the UK than Prince Andrew. Apparently, labeling an entire country as “racist” does not engender kind feelings among its citizens.) But before this incident, Meghan and Harry didn’t have any real examples of racism. So, now they do. They and their minions are going to destroy this old lady’s life. Nice. 

But Harry and Meghan are not going to just sit back and let the sharks attack their brother and sister-in-law. Instead, they let off another blast from the cannon this morning with the release of a trailer for their mysterious Netflix show, which is going to come out next week after MUCH DRAMA. 

Can you imagine? Your brother needs three days of American press attention on a project that he’s been working on for years. And during that precise moment, you give the okay for the PR hounds to hijack that moment. Does this sound like a functional family? 

There is clearly much resentment going on, which will be saved for his memoir in January. One of Harry’s issues is apparently that he was told to back down from championing environmental issues — his father was on the forefront on this issue — because this topic was William’s baby. And William as at the future king gets first choice of policy issues and pretty much everything, because *news flash* it’s a monarchy. 

Will and Kate’s trip to Boston is unraveling. On camera, they look sad and fragile. Too cautious to be charismatic, they never quite had the star power to command attention, despite all the nice clothes and pageantry. So swimming through this controversy won’t be easy for them. 

There’s no doubt that Will and Kate are working hard and diligently maintaining the Queen’s service ethic, even though they could conceivably shut down the show and live quite nicely on one of their private estates and off their billions of private cash. One gets the feeling that both of them would prefer to be quietly drinking some tea in their wellies in Scotland country-side, rather than being the center of attention at a Celitcs game. But they are maintaining the family tradition of martyrdom for their family and British institutions, and for that, I can’t help but cheer them on.

A few years ago, I developed an unusual interest in the British Royal Family. From time to time, I do a brain-dump and write blog posts about them. For the whole series of blog posts about the Royal Family, tag: royal mess. To start from the beginning, start here.

13 thoughts on “The King of Cringe: Will and Kate are in Boston. Want the Gossip?

  1. Senior citizens, including 83 year olds, are not sweet, doddering idiots who cannot possibly be expected to avoid saying racist things at fancy public events to CEOs of charities. It doesn’t sound as if she is suffering from dementia – if you read that conversation it’s clear she feels she has the right to interrogate the CEO about where “her people” are from. She made an issue of it. That CEO had every right to publicize her statements, taking place at a public event intended to honor people like her who are fighting against domestic violence!

    If the royal family has been letting her represent them at formal events – not just visiting with her privately, as you might do with an old family friend – that *does* say something about them. They’re supposed to be the representative of the country, and they need to choose their representatives carefully.


  2. In my life, I give 80-years a lot of grace to say stupid things, but maybe others don’t do that. Whatever. The other point… Buckingham Palace immediately fired her and said her comments were unacceptable. Seems like a proper response. Also, this woman wasn’t even a paid staffer. She was in this weird area of being part family-friend, part employee. The royal family is sprawling and their support staff is huge, too. They do need to tighten up their ranks, which they are trying to do now. But its a big sprawling mess.


  3. Yeah…I have to mildly disagree on the 80 year olds will 80 year old take.

    What stands out for me is that this kind of event, particularly for people who are there officially, comes with all kinds of coaching and training on etiquette. I’ve attended an event with British Royals (I was very much in the background) and the amount of information we got was – a lot. And it was both delivered in writing in advance, and we had a few minutes on the spot of coaching. Same with other dignitaries.

    If people who are regularly a part of this system are asking persistent questions about background based on skin colour, and continuing to insist that people with dark skin cannot actually simply identify as British, either they are willfully racist or the training and etiquette still hasn’t caught up to basic diversity and inclusion standards. And that does implicate either the individual or the system.

    I mean we have this training about not asking people “where are you from?” in my tiny small business, as part of both our customer service and our anti-harassment training, because it is that basic. Yes, we’re more aware than your on-the-street person, but we’re not The Firm.

    I think that does implicate the system as a whole.


    1. Well, now I want to know more about your “British Royal” adjacent event. Mine includes a story in which a classmate (who had received the same fellowship as me) sat next to Prince Andrew at a gathering at our university. She said that her field was heat transfer, and he asked her “how do you transfer heat”. She thought that was very funny. But, we were all nerds who did not know how to make polite conversation.

      (I think I’ve told this story before on this blog, which says something, too).


      1. Very late to the answering but it was an event with Princess Margaret at the Princess Margaret hospital where I was volunteering. Super boring, nothing to report. 🙂


    2. “If people who are regularly a part of this system are asking persistent questions about background based on skin colour, and continuing to insist that people with dark skin cannot actually simply identify as British, either they are willfully racist or the training and etiquette still hasn’t caught up to basic diversity and inclusion standards.”: yes, absolutely, this is a great way to put it. I suspect Miss Manners would agree. In private life I cut 80 year olds a lot of slack too, but a) they are not public figures; and b) talking to them as if they are real people capable of handling new information is a sign of respect!


  4. I think I’ve mentioned this before on this blog, but I do really admire how the BRF gives out awards to little groups doing good deeds in their communities and shows up to do photo ops with soup kitchens and shelters. There’s no equivalent here in the states.


    1. Politicians in the US do this. I actually teared up when the ED of the organization I volunteer with received an award from the County. The Representative wrote a little speech honoring the organization that riffed off the name of our organization. The mayor came to our grand opening and celebrated with us, too. I guess another equivalent in the US would be celebrities?

      You might see the BRF differently because they are not asking for your vote and thus you interpret their action with less cynicism But, those appearances is how they justify their existence and much much higher lifestyles and perks. We can’t have the same thing since I don’t think we have people with the degree of hereditary privilege they have. Ex presidents who can’t run again? But they are still political.


      1. I do, too, mostly because the people they are “investing” find it so memorable. There’s a scene in “Windsor Knot” (Queen EII starring in British murder mystery book) where a key plot twist is the memorability of these investitures.

        It costs the Brits a 100 million a year (though the math is always complicated) and I don’t know what the long term future for the Brits is either, given that only 30% of 18-24 year olds support the monarchy (62% of all Brits do). Will the young’ns become more friendly as they age? Maybe, as the people and the monarchy become more of the status quo they’ve experienced.

        I think it’s beautiful that Jimmy Carter used to show up to hammer nails for low income housing. But, even that would be seen through a political lens by many Americans.


  5. UK travel and tourism contributed 131 Billion GBP in 2021.

    This figure is “way below pre-pandemic levels.” The royal family is an enormous draw for tourists, internationally, if only that it reminds people watching the evening news, “Hey, I could visit the UK.” The return on that 100 million is significant.

    In addition, if part of that 100 million includes upkeep on royal properties, those are costs that would be covered by the nation anyways, unless they’d decide to let the palaces decay or sell them to foreign billionaires.


    1. Not to mention the costs of electing the replacements. How much does the US spend every 4 years electing a president?


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