What a day! To start with, I like William a lot. Anyone who has read this blog, even intermittently, knows that I am a big fan of his. And you all know that I firmly believe the Cambridges’ marriage is rock solid. Nevertheless, that does not make this weekend ok. William has learned a hard lesson today, proving that no matter how savvy, every now and again we all take the occasional tumble and add a notch to the belt of life’s tough lessons that lead us toward that blessed goal of aged wisdom. :)
There were competing stories this afternoon surrounding the facts, with one source claiming that William and his friends lunched with two blondes and another claiming that they lunched with two blonds plus those girls’ boyfriends. I have communicated with royal reporter Emily Andrews, whose paper had a reporter in Verbier investigating, and she has confirmed that the boys were not at the lunch with the royals. The pictures seem to corroborate that. It was the royal party and these two jet-setting blondes. The boyfriends, while in town, were not at lunch.
The framing of the story was bad. The media looked into the background on these women and hit gold when it emerged that one of them is an erstwhile model of some sorts who has a particular proclivity for topless photos. So, the pictures of William bundled up to ski were juxtaposed against racy pictures of one of the models wearing, well, basically nothing. Was it fair to frame the story around this woman’s topless photos? Maybe not, but it is also par for the course. More importantly, the veneer—the framing—isn’t the most important aspect. Looking past the tawdry photos to the simple slope-side lunch and say emphatically, this was a mistake.
As old fashioned as it might sound, the problem is the scandal. People aren’t crazy to wonder why William and his pals would elect for a boys weekend, perfectly fine in itself, but then seek out the company of beautiful young single women. That these two had boyfriends—elsewhere, not present at the lunch—isn’t something that makes it better. Had these girls been chums from the royal circle whom William and his friends happened to bump into in Verbier, no one would have blinked. I had no problem when William flew to Africa to hunt with friends, among whom was Jecca Craig. It isn’t that William, as a married man, cannot socialize with other woman. It is that William, as a married man shouldn’t look like he is flirting with excitement while on an ostensible boys weekend. It doesn’t matter if you and I trust him or if Kate trusts him. The optics are bad, and frankly in terms of human nature, it isn’t particularly prudent on his part.
There is the second concern, that of actual infidelity. Before you you run off, I don’t think that was an issue this weekend, but it could be one day and it gets people wondering now. No one, literally no one, is immune from temptation and infidelity. If emotions and passions were controlled by a rational switch that we could choose to flip on or flip off, there would be far fewer divorces. People are made of flesh, happily, and we are made to be drawn to each other. Because I know someone will take this to an extreme, I am not suggesting we are all combustible tinder-boxes, but I am saying, don’t be stupid. It is this fundamental understanding of human nature that creates the element of scandal for those wise enough to appreciate human frailty. Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from scandal are the two take aways of this unfortunate photo set.
The key today is that William ended up—how, no one knows, maybe one of the other guys wanted to hang out with the girls, or maybe the girls crashed the table and the royal party went with it—but, he ended up in a situation that made reasonable people raise their eyebrows. He should avoid such situations; it isn’t hard to do. Because even though there was no impropriety with William, as his inept, but charming dance moves testified to, he has created tension where none should exist.
Finally, the assumption that Kate takes this all with some blasé toss of her luscious locks is also naïve or ignorant of human nature. Anna Ferris, Chris Pratt’s beautiful wife, once talked about her reaction to the false rumors that her husband was cheating on her. She said she was surprised by how much it stung. Both celebrities and politicians' wives have admitted that even false rumors can cause strain. It is hard enough to live your life in the public eye, but to fight rumors of this nature must be exhausting and not in an area you want exhaustion or tension. Kate knows that all is well in her marriage, but it is still a struggle to fight perception, which often becomes reality in the mind of the public. This is not a news story with which the princess should have to struggle.
Does William have to give up his guy weekends away? No. Does he have to wall himself off from every woman he knows whose name isn’t Kate Middleton? No. All he has to do is stop and think, fair or not, what will this look like on the front pages tomorrow? How will it impact the woman I love? How will it reflect on the institution of which I am heir?
When you have something precious, you guard it. You put a coaster on your antique coffee table. You cover your art from direct sunlight when you leave on vacation. You are careful of your reputation. You guard your spouse’s heart from hurtful comments. That’s what we do with the things and the people we love; we take care of them. I know that William’s first and most important life mission is to take care of Kate and his precious children. I think of the day in 2012 when Kate had been particularly hurt by the release of terribly invasive personal photos from a trip to France. William’s anger toward the press was contrasted by his sweet tenderness to the Duchess throughout the day. I know that a gaffe like this weekend’s was unintentional and will not be repeated.
Ultimately, we all make mistakes. We make mistakes every day. Some are public and some are private, some are large and some are small, but we all spend our lives making progress and suffering setbacks. Today was a setback for William, but "tomorrow is another day," and as it happens, William gets to pick himself up and move forward in the city to which I flee when I have fallen and need to rise again. So, as we put to bed a rough day, I look forward to seeing you all in Paris for our favorite couple's first trip together to the City of Lights and the City of Love where we are sure to see them illuminate their trip with their vitality and with their love.