Don’t be fooled by William and Kate’s latest housing move - GulfToday

Don’t be fooled by William and Kate’s latest housing move


Prince William and Kate Middleton

One of the odder royal customs is how they name what seem to the rest of us to be unimaginably vast mansions – or at least substantial period country homes – as “cottages”. God knows what they call actual cottages. Matchboxes, I suppose.  Harry and Meghan occupy one called “Frogmore Cottage” – which apparently cost about £2.4 million just to renovate and has 10 bedrooms (which, I can’t help observing, could house at least a couple of Ukrainian refugee families for the longueurs when the Sussexes are busy at their even larger house in California). Apparently, this is all because they are in search of a more “normal” existence. Good luck with that. Not to be outdone, Wills and Kate have now humble-bagged “Adelaide Cottage”. This one dates back to the early decades of the 19th century and seems substantial, rustic and handsome enough; with “expansive” gardens (but just the four bedrooms). In what must be a royal version of the cost of living crisis, the poor old Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will have to do without live-in servants at their new gaff – though naturally the assorted flunkies, nannies and factotums won’t be far away. Neither will 96-year old Nan.

Actually, though, the Cambridges will also retain use of their 20 room apartment at Kensington Palace; plus the 10-room Anmer Hall near Sandringham. So that’s, say, 34 rooms altogether.

The Cambridges have long struck an image reminiscent of the household of George VI, a simple Norfolk countryman at heart. But their lifestyle seems as lavish as any of their predecessors – since the Prince Regent disgusted the nation with his feckless, self-indulgent ways two centuries ago. They might wear slacks and high street fashion, and display perfectly sincere concern for those less fortunate – but they are not “one of us”.

It may well contain a certain amount of spin, but for whatever reason they’re going to spend less time around Sandringham and London, and more in Royal Berkshire – which is where Windsor’s spacious grounds offer more privacy and what passes for “normal”. Normal for Windsor now means sending the children to private schools in the vicinity, with fees a reported £25,000 per year, per child. In due course, their home will be handy for Eton – where the baby princes will no doubt bump into little Wilfred and Romy Johnson. The traditional network that binds the ruling classes together will be weaved together for another generation. It doesn’t sit right, really, in these troubled times. Plus, it tends to detract from the charitable work and public duties they have to carry out, and the support of the population they rely on for their opulent lifesyle. As it happens, I’ve been idly thinking about moving lately, and my mind has tuned to what it might be like to have access to “Royal Rightmove”. Some of the search parameters would be similar. There’d be a drop-down menu for the number of bedrooms, for example, and options for whether you need a garden or parking; but also additional categories for servants’ quarters and somewhere for the 24/7 protection squad to hang out. And, unlike the one the rest of us use, there’d be no minimum or maximum budget – and no queries about mortgage brokers. In the Royal Housing Service, everything is completely free at the point of use – and there’s no queuing. I don’t think they need to worry about the gas bill, either.

So that’s my misrerabilist take on the whole Cambridges-move-house news, and I’m not even a republican. Others, I fear, will be less tolerant of such conspicuous consumption in hard times, and this will erode confidence in the institution of monarchy, which is on balance a good thing (unlike Liz Truss, I’ve always thought so). I was taken, for example, by a tweet from someone with the Twitter handle “Revolting-Subject”, who commented on Prince William’s latest plea to preserve the habitats of endangered species: “Prince William – who has 3 kids, lives in 4 mansions & prefers to travel by private jet is keen to blame…er…poverty stricken families in Africa for environmental destruction.

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