At least there won’t be a flotilla. Overnight Buckingham Palace announced the full roster of major activities planned to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next year and one of the biggest takeaways, thank god, is that the whole glorious pomp-stuffed endeavour will take place entirely on terra firma, not a vessel on The Thames in sight.
Back in 2012, the Queen marked her Diamond Jubilee, the highlight of which was a 1000-boat strong procession of vessels, the biggest spectacle of its sort in 350 years.
Proving that the Almighty either has a naughty sense of humour or is an avowed republican, it rained, casting a pall over proceedings and leading to Prince Philip ending up in hospital with an infection.
So, land ho then chaps.
However, the bunting-heavy celebration will likely create a much bigger and more pernicious headache for runaway royals and newbie content creators Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
See, exactly this time next year four days worth of celebrations will kick off to mark Her Majesty’s 70-years on the throne. To start, there will be a full-scale Trooping the Colour, featuring 1400 soldiers, 400 musicians and 200 horses and an RAF fly-past, followed by a series of beacons being lit across Britain, the Isle of Man and UK overseas territories.
The next day, there will be a service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s before the entire royal family will trot along to the Derby at Epsom. Later that day, the BBC will produce and broadcast the Platinum Party at the Palace that will include Ed Sheeran, Sir Tom Jones, Robbie Williams, Kylie Minogue, and Sir Elton John.
Then will come a series of street parties across the country called The Big Jubilee Lunch finally concluding with something called the Platinum Jubilee Pageant, which will involve more than 5000 people and will happen against the backdrop of Buckingham Palace.
At most of these events Her Majesty’s family will most likely be front and centre, giving us the deliciously bonkers prospect of seeing Take That’s Gary Barlow and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall sharing a stage in the not-too-distant future.
The most obvious question here is, will Harry and Meghan be there? However, the far more interesting question here is, can the Sussexes afford not to?
The past four months have been characterised by a wholly unprecedented, blistering barrage of broadsides from the couple at the palace, having charged them with racism, cruelty, neglect and bullying.
Harry’s brief return to the UK in April for Philip’s funeral hardly seemed to move the dial with only the very conspicuous, brief public conversation between Harry and brother Prince William managing to save the entire August occasion from being totally eclipsed by reports of fraternal froideur.
It’s a fairly dismal state of affairs, but now, with the announcement of next year’s schedule of events, the clock is ticking and there is a new urgency to this situation.
Things remaining as fraught between London and Montecito as they currently stand is simply not an option, for anyone involved.
For the palace, they need, despite their repeated and prim protestations that they are getting on with things, to once and for all draw a line under this disastrous chapter. As long as this whole sour, sad situation drags on, it will represent a constant distraction from the business of the monarchy.
If Harry and Meghan, for whatever reason, fail to end up among the throng on the balcony for next year’s Trooping the Colour, all big smiles and Philip Treacy hats, their absence would overshadow the whole day and become the much juicier story. Platinum what? Queen who?
For the Sussexes themselves, leaving the trans-Atlantic bond to fray even further and resolutely staying away is not an option.
Via their myriad recent media appearances they have become known as the global anti-royal agitators par excellence, their brand defined by their ‘sticking it to his gan-gan’ routine.
While at the moment their speaking truth to power, anti-institutional schtick is going down a treat in the US, there is every chance there will come a point when they will exhaust the well of sympathy and when a certain fatigue will set in.
Right now their brand is defined in opposition to the royal house, which may well work in the short term and in this political and cultural moment. But in the long term? That’s another question entirely.
There will come a point when, personal feelings and family ties notwithstanding, they will need to put this current period of acrimonious press carping behind them and get on with doing impressive philanthropic things of note if they want to keep enjoying their lofty status.
Complicating things here will be what William and Kate will likely be getting up to next year. In 2012, senior HRHs were spun out across the globe to various Commonwealth countries with the same thing likely to happen in 2022.
(Back then, not only did William and Kate visit Australia but Charles and Camilla did too. Harry, meanwhile, was sent off on his first solo overseas jaunt representing the Queen in Belize, the Bahamas and Jamaica.)
Against this backdrop of renewed jubilant, flag-waving royal coverage next year, any sort of continued anti-palace campaign is not only going to look tired but start to take on a vindictive hue.
Which is to say, it is equally in Harry and Meghan’s interest to, at some stage, do their bit to resolve this festering family feud.
(Patching things up would not also be the savvy move for Harry and Meghan because at some stage they will need to go back and touch the hem to get a nice fresh injection of that royal magic.)
After Buckingham Palace’s announcement overnight, no longer can a reconciliation between Harry, Meghan and The Firm be put off to some unspecified future date, up there on the to-do list between returning all the purloined Indian treasures in the royal collection and declawing the Queen’s new corgi.
With only 364 days to go, what could possibly go wrong?
Tick tock people, tick tock.
• Daniela Elser is a royal expert and a writer with more than 15 years experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media titles.
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