With the Prince of Wales testing positive for Coronavirus and the Queen in self-isolation, it now falls to the Duke of Cambridge to lead the way.
There was universal shock at the news that HRH The Prince of Wales had tested positive for Coronavirus, forcing the Heir Apparent into self-isolation. With the diagnosis came the stark reality that both the Queen and her Heir were unable to physically lead the country through the greatest pandemic its ever faced. And whilst Her Majesty is scheduled to record an address to the Nation – only the fourth time in her long reign – her founding sentiments of duty and leadership must now skip a generation, landing on the shoulders of her grandson and second-in-line to the Throne, Prince William.
Make no mistake, the Queen will actively direct her grandson, and so will his father, on the best actions to take. Yet the task facing the Duke of Cambridge is an astronomical one; providing calm guidance, yet sympathetic and unwavering support for the people who will be most affected by the outbreak. It will be the biggest challenge William has ever faced as a fully-fledged working Royal, and throughout recent years the Duke has proved that he is well equipped to fulfill the role.
In 2018, William visited Israel, becoming the first member of The Royal Family to do so within an official capacity. Through his warmth, empathy and respectful approach, he won over all those who interacted with him. With his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge back home in the UK, pregnant with the couple’s third child Prince Louis, the Duke stepped out from behind the constant commentary of his wife’s fashion and showcased the stateman-like aura he has nurtured in recent years.
The tour was a comprehensive success and cemented the trajectory of William’s destined future – to the Throne. The approaching months will nudge the Duke of Cambridge ever closer to that inevitable position. One day, he could well lead the country through future crises, not as a backup, but as the figure the Nation looks to for comfort and assurance.
What is always the biggest task for any Monarch in unpredictable times, such as the one we are now facing, is the timing and tone in communicating with the public. When do you address the Nation? What do you say? How do you deliver the messaging, so you strike the correct ambience whilst bringing the country along with you? It is a metaphorical tightrope and one which can be perilous if it goes wrong.
Going forward William will feel the heavy weight of these questions on his shoulders, but we have already seen his ability to answer them with a natural instinct.
In response to the horrific terror attack in New Zealand in 2019, the Duke visited the town of Christchurch to pay his respects to the local community. At a local Mosque he delivered a speech that perfectly balanced the heartfelt condolences of the Royal institution, whilst successfully reminding the devastated locals that they would overcome in the face of such senseless brutality.
He was universally praised for his speech, and once again provided a glimpse into the type of King he will one day become.
As the pandemic unfolds, numerous Royals have reacted to the crisis through social media. But the more we see and hear, the more apparent it becomes that the Cambridge’s are the couple who have been entrusted to lead the Royal Family and the Nation through this uncertain maelstrom.
The Duke and Duchess have already promoted the National Defence Fund, opened by William last year. The Fund’s Coronavirus Appeal has already raised an impressive £11 million in one week. The couple have visited NHS staff working on the front line at a call centre specifically for Coronavirus assistance. The unannounced engagement was commended for providing a boost in morale for those who will be facing this pandemic head on. And to celebrate Mother’s Day, Kensington Palace shared a collection of stunning photographs to commemorate the Duchess, her mother Carole and William’s mother Diana, Princess of Wales.
Though it was perhaps the image of Prince George’s card to his mother that made even the frostiest of hearts melt.
These images may have seemed like a simple gesture of celebration, but their meaning was much more than skin deep. For a few hours the national conversation trickled away from the impending panic and concern over the Coronavirus pandemic, and instead focused on a young, happy family who are striving to keep morale high. It was, in essence great PR, not necessarily for the Royal Family or the Cambridge’s, but for the collective notion that we’re all in this together whether your royal or not.
It was fantastic to see the conversation online shift from the shattering spike in UK Coronavirus deaths, to the mutual agreement that Catherine’s resemblance to her mother was beyond profound. It was also hilarious to see grown adults embarrassed that a six-year-old Prince’s art talents far outrivalled their own.
This strategy invoked by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge clearly show us that they have successfully discovered the balance between royal and real to effectively steer the nation through the next months. It will be an unparalleled test for the Duke and Duchess, but specifically for William. With his brother effectively on lockdown in Canada, his father and grandparents in isolation, the Duke of Cambridge must face this challenge with limited support. But that support comes in the shape of William’s greatest cheerleader, his ultimate support network, his future Queen-Consort – the Duchess of Cambridge.
The next few months could well be the making of the future King and Queen. Over the last few years, they have rarely put a foot wrong. And with each passing year, we have witnessed their increased confidence in their roles and inevitable futures.
In short, in the absence of the Queen and the Prince of Wales, there is no one more equipped for the unenviable task of leading the country against this virus than the Duke of Cambridge. With his growing stoic resolve and empathetic outlook, his voice and leadership will be vital in the coming months.
But this test will be much greater than navigating an unpredictable pandemic. It will be a unique insight into The Royal Family under William’s eventual reign, and in which direction he sees the monarchy heading in the future.
If the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge get this right, and its highly likely they will, then it will provide great relief for Her Majesty after a turbulent year in 2019 and an even more dramatic start to 2020.
William, for all intents and purposes, is an honorary Monarch, upholding the values of his visibly absent grandmother and father, whilst trusting his intuitive and responsible nature to guide the country through this pandemic. Over the past few months he has proven just how vital he and Catherine are to the Monarchy, and that when his time comes to sit upon the most famous Royal Throne in the world – he’ll be the King his country not only wants, but needs.
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