Kate, Princess of Wales, knows a thing or two about accessorising.
She’s perfected the art of pairing the occasional priceless bauble, the value of which could shift a smaller nation’s GDP, with something twinkly and plastic from Zara.
Take her appearance on Thursday night, UK time, at the Royal Variety Performance where she paired a customised Safiyaa dress with fake pearl earrings that came from J. Crew.
However, given what has been happening over the last 48 hours in London, it would not have been that much of a surprise if the princess added the flak jacket and helmet she wore recently while having a go on a tank in her new guise as Colonel-in-Chief of The Queen’s Dragoon Guards.
Right now, the princess is under attack. The source of this enemy fire – a book.
In fact, a book has not caused the royal family this much trouble since Edward VI and the advent of the Book of Common Prayer. (It’s never too early in the day for a Reformation gag, amiright? Also, there was Diana: Her True Story which, to this very day, causes King Charles to wake up at 1am gnashing his teeth and disturbing the Jack Russells.)
Specifically here we are talking about Omid Scobie and his slightly hysterically titled Endgame: Inside the Royal Family and the Monarchy’s Fight for Survival.
Choose whatever verb you fancy – engulfed, embroiled, ensnared – but this week, the royal family has found itself dragged back into the muck and maul of le grand Sussex soap opera, courtesy of not only Scobie’s book but also the biggest royal-adjacent slip-up since Fergie accidentally Tweeted the Palace’s back door alarm code.
While Kate normally stays as far away from even the remotest whiff of scandal, her most outré act since becoming an HRH being when she briefly experimented with a fringe, this time round the princess has been caught up in the fray, with the Dutch version of the book naming her as one of the so-called “royal racists”.
But before that happened, Endgame had some energetic tarring and feathering of the Princess of Wales to do, painting her as an essentially limp void of a human being whose primary functions are procreative and PR-related.
Having achieved the former, thrice, now the St Andrews graduate is busy having a feeble go at the latter. It’s a project which, to the book’s telling, requires courtiers and aides to indulgently coddle her and essentially wind her up before events, like an enervated doll.
While there has been plenty of criticism of Kate over the years – plenty of it issuing forth from my trusty keyboard – Endgame is in another league altogether. It’s a full-frontal offensive against the princess which paints her as a “Stepford-like royal wife” who is happy to be “voiceless symbol”.
Elsewhere, Kate is described as having “achieved a Queen-like detachment” and is cast as the monarchy’s “shiny thing” who “can be cold if she doesn’t like someone.”
According to Scobie, the princess earnt the late Queen’s ‘admiration’ for being “teachable, pliable” and “coachable,” making her sound like a bit of overeducated clay with no spine and nice teeth.
At one point he calls out the “the misogynistic and snobbish way many of the tabloids wrote about Kate” only to a page later call her a “vessel for a dynastic family”, which is fun for all you hypocrisy fans out there.
All of which would be rotten enough for Team Wales, but then came the capital ‘D’ Drama of the week, a red letter moment for bilingual Dutch and English speakers.
While Scobie has irascibly hit out saying he’s “not Meg’s pal”, still, Endgame looks on Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, with tooth-aching indulgence and
The version of Endgame published in the UK and Australia dances Nureyev-style around naming the so-called “royal racist”. Whoever it is that, as Meghan told Oprah Winfrey, had raised “concerns” bout the Sussexes’ unborn baby’s skin colour.
However, the version of Endgame sold in the Netherlands does, identifying not just one member of the royal family but two, namely King Charles and Kate.
Duh duh DUHHHHH.
While publishers have raced to pull Endgame off shelves in the European country, the firestorm has only continued to grow in London, especially after controversial broadcaster Piers Morgan decided to publicly name His Majesty and the princess.
And it’s for that reason Kate is stuffed right now. Buggered. The princess might as well call in sick for the next week or two and spend her working hours hot glue-gunning miniature elf hats for the Windsor swan population while knocking back rum-laced eggnog.
Short of her single-handedly negotiating a permanent ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war while decked out in co-ordinating designer desert-chic, no one cares a jot about whatever do goodery the princess or the Palace might be getting up to.
This week Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and her husband Prince Daniel arrived in the UK for a three-day visit, but you would have no way of knowing unless you regularly and obsessively plum the depths of royal Twitter. (Sorry, X. Sigh.)
In recent days, William got chummy with one of the Rolling Stones, it was revealed that Kate is set to appear on BBC Two’s Secrets of the Aquarium next month, and new images of actress Meg Bellamy done up as Kate in the forthcoming episodes of The Crown came out.
Even ‘Kate’ in her knockout knicker look has not been enough to wangle a single eyeball away from the unfolding Endgame and royal race furore.
All of Kate’s diligent recent hard work, including hosting the first national symposium for Shaping Us recently, bringing together British and international academics and thinkers, has been lost in this melee.
How this Dutch debacle happened will be the blip that launched a thousand deep dives but right now, the Princess of Wales is caught. Caught in all the melodrama, caught in the headlines and caught back in the undertow of the Sussex-adjacent separatist movement.
If I was Kate, this is right about when I’d be getting out that hot glue gun. Those swans aren’t going to decorate themselves.
Daniela Elser is a writer, editor and a royal commentator with more than 15 years’ experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media titles.