Britain’s favorite couple has recently come under fire in the press. Photos of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (or as they are more commonly called, Prince William and Princess Kate) with their two young children, Prince George, who is now 2 and a half, and Princess Charlotte, who will turn 1 in May. Kensington Palace released photos from their hush-hush trip to the French Alps, which was kept secret from the press in order to maintain privacy. The palace said that it was their first vacation as a family of four and the first time that either of the children had played in the snow. Adorable pictures of the family -- including one where Kate throws a snowball right into William's face -- were taken by a hired photographer and released to the media. Together, these conditions made any chance for the paparazzi to snap a photo less than a snowball's chance in a Texan summer.
The photos were released by the palace after the royals’ return to the United Kingdom. These actions are fairly consistent with the press policy that was established when William and his younger brother, Prince Harry, were younger -- privacy was to be respected, and photo opportunities would be mutually agreed upon at events such as birthdays. This was a particularly sensitive topic for the royal family after the loss of Princess Diana in 1997, as the blame for the fatal car crash was often placed on the paparazzi who were hounding the car in which she was riding.
Yet, media privacy has remained a problem for the royals. Paparazzi have been following Will and Kate ever since they were students at St. Andrews, and they haven’t let up. Breaches of the laid-out rules have appeared in the press and photographers both at home in the UK and in other countries have been fined. So why is it such a big deal that the Duke and Duchess are aiming for -- and getting -- a private vacation for once?
To put it simply, the monarchy in Britain is not what it once was. In today’s government, their roles are largely ceremonial, with the large majority of politics and policies organized by the Prime Minister and Parliament. Will and Kate, however, serve in plenty of ways. William works as a pilot with the East Anglian Air Ambulance and donates his full salary to the Air Ambulance charity. He is a Counsellor of State, the President of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (the BAFTAs), a patron of Centrepoint (a charity which helps the homeless which his mother supported before her death), a patron of the Tusk Trust, the President of England’s Football Association, the vice royal patron of the Welsh Rugby Union, a patron of the English Schools’ Swimming Association, the President of the British charity Fields in Trust, and the President of the British Sub-Aqua Club. The Duchess is a patron of Action on Addiction, East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices, The Art Room, The National Portrait Gallery London, Place2Be, SportsAid, The Natural History Museum, and the 1851 Trust. Together, along with Prince Harry, they created The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, which has three main philanthropic branches -- the first being the Armed Forces (both William and Harry have served in military capacities), Young People, and Conservation. In addition, they are spouses to each other and parents to two very young children. Anyone who has ever worked as a babysitter knows how hard watching kids is for a few hours of paid work. Anyone who actually is a parent knows that it’s exponentially more difficult when you are responsible for raising decent human beings and providing for them in every way, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. To do it under the critical eye of the entire world -- and especially of the media -- has to be damn near impossible.
To put it simply, I propose that the next time that the Duke and Duchess take four days off to raise their kids, we let them do it without jumping all over them.