How The Cambridges Prove Royalty Can Achieve Privacy
With the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge returning to public life after the summer holidays, we look at how they've proved it's more than possible for public figures to live a private life.
SEPTEMBER 14th, 2021
arilyn Monroe once described the pursuit of a private life as “an enigma only you can control. If you want to be seen, you can. If you don’t, you can too.” Her words were in response to a British journalist asking her the question of whether she was able to visit parts of the UK after arriving in the country to begin filming ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’ in 1953. Due to her worldwide fame and star power, the journalist alluded that she was “too famous” to live a normal private life. “Fame exists because the star wants it to,” she would go on to say. “If I wanted to hide from the world I could. I’d stop dying my hair, stop wearing the gowns, and go by my real name, Norma Jeane Mortenson. But the world wants to see Marilyn and I quite like showing her off.”
There aren’t many people on the planet who have the presence or starpower of the late great Marilyn Monroe - certainly not in the celebrity world. Yet elsewhere there are those who come close, in particular, royalty. Throughout recent history we have seen the tenacious demand for royal coverage. With the likes of Princess Diana, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Harry and Meghan, the desire to look inside the inner world of The Royal Family has always been feverish. Where they’ve been, what they buy, how they live their day-to-day lives - these are questions that have existed from the days of a young Princess Elizabeth.
Through this, we have seen the media become much more bold in their approach to supply the answers to those questions. We all watched the tyrannical coverage of Princess Diana’s every move. Visits to theme parks with her sons, trips to the local shops, even her working out in the private rooms of her local gym were covered throughout the pages of every media outlet across the globe. For all of her near-seventy years of reigning, the Queen has faced constant attempts to invade her privacy, and in recent years we’ve seen the battles between the media and the younger generation of royals on where the boundaries between private and public begin and end.
Yet, over the last two months, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have achieved what some members of the institution had once deemed impossible - living a private life away from the public eye. Since the Euro 2021 final at Wembley Stadium the Cambridge’s have effectively vanished off the face of the earth. Until the recent coverage of the Duke of Cambridge’s visit to meet with First Responders on Friday 9th of September, neither of the couple hadn’t been seen in public. In fact their absence became so noticeable, gossip sites began to “speculate” as to why. This speculation highlighted how certain elements of the media have become duped by the protestations from certain members within the royal institution that privacy isn’t possible. Well, the Cambridges are making it very clear that it is.
It hasn’t always been perfect for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge when it comes to privacy, and there have been the occasional scrapes with the court when the paparazzi actively cross the line. Take the deeply intrusive photos of the Duchess topless in a private French villa in 2012 being circulated across many of Europe’s celebrity magazines. Kate took the magazine which published the images to court, winning £92,000 in 2017 after a lengthy court battle. What was remarkable at that time, was the couple were midway through a highly important tour of South East Asia and were told the existence of the photographs thirty seconds before an engagement. For Prince William, the anger was clearly etched across every sinew of his face, yet for the Duchess of Cambridge her smile never once faltered. The lack of reaction effectively cut the story’s runtime short, and the appallingly indecent invasion of privacy actively set the couple on a new strategy to ensure their private lives remain so.
William and Kate began to set clear boundaries, specifically around their children. Kate actively pursued her passion for photography, taking the official images of George, Charlotte and Louis herself, and then releasing the photos to the media. The couple became more determined on what engagements their children would appear, and whilst understanding that the public wanted to see them as they grow up, a balance would be actively enforced to ensure the Cambridge children were able to be just that - children.
That ‘balance’ has been successfully achieved by the couple. We have rarely seen George, Charlotte and Louis in public. Yet with George in particular, the little prince is beginning to emerge into the spotlight more and more as he gets older, though his parents are taking the process slowly. It is an approach which will reap dividends as the years progress. Where the torment of Prince William watching his parents publicly scrap for attention as their bitter divorce unfolded scarred him deeply, for his children that future does not beckon. They will have a greater understanding of how the system works, the pros and cons of living in a world of public service, as well as the importance of a stable private life. William and Kate have actively created a stable foundation of which their children can build upon.
In recent months, the balance achieved by the royal couple has fully demonstrated how effective it is. For almost two months we have not seen one single photograph of the Cambridges out and about in their day-to-day lives. There has not been an ounce of direct intrusion into their private lives, and although the constant drama surrounding Harry and Meghan occasionally drags the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge into the orbit of drama, they have, for all intents and purposes, achieved a level of privacy many within The Royal Family have only dreamt of.
It is worth noting that the family of five spent a week-long holiday on the Scilly Isles, off the coast of Cornwall. They’ve spent days out at local parks and we’re spotted by locals hiking through Norfolk, close to their home, Anmer Hall. A traditional week spent with the Queen at Balmoral rounded off the summer holidays, and the entire family even travelled to France for the wedding of the Duchess’s younger brother James Middleton. Not one part of their summer was photographed. There were no images of the Cambridge’s boarding a plane to France or arriving at Balmoral. There were no great declarations to the media of where they had been or what they had been up to. No sources came forward to describe how their holidays went. For the majority of those two months, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge lived in understated, perfect privacy.
So how have they achieved it?
It’s really quite simple. By avoiding the spotlight, by understanding the tried and tested words of Marilyn Monroe - that their fame and privacy is truly an enigma only they can control. Don’t speak to the press and they can’t misquote you. Don’t make your private life the foundation of your brand, and then you won’t become defined, and ultimately controlled, by it. If you want a private life, then practice what you preach and live a private life. It really isn’t that hard, our future King and Queen prove it so.
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