There’s no drama to see here. So, if you want a quick wallow in imagined feuds, shuffle on. Yes, I know Prince Charles has just found out he’s related to EastEnders star, Danny Dyer, but there’s no anguished looks across a bar or the music kicking in for a cliffhanger finish. The set up of a separate household for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex is a natural and only to be expected progression. And one that raises plenty of interesting issues.
Keeping it light to start off with, what will the new household be known as? In this social media age, that was one of the first questions that popped up on, well, social media. Right now, William and Kate’s public life is covered alongside that of Harry and Meghan on the Kensington Palace Twitter and Instagram accounts. And you can keep quiet with your reminders that George, Charlotte and Louis tend to steal the most likes on both, I’m being shallow here, move along.
Although the new Sussex office is based in Buckingham Palace, I don’t think anyone is expecting that to be used as a new household name given its eternal association with the very person of the Monarch. Frogmore Cottage, their new home in Berkshire, is rather cute but very quaint and might lead to them fending off enquiries for bed and breakfast. It also depends on what’s available. With so many accounts following royals, the name of choice might already belong to someone in Bognor who likes posting updates on regal life.
In Sweden, Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia chose the does what it says on the tin ‘Prinsparet’ (meaning Prince Couple in Swedish) when they set up their channel and a nuts and bolts name might well do the trick here, too. Dukedom of Sussex? The Sussexes? With Meghan having several years of running a highly successful blog and social media accounts before her marriage, I’m guessing it will be something good.
Which leads us on to that most modern of questions – how many followers do you have? Right now, Kensington Palace’s Instagram has 7.1 million while its Twitter boasts 1.69 million. Presumably, a new account will start from scratch and enjoy a moment denied to us mere mortals, that of watching your follower count increase in tens of thousands by the second.
On a more serious note, this decision to split the two households makes total sense, and it’s been talked about for a long time, even before Harry met Meghan (yes, there was really a time when they weren’t a couple). The two princes aren’t joined at the hip, and they have their own interests and agendas. They’re married men (not exactly a spoiler, I know) with growing families (I’ve still got money on a fourth Cambridge baby), and the unwieldy notion of their joint office at Kensington Palace covering everything to do with two couples and their expanding families was looking increasingly difficult to sustain.
Besides, change is looming on the royal horizon, and they know that better than anyone.
All siblings see their lives move off in different directions and for William and Harry that’s exaggerated by the very different roles they know await them. The Duke of Cambridge will, in all probability, be heir to the throne at some point in the next ten to fifteen years and ultimately wear the Crown himself. He will take on constitutional responsibilities that Harry won’t, and within that same time frame, he and the Duchess of Cambridge will begin to prepare their own son to one day be King.
The Duke of Sussex is no longer the spare. Instead, Harry is a strong-minded royal who is carving out a place in the dynasty ruled by his grandmother knowing full well that his position and influence will alter in the reigns of Charles and William. The Sussexes aren’t waiting around to see what destiny brings. They know the kind of work they want to do, and they’re laying the foundations now for a life that will bring challenges unique to their roles. And two separate households can only support that work.
There’s bound to be a focus on this parting of the ways, particularly the end of that pair of princes who captured the public imagination from the very earliest years. William and Harry have achieved a lot individually and together, and let’s hope there is much, much more to come.
We’ll see two households run in parallel from now on, but the underlying support both the Cambridges and the Sussexes give to the Monarchy will no doubt remain the same even as their roles continue to change and diverge.