What a busy—and high profile—few weeks it has been for the British royal family.
Ever since William and Kate departed on their royal tour of India there has scarcely been a day on which the royals have been out of the news.
Friday last week found Kate in Portsmouth attending an event for the sailing charity Land Rover BAR which, helmed by British sailor Sir Ben Ainslie, aims to develop and lead a British entry capable of winning the America’s Cup—something Britain has so far never managed to achieve.
Wearing a suitably nautical Alexander McQueen outfit, Duchess Kate toured the new facility with Sir Ben.
On Monday the royals were back on duty—Kate, William, and Harry all accompanied their grandmother to the Chelsea Flower Show.
Will and Kate feigned suitable interest at a pink and green chrysanthemum that has been named in honor of their daughter Princess Charlotte while the Queen joked, after being handed two bunches of lily of the valley, which is famously poisonous, that presumably somebody “wanted her dead.”
You might be forgiven for thinking the royals are trying to make a point of how busy they are.
And you’d be right.
It seems only a few short months ago that the papers were full of stories decrying the laziness of the young royals. Will, in particular, came in for much abuse after it was revealed that he works just 20 hours per week in his job as a helicopter rescue pilot.
But this dizzying blur of activity is occurring not as a response to, or to see off, that spate of unwelcome stories.
Rather, it is part of a long held royal tradition that royal activity steadily ramps up as one approaches the first week of June, when the royal accounts are traditionally published and the Republicans get their big moment to attack the Royals as the cost of maintaining the institution of Monarchy is revealed.
The Royals counter-attack by wheeling out the big guns in the second weekend of June for the Trooping of the Color, one of the most spectacular annual spectacles of pomp and pageantry, which sees the queen process down the Mall to celebrate her “official” birthday. This year the event will take place on Saturday, June 11.
The summer’s activities come to a dramatic end in the last week of July, when, with the inevitable brouhaha occasioned by the publication of the accounts long forgotten, the queen decamps to her Scottish castle, Balmoral, for a two-month holiday.
The tradition of kings and queens being more visible in the summer can be traced back to medieval times when weather conditions often made it difficult to travel long distances by horse and coach in the winter.
(Not all monarchs were easily deterred from the road. Back in 1215, King John, in one grueling six-month period leading up to the signing of the Magna Carta, visited 800 places on an exhausting 1,800-mile trip to shore up support for his rule.)
Summer was also a good time for medieval kings to be out of the seething cities as it was during the warmer months that plague was more of a threat. Our modern royals have no such excuses.