In the wild west of royal news coverage and commentary, you can guarantee one thing: birthdays ending in zero will always be met with big, splashy puff pieces detailing the achievements, attributes and sartorial successes of the family member in question. It’s a rare moment where scandal gets the day off and, if the royal is lucky enough, they may even get a glossy newspaper photo supplement to boot, too.
The turn of Prince William’s 40th, which he celebrates today (“privately” with his wife and children at home, I’m told), has been no different. It not only comes at a seminal moment in the Windsor story but also at a time when his senior role is more important to the Firm than ever before. Though Prince Charles is next in line, it’s William’s turn that many within the institution feel has the true potential to breathe modernity into the establishment.
The safe space of a birthday profile usually sees palace aides keen to get involved. Rarely in an official capacity (William’s co-operative moment was saved for Big Issue—a move that tied in nicely with his ongoing interest in tackling homelessness), but more often quiet, behind-the-scenes help in the form of allowing former staff to speak on or off the record, or helping fill gaps with anonymous source quotes…
When Kate turned 30 in 2012, I remember being pleasantly surprised at how—only a year into my time covering the young royals—Kensington Palace officials were more than happy to assist as I put together a special issue of a popular US magazine. The Duke of Cambridge has made helping the homeless one of his personal missions. (PA)
wThe big one for the Duke of Cambridge this time around came on Saturday in the form of an “intimate portrait” in Britain’s Daily Mail—a paper whose complicated relationship with the royals has ebbed and flowed over the decades but is currently very close. Splashed over several pages, it promised to reveal the “true story” of a king in the making, thanks to generous contributions from those closest to William.