Prince William and his family are moving to London.
Well, not right away.
Starting this autumn, “the duke and duchess will increasingly base their family at Kensington Palace,” explained an announcement from their household, based at the same London palace. “Prince George will begin school in London in September and Princess Charlotte will also go to nursery and eventually school in London as well.”
That a change not being put into action for approximately eight months was revealed on Friday, Jan. 20, a day when the world is focused on the inauguration of the new U.S. president, suggests the household wanted to get the information out without generating negative headlines. Because there have been plenty of those lately, most of them focused on their royal duties, or lack thereof. In late December, as annual royal work statistics were published, royal watchers pointed out that the combined engagement total of William, Kate and Prince Harry didn’t even add up to that of the Queen, 90. “Kate and William are slammed for doing HALF the official engagements Charles and Diana did at the same age,” screamed the Daily Mail.
For the last 18 months or so, Prince William has spent 20 hours a month working as a pilot for Bond Air Services, a private firm under contract with the East Anglican Air Service (EEAA), located near their country home in Norfolk. “His Royal Highness will finish his role with the EAAA in the summer in line with his commitment to fly with them for two years,” the announcement stated. “It has been a huge privilege to fly with the East Anglia Air Ambulance,” William is quoted. “Following on from my time in the military, I have had experiences in this job I will carry with me for the rest of my life, and that will add a valuable perspective to my Royal work for decades to come.” (Left unsaid is the gap between his military stint ending in 2013 and the air ambulance contract starting in 2015.”)
With the move to London, Prince William and his wife, Kate, are going to be full-time royals.
That’s not explicitly made clear in the statement: “As they have in recent years, Their Royal Highnesses are keen to continue to increase their official work on behalf of The Queen and for the charities and causes they support, which will require greater time spent in London.” Yet, after years of criticism that they don’t do much royal work, it’s hard to imagine they will live around the corner from their relatives and not put in more hours. “Sorry, Gran. I know you’ve like me to come with you to [fill in the blank] and [another event] but this is my week off,” isn’t going to pass muster.
Furthermore, no one should be of the illusion that they are moving into cramped quarters in London. Apartment 1A may sound like a small, two-bedroom walk-up tucked around the corner from a big house, but this is Kensington Palace. Apartment 1A is the largest, most luxurious townhouse in the place, complete with a large walled garden. Once home to Princess Margaret—not a royal to live in anything other than full-on splendour—it was completely renovated and updated before the Cambridges moved in. Few pictures have been released, but this gives you an idea of its size:
The Duke, Duchess and Prince Harry chat with the President and First Lady before dinner at Kensington Palace pic.twitter.com/vWCru1ifDW
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) April 22, 2016
With this announcement, William and Kate have likely bought some breathing room from more critical headlines. It will be interesting to see if they are proactive and get a jump on increasing their royal duties between now and the autumn, or whether they continue at the same pace throughout the spring and summer months.