I’m not a royalist at all. But as I sit here watching a video of Prince William, his wife Kate (Duchess of Cambridge), and their two children, George and Charlotte, walking down the steps of their plane as they arrived yesterday in western Canada, I feel a little bit overwhelmed with emotion.
Why? Because this is the last bastion of real class in terms of elegance, grace and dignity. We could learn from this. OK, so we might not have a royal expense account to keep us kitted out in Missoni, Balmain and Lanvin and, yes, the Royal visits basically involve a lot of posing and platitudes. But in this age of vulgarity, incivility and violence, we could all use a little class and glamour right now.
I think Prince William is a star. Ever since his mother was killed, here in Paris, in that horrendous car crash caused by the French driver who lost control because he was drunk, my heart has gone out to him. William was 15 at the time, his brother Harry 12. I’ll never forget the expression of utter shame and embarrassment on President Chirac’s face as he greeted Prince Charles on the tarmac at a Paris military airport. Charles had flown over to collect Diana’s body in a plain wooden casket. She was 36 years old. What a tragic, stupid, senseless death (as any death is caused by a drunk driver). I’ll never forget the funeral procession that wound its way through the streets of London on September 6, 1997; the cortege that broke a million hearts. Not a dry eye in the world. The most poignant scene, of course, was that of William and Harry walking behind their dead mother’s coffin as it rode on a gun carriage to Westminster Abbey. So stoic, so British stiff upper lip they were, even at that young age.
And now William’s all grown up, married and the father of two children. He’s been in the world spotlight his entire life.
In case you’re thinking that the Royals are just a bunch of lazy layabouts, you’re wrong. Research from the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) reveals that the Queen is among the world’s greatest supporters of charities and has helped the many organisations of which she is patron raise over £1.4 billion.
The Queen is patron to 510 charities in Britain, including Cancer Research UK, the British Red Cross and Barnado’s. The wider Royal Family support a grand total of 2,415 charities in Britain, with this figure rising to almost 3,000 worldwide.