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ossip and rumour surrounding members of the royal family have always been a part of life. The royals need to be visible and like all families they have their share of problems, which frequently spill over into the media in some form or other. In 1985 the stories surrounding the Prince and Princess of Wales were such that they were persuaded to make a two-part television series with the late veteran ITN broadcaster Alastair Burnet. In the programmes they both chose to put their side of the story and respond to some of the rumours surrounding their marriage.

   It would never happen today, but it was revealing. Diana said she was ‘horrified’ to be described as a ‘determined, domineering woman’. She was so hurt she confessed she found it difficult to go out to her engagements thinking no one would want to see her. She reminded Burnet that when she came on the royal scene she ‘could do no wrong’ but gradually ‘niggly’ things came to the fore and she began to be criticised on a daily basis.

   Prince Charles was more pragmatic. ‘It is this question of building people up on to a pedestal, and the moment that happens along comes a separate brigade that like knocking you off your pedestal. It’s human nature, I suppose.’

   I am certain the Prince of Wales, who celebrated his 70th birthday in November with much fanfare, is helping Meghan adjust to royal life. It was the same for Diana, who in the tabloid newspapers turned from the ‘Perfect Princess’ to the ‘mouse that roared’ and it happened to the Duchess of York, who was dubbed ‘Freebie Fergie’.

   More recently the Countess of Wessex had a hard time over the ‘fake sheikh’ incident and to a lesser extent even the Duchess of Cambridge suffered. But Catherine knew William for almost nine years before their marriage and with the help of her mother Carole got it exactly right.

   These are the penalties of the job and of the way of life; no newcomer coming into the royal family can ever realise how intense the scrutiny will be. By her own admission Diana did not and I suspect Meghan didn’t either.

   The move to Frogmore Cottage will allow the Duke and Duchess of Sussex the opportunity to have some privacy. Harry has never been a fan of city living and his favourite places are the open spaces of Africa and Scotland. Their current residence, Nottingham Cottage, larger than its name suggests, was refurbished and fitted with a modern kitchen before the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge moved in. It will remain the Sussexes’ London base until Frogmore Cottage is ready.

   Renowned artist Nicky Philipps’ new portrait of the Queen (see page 61) was unveiled to mixed reviews. Having accepted the commission, Nicky was being shown around the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh when she noticed a spectacular cloud formation around the nearby Salisbury Crags and used it for her background. She was later accused of copying the idea from a photograph of the Queen by Annie Leibovitz, which Nicky had never seen. She did, however, work from photographs she had taken of the monarch for a previous portrait, as that is what Her Majesty wanted her to do.

   The finished work is life-sized and hangs in the dining room at Holyroodhouse alongside a portrait of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

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