He might not see as much of his grandson George as he might like but the Prince of Wales was all smiles when he came face-to-face with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at Westminster Abbey. Charles and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall were attending the Commonwealth Day observance service and stood with William and Kate as they waited for the Queen to arrive.
Any troubles appeared well hidden with the Duchess who has less than six weeks to go before giving birth smiling broadly as she arrived on the arm of Prince William himself recently returned from a successful tour of China and Japan. An annual tradition the event is intended to celebrate the richness and diversity of the Commonwealth which along with the UK also includes Canada Australia and New Zealand as well as India, Uganda and Kenya among many others. Despite being more than eight months pregnant Kate 33 was elegant in a pale pink non maternity coat with pearl buttons by Alexander McQueen, which she last wore for 2013’s trooping the colour ceremony. In a shell pink hat by Milliner Jane Taylor.
Camilla meanwhile opted for a chic navy blue ensemble by favorite designer Bruce Oldfield in a matching Philip Treacy hat while the Queen chose a pretty ivory wool tweed coat by couturier Karl Ludwig in a hat by Angela Kelly the apparent closeness of the two couples is at odds with reports last week that Charles has been left unhappy by what he describes as the march of the Middletons and his concern over what he sees as his peripheral role in his grandsons life.
For the millions who, 20 years on, still mourn the Princess of Wales, tonight’s ITV documentary will make for bittersweet viewing. At a preview screening I attended at Kensington Palace, Prince William introduced the film.
‘Twenty years on, Harry and I felt it was an appropriate time to open up about our mother,’ he explained. ‘We feel hopefully this film will provide the other side – from close family friends, from those who knew her best and from those who want to protect her memory and want to remind people of the person she was.’
He spoke about wanting people to see ‘the warmth, the humour and what she was like as a mother’, and of the brothers’ desire to see her legacy ‘live on in our work’.
‘You have to remember,’ he concluded, ‘that there are people who don’t even know about her; there are 25-year-olds who probably have just heard the odd snippet about her, so this is introducing her to a new audience as well.’
Even without the benefit of William’s insight, it will be clear to viewers from the very first moments that this film is that most heartbreaking of things: a love letter from two little boys to the mother they lost.
There is a vulnerability to the princes’ recollections of Diana, an aching sadness that – for all the happiness they might find in their lives – will never truly leave them.
But there is also, simmering just beneath the surface, beneath Harry’s self-deprecating squaddie humour and William’s more thoughtful demeanour, a white-hot rage, an intense feeling of injustice coupled with a very Diana-esque desire for retribution, to lash out in defence of their beloved mother’s memory.
William and Harry may be grown men, but the princes we see here are just two small boys, mummy’s brave little soldiers, intent on standing up for her, on defending her memory against a husband who never wanted her, a press that hounded her, the critics who scorned her.
There is something so inherently human, so moving, about their need to protect the mother who, in their short time together, gave them so much love.
And yet at the same time their actions will inevitably raise questions about the motivations behind such an overtly one-sided narrative of Diana’s life – and its potential fallout.
Because while this film is a loving tribute to an adored mother, some will inevitably see it as something else: an implicit rejection of their father, Charles, and of the royal identity he has sought to establish with Camilla, Diana’s nemesis.