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British Royal Family

Behind Palace Gates with Juliet Rieden: Prince Harry & Prince William are pencilled in to attend this year's unveiling of Princess Diana's statue together

Our royal insider takes us through the latest happenings at the Palace.

By Juliet Rieden
It was the most cataclysmic royal event of 2020 which some predicted would damage the monarchy irreparably, but a year on the sky hasn't fallen in, though stars have scattered and wounds appear still raw.
In a revealing TV interview British journalist Tom Bradby, whose documentary with Harry and Meghan, filmed on their 2019 tour of South Africa, first uncovered the couple's discontent inside the House of Windsor, said Harry is "heartbroken by the situation with his family" and that he and Meghan "wrestle with their position in life".
But Brady also underlined that the couple are "content" in the US and "quite excited" by their new work.
So what is really going on? When it was announced that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would be stepping back from their royal roles for a financially independent family life in the US, there was a caveat that the terms of the agreement would be reviewed after 12 months, the palace door left ajar for a U-turn.
No doubt conversations have continued to swirl in royal courts, but I think it's safe to conclude that the couple will not be returning to work for the Firm any time soon.
COVID has certainly played its part keeping the royal family in separate countries, but it hasn't stopped the Sussexes establishing a new business model which seems to put a lid on a return to the UK.
The couple's website presents a three-pronged strategy with the Archewell Foundation charity promising to "uplift and unite communities … one act of compassion at a time" by partnering with "organisations fuelling systemic cultural change".
This work will be partly funded by a lucrative podcast deal with Spotify under the 'Archewell Audio' banner, and another with TV streaming behemoth Netflix to develop 'Archewell Productions' programming which will "inform, elevate and inspire".
The first in the podcast series was released as a Holiday Special and featured Elton John, James Corden and Deepak Chopra among invited guests who shared tough moments in their lives.
The couple presented the show, interjecting with comments from time to time and announcing "love always wins" as baby Archie cooed "Happy New Year" to a giggling Harry. It garnered mixed reviews but cemented the consistency of the couple's brand to make the world a better place.
Harry and Meghan launched their special podcast, Archewell Audio in December last year. (Getty)
As for relations with the royal family back home, Christmas gifts were exchanged and reports have said the couple is in contact on the phone and via video calls.
But while British newspapers suggested that the Sussex family would be heading back to the UK to celebrate Granny's official birthday by attending the Trooping the Colour celebrations in June, there has been no confirmation from the Palace, and sources close to the couple tell me it's a bit presumptuous at the moment to be talking about travel plans.
One date still in the diary is the unveiling of a statue in Kensington Palace gardens to mark what would have been Princess Diana's 60th birthday. This is pencilled in to be a joint occasion for brothers William and Harry on July 1… fingers crossed.
Here's hoping the brothers can reunite this year. (Getty)
With Brits stuck in punishing lockdowns to try to contain a terrifyingly virulent strain of the virus, Buckingham Palace announced that The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh had received COVID-19 jabs, administered by a Royal Household Doctor at Windsor Castle.
The decision to make the vaccinations public was deftly timed and a significant endorsement of the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.
During an online discussion with National Health Service staff and volunteers, Prince William declared he was "very proud" of his grandparents, adding it was "really important" that "everyone" gets a jab "when they are told to".
In line with government guidelines, William and Kate have continued to home-school their children, with schools in the UK closed at the time
of writing. The Duchess of Cambridge also quietly celebrated her 39th birthday at home.
Duchess Catherine quietly celebrated her 39th birthday at home. (Getty)
Meanwhile, the Prince of Wales has been busy preparing his cleverly titled "Terra Carta" – a 10-point "Earth Charter" that puts sustainability at the heart of the private sector.
Prince Charles's urgent appeal comes as the royal marks 50 years campaigning for the environment. In a powerful speech he said the charter "offers the basis of a recovery plan that puts nature, people and planet at the heart of global value creation.
Sustainability is a choice… together, we can build the sustainable and prosperous future our children and grandchildren deserve."
Also busy, The Duchess of Cornwall joined the ranks of Oprah and Reese Witherspoon with her own Reading Room book club with four initial titles including Dame Hilary Mantel's final book in her royal Wolf Hall trilogy, The Mirror & The Light.
The Duchess of Cornwall has started her own Reading Room book club. (Getty)
"To me, reading is a great adventure, " said Camilla.
"I've loved it since I was very small and I'd love everybody else to enjoy it as much as I do. You can escape and you can travel and
you can laugh and you can cry. There's every kind of emotion that humans experience in a book."
And while we're talking about books, I have to mention Sarah Ferguson's new venture into royal romance. When I last spoke to the Duchess of York she was having a wonderful time researching her family's ancestry in the royal archives and hinted at some historical fiction she was writing.
Well the result is a racy saga set in Queen Victoria's court and featuring Sarah's great-great-aunty, Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott.
The novel conjures up a fictional friendship between Queen Victoria's daughter Princess Louise and Margaret, who wants to break the mould and follow her heart. Needless to say, she falls for a handsome man on the way.
The 61-year-old Duchess announced her new deal dressed in Victorian garb in a slightly wacky and rather fun video. But the plan is far from crazy.
Sarah Ferguson has proved a very successful children's author, selling 1.5 million copies of her books, and through COVID her Storytime with Fergie and Friends YouTube episodes, on which she reads children's books accompanied by illustrations, have also proved a hit.
She follows in the footsteps of Princess Diana's step grandma Barbara Cartland, who was the queen of romance fiction, and if Fergie can prove as successful as Cartland she will be very happy.
Read more in the February issue of Australian Women's Weekly, on sale now.

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