The King will be 75 on 14 November. We don’t know if he enjoys birthdays or not, but if he doesn’t he is far too polite to say so and will derive pleasure from whatever celebrations are thrust upon him. In October the Duke of Kent reached the grand age of 88 and is still working. At his age it keeps him focused. His sister Princess Alexandra will be 87 on Christmas Day and their younger brother Prince Michael of Kent is 81. The older members of the royal family – all still working in one way or another – have an inherited sense of duty. Duty to the family, duty to their country and duty to themselves.
November is always a busy royal month and as well as their usual engagements this year the King and Queen will undertake a state visit to Kenya, which is where in 1952 Princess Elizabeth learnt of her accession to the throne. Later in the month there will be a state visit by the President of the Republic of Korea, His Excellency Yoon Suk Yeol, and Mrs Kim Keon. They will stay at Buckingham Palace.
The Christmas preparations start in November as cards have to be organised in batches because there are too many to do at once. It is an honour to be on a royal Christmas card list and should anyone be forgotten they could view it as a social disaster. There are also hundreds of gifts for friends, children and staff to be purchased. This is why when the immediate family gather at Sandringham for the festive season they insist on giving each other the humblest of presents. Something homemade is much appreciated and the King is well known for his love of unusual honey, while the Queen enjoys anything she cannot go and buy herself. As she no longer has the opportunity to pop into the local branch of Boots or go shopping, these small items provide an extra-special enjoyment.
The Princess Royal has her own agenda and packs as many engagements into a day as possible (see pages 42-46), while the younger working members of the family have been travelling overseas as well as around the United Kingdom. In order to achieve as much as they can with their diverse charities the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh frequently travel separately in different areas of the world.
As their workload increases, the Prince and Princess of Wales try to ensure that one of them is at home if the other is away. When Prince William flies to Singapore for the Earthshot Prize awards ceremony on 7 November the princess is staying behind so that she can be with the children and encourage Prince George with his school examinations.
As a champion of children’s good mental health, Catherine knows exactly what support her son needs and is happy to provide it, even though it means she can’t accompany her husband to Southeast Asia.