Instead of being the most glamorous month of the royal year, June is distinctly lacking in pomp and circumstance in 2021 because lockdown restrictions are still in place. The Garter ceremony has again been cancelled, Trooping the Colour is scaled down to a much smaller event at Windsor Castle and because Royal Ascot falls the week before lockdown is scheduled to end that too will be quite different.
There will still be the usual top-class racing, but the public attendance will be considerably reduced, while the colourful royal procession along the course will be dependent on circumstances as they unfold. The traditional pre-racing lunches the Queen holds at Windsor Castle on all five days racing will certainly not take place because of government guidelines, so I am doubtful that the horses and carriages which take Her Majesty’s honoured guests to the racecourse will be used.
The Duke of Cambridge is the lucky one this year: his 39th birthday is on 21 June, the day that all restrictions are due to be lifted in England and things return to relative normality. No doubt the Duchess of Cambridge and some of William’s friends will give him a party he will not forget in a hurry.
When Princess Charlotte had her sixth birthday, during the first May bank holiday weekend, the family were in Norfolk and could only give her a small party, as her father later revealed.
‘Last year it was her birthday in lockdown but this year we were able to have one other family over. They grow up very fast. It was great fun.’
The new portrait of Charlotte in a pretty floral dress with her hair worn long and loose was taken by her mother. Catherine’s expertise with a camera means she can get brilliantly candid shots of her children. This is because they are not being photographed by a stranger and either showing off or being shy, as children are apt to do.
The official images usually appear on the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Twitter and Instagram platforms, but on Charlotte’s birthday last month William was boycotting social media for the weekend. As President of the Football Association, he joined the entire football community as part of a social media blackout in a stand against racism and abuse online.
While Prince Harry was greeted like a rock star during a concert in Los Angeles to raise money for global vaccines, back in the UK his father was thanking the Welsh Guards at their barracks in Windsor for the part they played in Prince Philip’s funeral.
Meanwhile, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge launched their own YouTube channel in a bid to appeal to younger fans by providing glimpses of what royal duties entail. The brief video, introduced by the couple from Sandringham, shows flashes of their working and private lives accompanied by hip-hop music. Although Prince William has spoken out about the perils of social media, he realises it is one of the best ways to reach the wider audience that the monarchy will need to survive in the 21st century.