The Windsor Week: let's make it a keeper

We've had high profile TV interviews, so many engagements it's been hard to keep up with, fashion as a way of helping others and a man's sartorial choices making the biggest headlines. It's been a good week for the House of Windsor. Speaking very personally, this is how I want my royals to be. OK, I'm one voice but I'm going to share it anyway. If this is the future then all is looking rosy. Why have the past seven days worked so well for the bods at Buck House?

For a start, there's not been a day when we haven't had something jolly to talk about in the royal sphere. Her Majesty got it all started with her turn on BBC One last Sunday talking about the Crown Jewels. Since then we've had a steady stream of high profile engagements spread nicely across the week. Tuesday saw the Cambridges in Coventry, Thursday saw Harry and Meghan in Wales and Friday brought us Sophie in Decon. Drip, drip, drip, a steady stream of happy news. That's got to be good for any Royal Family.

There's been an air of accessibility, too. The rare sight of the Queen actually giving a broadcast interview was always going to win new fans and impress just about everybody. It could have been formal and a la 1950s and it still would have pulled in the punters. But when you tune in to the joyful sight of HM chucking her crown about like a pair of wellies about to go in the boot, a TV moment that will be talked about far and wide and remembered for a long time suddenly appears. Camilla also went cartoon on us again this week to launch BBC Radio 2's #500Words initiative and frankly there's nothing not to love about the Duchess of Cornwall appearing in drawing form in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang while reminding us all of the importance of literacy in a way that reaches out to thousands. That happened on social media which was a major tool for the Royal Family's message this week. Anne got her own photo album on Instagram to showcase her busy week while the controversial restoration work at Buckingham Palace got an attempt at the sweetening treatment as the official royal acconts shared images of vintage cigarette packets found during the project. When social media makes royal watching a 24 hour event that never stops, being accessible and in charge of that accessibility matters.

Which brings us to Meghan. Her walkabout in Cardiff on Thursday at the start of an afternoon of engagements with Harry had a really fresh air about it that has already reinvogorated the Windsor model. Meghan seems so at ease with meeting and greeting that she's already building a fan base all of her own. All her appearances so far have seen plenty of comments on how well she communicates. Getting modern messages out there matters for the Windsors. The air of stuffiness that can turn the Royal Family into a two dimensional cut out that's all to easy to knock was nowhere to be seen this week. Another reason why the past seven days have been a bit of a template for the year to come.

Words were an important part of that. Social media means pics of the Windsors are winging their way round the world within seconds, swirling through phones and laptops before they've even finished the walk from the car to the main engagement. What the royals say matters just as much but they have to make sure it's worth listenint to. This week was a winner, there, too. The Duchess of Cambridge made a speech as she opened a new facility at Great Ormond Street Hospital which got plenty of attention. Meghan told everyone Prince Harry was a feminist which again grabbed plenty of headlines. Pictures and commentary means the story gets told several times over.
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It also adds style to the substance which was another theme of this Windsor week. There was a huge amount of debate about the handbag Meghan carried in Cardiff. It's by DeMellier which states on its website that ''for every bag purchased we fund a set of lifesaving vaccines and treatments aimed to save the life of a child in need through A Bag, A Life''. The spotlight being shone on a good cause through fashion got Meghan lots of new fans. But perhaps the most interesting part of this week's royal style discussion was the fact that it was a chap who made the most headlines with his sartorial choices. Prince William got a buzz cut and landed a front page as a result. The decision of the future king to go SO short got people far more excited than anything anyone else royal wore all week. It raises an interesting question. It's a commonly accepted narrative that the clothes royal women wear now are of huge interest and if those looking on focus too much on that they are at fault for turning the queen/ princess/ duchess in question into nothing more than a barbie doll. But the response to William's hair cut indicates that perhaps what we're really interested in is the image our royals present to us. And that's not changed since Henry VIII's time.

Back to the present day. The other great thing about this week has been the geographic spread of the royal engagements. This is the quiet part of the regal year with the Christmas break only just winding to an end and already they've packed in the miles. As well as the Kensington Palace expeditions to the Midlands and Wales, we saw the Earl of Wessex spending a day in Cambridge while Sophie was in Devon during the week. Greater Manchester welcomed the Princess Royal who also headed to Wales during the week while the Queen was out and about in Norfolk as she visited the Sandringham Women's Institute, a regular in her diary. And that kind of brings us back to the beginning. Royalty in the 21st century is about mixing tradition with modernity, staying relevant while remaining regal. This Windsor week really did bring the whole lot to the table. Let's hope it's a keeper and the model of what we'll see in the rest of 2018.


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