Even though they were several thousand miles away, and even though it was supposed to be all about the (surviving) members of the royal family showing their united force, no one was able to forget about Prince Harry, Meghan Markle or their controversially named baby, Lilibet, at the G7 summit in England on Friday.
Kate Middleton was required to use all of her diplomatic skills when a cheeky American journalist, apparently unaware of the quaint British custom of not shouting awkward questions at the royals, lobbed a seriously off-message question at Kate while she and Jill Biden were undertaking a school visit to an early years class at the Connor Downs Academy.
“Do you have any wishes for your niece Lilibet?” the reporter, who was meant to be quietly observing a discussion with British and American education experts, called out impertinently.
Taken aback, Kate smiled and said: “I wish her all the very best, I can’t wait to meet her. We haven’t met yet. I hope that we will soon.”
The reporter, MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell, was not satisfied: “Have you FaceTimed her?”
“No I haven’t,” Kate replied smiling broadly.
At this point the rather one-sided conversation (which is all captured on camera and has been whizzing around social media platforms ever since) was threatening to get so interesting that a press aide intervened and kicked the journalists out of the room. Rumors that the impudent American is now languishing in Anne Boleyn’s quarters at the Tower of London remain unconfirmed.
It was an inauspicious start to a day which was designed to be a dazzling statement of royal soft power, and will later today see U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prince Charles chair a meeting with 10 international CEOs to discuss his sustainable markets initiative.
Charles was expected to reiterate environmental themes in a speech later on Friday, with advance previews of his remarks suggesting he will say, “The fight against this terrible pandemic provides a crystal-clear example of the scale, and sheer speed, at which the global community can tackle crises when we combine political will with business ingenuity and public mobilization…We are doing it for the pandemic. We must also do it for the planet.”
After the roundtable, all the attending country leaders and their partners will attend a reception with the queen, Prince Charles and Camilla, and William and Kate. After the reception there will be a lavish dinner but the queen will not attend. She is due to meet Joe Biden and his wife at Windsor Castle on Sunday.
Friday’s events come a day after what would have been the 100th birthday of her late husband Prince Philip, and as the royal family reels from a fresh outbreak of the civil war between them and the Sussexes over the choice of the queen’s nickname Lilibet as a first name for their child.
Meghan and Harry have insisted the queen gave them her blessing to use the name, but palace aides have denied this and said the queen knew nothing about it. Meghan and Harry have threatened legal action against some outlets for reporting the story.
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