King Constantine II of Greece was laid to rest in Athens on January 16, in the first major royal event of the year. Every European royal family sent their King/Queen or Crown Prince/Princess to attend, with one major exception: the British. So where were King Charles III and Prince William?
This isn’t an uncommon occurrence. In fact, the last big continent event attended by King Charles, although then he was still The Prince of Wales, was the investiture of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands in 2013. Since then, there have been other royal weddings, funerals and birthday celebrations, where the British typically tosend either Prince Edward and his wife Sophie or Princess Anne, The Princess Royal.
While Edward, Sophie and Anne are all fine representatives of the British Royal Family (BRF), they are also glaringly low down on the totem pole compared to who the other families send. When the first line of attendance for any event are usually Kings/Queens and Crown Prince/Princesses, Prince Edward’s place as 13th in line for succession, and the Princess Royal 16th makes the Brits seem rather, dare I say, snobbish?
While the British royals tend to bring a lot more press attention to any event, of which they have no control, they also are too often content to not mingle with any of their counterparts.
Having watched royals closely for the last 10 years, it’s incredible to see the deep bonds of family and friendship that develop and are nurtured throughout the continent. From Crown Princess Victoria being essentially the godmother of Europe, with several heirs to their respective thrones counted among them, to closeness the between the Scandinavian royals, who even vacation together from time to time, these meetings begin building incredible bonds that last lifetimes.
They are also crucial relationships among people who live a unique, public and, sometimes, difficult life.
But what of the Brits?
Well, the relationship is either distant or non-existent.
If I remember correctly, there’s even a picture of Prince Daniel of Sweden walking close by Prince William and Prince Harry at the London 2012 Olympics. There appears to be barely a hint of recognition between them, especially Prince Harry. However, Daniel does share a warm greeting with Sophie, The Countess of Wessex.
There could be a couple of reasons why the British royals seem to keep their distance.
One is simply the press attention, of which they have no control. A funeral like King Constantine of Greece is a great example. While viewed extensively in royal circles, it hardly hit the mainstream media here in the U.S. or the U.K.
Famed photographer Arthur Edwards even noted that he was the only U.K. photographer at the event, which surprised him.
Royal reporter Emily Andrews also commented on their absence, tweeting, “It’s pretty poor form that neither William (godson) nor Charles have gone to Constantine’s funeral. Charles has partic embraced his Greek heritage & relations; they use private planes all the time, it wd be easy to get to Athens & back & they have no public jobs today!!”
The British royal family knows that their attendance will needlessly pull attention away from where it really should be, which in this case is the Greek royal family. However, you could also argue that the event could bring more attention to the other royal families and the great work they do.
Security is another reason. While all royal families generally have some sort of security protocol, it’s likely that it’s much more all consuming and intense for the British, given their high-profile nature. Having been at several royal events myself, security is always tight and carefully controlled.
It’s possible that if Prince William and Catherine The Princess of Wales, decided to attend King Constantine’s funeral, other guests would be forced to relinquish their seats in a crowd control effort of some sort.
For a funeral, it’s understandable that the British wouldn’t want that to happen.
Speaking of security, the other reason for their non-attendance is that given their security needs, making last minute trips abroad is quite expensive and difficult to manage. The British royal family’s calendar is carefully controlled to make sure that enough time is given to do all the necessary screening before setting foot in any city, town or village. The rush nature of a funeral would make that most difficult.
Perhaps the biggest reason right now is that the royals are dealing with the unprecedented attack by Prince Harry, who made a series of stunning allegations against the royal family, specifically his father King Charles and brother Prince William.
Though most of the world is leaning pro-monarchy, the royal family doesn’t want to open itself up to negative press or a hostile crowd. It’s unlikely that would have happened, but the atmosphere is currently tense and unpredictable. Better to be safe than sorry.
However, the final option is that perhaps, simply, the British royals may somewhat be snobs (perish the thought).
Given their global reach compared to the rest of Europe, they perhaps feel just a bit superior to their counterparts. It may not be a conscious part of their thinking, but something that’s developed over time.
Interestingly, the Greeks are an intriguing comparison. Given their obscurity, they happily attend nearly every major European function, though they have no official role or broader function. It feels more like an attempt to stay relevant and have something to do, rather than it being strictly necessary for them to attend. A great example is Princess Ingrid-Alexandra’s 18th birthday, where Crown Prince Pavlos, Crown Princess Marie Chantal and their daughter Princess Maria Olympia and son Prince Constantine Alexios all attended, though there’s scant evidence they are all that close with the Norwegian royal family.
Perhaps one or two family members would have made sense, but four? Only Crown Princess Victoria brought her whole family (husband and two children), but she’s one of Princess Ingrid-Alexandra’s godmother and a deep bond with the princess’ parents, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit.
To bring the point home, no British royal attended the event, though the likely suspects would have been Prince Edward and Sophie.
The British royals don’t really feel a need to attend such an event, because they really don’t have to. No matter what is happening and where they are, there’s an obvious interest.
But it would be incredibly lovely to see Prince William and Princess Catherine pal around with Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, without it being part of simply another royal tour. There’s only a handful of people who know the burden of a crown and the constraints of being an heir to a centuries old throne, and the royal community, to those who are lucky enough to become part of that exceptionally excessive club, it appears warm and welcoming.
It would be great to see the Brits hang out there just a bit more.