World·Royal Fascinator

Prince William and Kate offer a fleeting glimpse of family life as they mark 10 years of marriage

As much as a short video posted for Prince William and Kate's 10th wedding anniversary offers a rare glimpse of their family enjoying time at play, there is also a sense that it was a carefully crafted impression they chose to share.

Video posted online gives rare — and brief — look at off-duty time with their 3 children

Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, shown in a photo taken at Kensington Palace in London, marked their 10th wedding anniversary on April 29, 2021. (Chris Floyd/Camera Press/Press Association/The Associated Press)

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Glimpses of what family life is like for Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, are fleeting at best.

The couple, who marked their 10th wedding anniversary the other day, are well-known for the priority they place on their three young children and protecting their privacy.

But they opened up — a bit — on April 29, a decade to the day since their marriage at Westminster Abbey, posting a short video full of family fun at the beach, roasting marshmallows and taking a turn on the teeter-totter.

"We are enormously grateful for the 10 years of support we have received in our lives as a family," they wrote on Twitter in setting up the 39-second video, which has been viewed 1.2 million times.

While the video focused on their family — Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis — there is also the sense that William, 38, and Kate, 39, could be increasing the time they spend on royal work. That seems particularly possible given the fact that other senior members of the Royal Family — notably Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, as well as Prince Andrew — have stepped back from official duties.

Royal author and biographer Penny Junor suspects William and Kate will try to balance the two.

"Family is hugely important to them both — they know that security in a child's early years are crucial — but they also recognize that royal work is important, particularly when the family is short of some key players," Junor said via email.

"So [it's] a difficult juggling act, but they seem a very secure couple with a very happy family life and an exceptionally good work ethic."

That work ethic has been questioned at times over the past decade, with media murmurings now and then about just how hard they were really working. But those questions have faded. 

For Kate in particular, there is an increased emphasis on issues she has made a priority, especially early child development. 

There is also a sense that Kate's transition into the Royal Family has been a careful, gradual one, and stands in some contrast to how William's mother, Diana, found the experience of joining the family. She later complained that she received little guidance or praise as she settled into her role.

"Kate has grown in confidence over the last 10 years since she married William," said Junor. "She has really settled into her role and established herself as a role model as a mother and royal wife."

Prince William and Kate visit Manor Farm in Little Stainton, Durham, England, on April 27, 2021. (Owen Humphreys/The Associated Press)

As much as the video posted for their anniversary offers glimpses of their family enjoying time at play, there is also a sense that it was a carefully crafted impression they chose to share.

"In publicizing their happy family life, William and Kate follow a well-trodden royal path," author Matthew Dennison wrote in The Telegraph.

Dennison takes that path back two centuries, to public portrayals of family life for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who would go on to have nine children.

"The vignettes of their life off-duty that the Cambridges do share with the public invariably depict them as a loving couple and devoted parents, casually dressed, without the trappings of royal status," said Dennison.

In that, Dennison sees "a new embodiment of a concept Victoria and Albert embraced with zeal 200 years ago, that led to [political analyst] Walter Bagehot's well-known reflection: 'A family on the throne is an interesting idea. It brings down the pride of sovereignty to the level of petty life.'"

The happy family times weren't the only video offering from William and Kate in recent days.

They also launched a YouTube channel this week, with the first video focusing mainly on multiple glimpses of them on official duties over the years. That 25-second clip has garnered 2.3 million views since going live on Wednesday.

More of Mike

For a while now, there's been a sense the Royal Family is undergoing a streamlining in its upper echelons when it comes to official duties.

Some of it is thought to be part of a broader view of the future — and the idea that Prince Charles is ultimately looking to a smaller core group of royals to carry the House of Windsor forward when his time comes to follow his mother, Queen Elizabeth, on the throne.

Some of it is a function of circumstance — Prince Harry and Meghan have stepped away from official duties, as has Prince Andrew, in the fallout from his disastrous interview with the BBC regarding his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

When it comes to considering which members of the family might step up and do more, the list has become relatively short: along with Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, there is Princess Anne, Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, along with William and Kate.

Nowhere on the list is Mike Tindall. 

And while there is nothing official to suggest the husband of Princess Anne's daughter, Zara, is assuming a specific roster of new duties, it has been interesting to see him pop up more often recently.

Tindall, 42, took part in an online chat regarding Parkinson's disease with the Duchess of Gloucester that was posted the other day. Tindall's father has Parkinson's, and he's been a longtime supporter of efforts to help those with the disease.

In a recent interview with the BBC, where Tindall also spoke about the impact of Parkinson's, he offered some family perspective on the recent death of Zara's grandfather, Prince Philip.

Tindall said Queen Elizabeth mourned her husband with bravery and was "amazing" at his funeral.

A former England rugby player, Tindall is no stranger to media chatter. He's part of a laddish podcast — The Good, the Bad & the Rugby that has also become an unexpected source of some royal news in recent months.

Word broke on the podcast late last year that he and Zara were expecting their third child. A few months later, Tindall shared the happy news that son Lucas had arrived, albeit not quite as they were expecting — with Zara giving birth on their bathroom floor.

Happy birthday — to Louis, Charlotte and Archie 

A photo of Princess Charlotte taken by her mother, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, was released to mark her sixth birthday on May 2. (Kate, Duchess of Cambridge/The Associated Press)

Royal social media channels have offered up a number of photos of late to mark the cluster of birthdays among younger members of the Royal Family in late April and early May.

Public glimpses of the children are relatively rare, so the photos sometimes become news stories in and of themselves.

Prince Louis turned three on April 23, and his elder sister, Charlotte, turned six on May 2. 

In both instances, and following what has become a tradition in their family, the birthdays were marked with photos taken by their mother, Kate. 

Louis was captured on his bike as he headed off for his first day of nursery school, and Charlotte's photo was a close-up.

Their cousin, Archie, turned two on May 6. His parents, Prince Harry and Meghan, posted a sepia-toned photo on their website of Archie shot from behind and holding a bunch of balloons. 

In a message on the website, Harry and Meghan urged people to "join us in advocating for vaccine equity on Archie's birthday."

Royally quotable

"It is clear that reconciliation, equality and mutual understanding cannot be taken for granted, and will require sustained fortitude and commitment." —  Queen Elizabeth, in a message on May 2 marking the centenary of Northern Ireland.

Queen Elizabeth shakes hands with Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister and former IRA commander Martin McGuinness, watched by First Minister Peter Robinson, centre, at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast on June 27, 2012. (Paul Faith/WPA/Getty Images)

Royal reads

  1. Prince Charles says the Royal Family was "deeply moved" by the way the military carried out their duties at the funeral for his father, Prince Philip. [ITV]

  2. The Duke of Edinburgh's death certificate recorded his cause of death as "old age." [The Independent]

  3. Prince Harry called for COVID-19 vaccines to be "distributed to everyone everywhere" at a star-studded charity concert in Los Angeles. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also appeared via video during the event. [BBC]

  4. Meghan is publishing her first children's picture book, The Bench, which is inspired by Harry and Archie. She also won the remainder of her privacy claim against a British newspaper group. [CBC, BBC]

  5. Christopher Geidt served as Queen Elizabeth's private secretary for a decade. Now the former army intelligence officer, who has been described as charming and suave, has a new role: adviser on ethical standards for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. [The Guardian]

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Janet Davison is a CBC senior writer and editor based in Toronto.

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