Kate Middleton and Prince William’s fight for family

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There was a day, circa 1066 – 1953, where all a future King needed to learn was how not to fall off their horse when addressing their troops and to develop a real taste for killing small birds. School and formal education, you see, were for people who would one day have ‘jobs’ or would need to earn money, their forebears having had the misfortune of not having colonised the subcontinent. (A holy cash cow?)

Sadly for Prince George, he was born at a time when the royal family had decided that raising their children ‘normally’ was the go, even though his 13 years of schooling will lead precisely nowhere. This is not a kid who is ever going to need to bother to attend a careers day.

However, when the Easter half-term break ends on April 17 and he is dropped off at Lambrook school, just him, his Spider-Man lunch box and an armed security detail, it will not be business as usual.

Next week will see the prince, sister Princess Charlotte, brother Prince Louis and father Prince William all return to their normal workaday lives for the first time since their mother Kate the Princess of Wales revealed to the world that she has cancer. And that means the Wales family is about to face their most serious stress test yet.

It was only just over two weeks ago that Kate left the world reeling with the news that she has cancer, a development so closely guarded the UK media was only given 90 minutes warning. The timing of the video was no accident, going out two hours after the end of term. This meant that just as the storm was breaking, William and Kate were able to protect their kids and could abscond to their Norfolk home Anmer Hall to do suitably wholesome things and to ride out the initial frenzy.

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However all rural idylls, even royal ones, must come to an end and what Kate and William face now is finding out whether their carefully wrought plans for her treatment and recovery will hold up in the harsh light of actual day.

For the first time since the world learned about the Princess of Wales’ diagnosis, the Prince of Wales will be returning to the royal coalface and their children will be shunted back to Lambrook to continue to learn the imperfect tense in French.

In the wake of Kate’s cancer news, Kensington Palace made clear how the couple want things to go: He will get back out there and get back to work, posing for selfies with people who put their own bins out and doing his bit to bang the climate crisis drum, but to a lesser extent than normally. The princess will, of course, be out of sight with no known return date even vaguely mooted, as she undergoes chemo; and the kids will not be allowed to get out their homework.

But you know what they say about best laid plans …

What remains to be seen is, will Prince William be able to juggle plodding princely duty and earning his husband of the year badge, contorting himself to manage it all like a Cirque du Soleil performer? What will actually happen when the Wales kids are back on the hand-hewn swing set at little lunch? And will not only the British press but the public accede to the Waleses’ request for privacy now that there are probably even bigger dollar figures attached?

Take what William is going to be up against.

You and I might not have a sceptre or even a tiddly loch to our names but at least we are allowed to feel our feelings in private and not to have to be put on display while going through something traumatic and deeply upsetting. (We’ve got the better end of this bargain, I reckon.)

The next time that William turns up in public it will be with the world knowing that his wife is battling cancer and that her disappearance from view is not a temporary blip, an aberration in an otherwise steady drumbeat of glossy coupley official outings. The 41-year-old will have no choice but to have to go out there into the wide world and to have the full force and intensity of public feeling foisted upon him.

William will also have to now hold down the professional fort and fly the Wales flag solo.

On a personal level, the prince will have to find some sort of vague balance between the millstone of his royal responsibilities and supporting his wife and being present and emotionally available for his kids and on hand to do bathtime.

That’s a hell of a lot for one man to have on his plate, even if he is a man who has never actually carried his own plate in his life.

Next, there is the question of how the Wales kidlets will fare at this extraordinary time.

George might have a retinue of bodyguards who probably know 17 ways to kill someone using only their bare hands but even they can’t the boy from gossip schoolyard tattle and kids talking.

As a palace source told the Telegraph: “George is ten now and can’t be shielded from any of this now. Once it’s at the school gate and in the school playground, he won’t be able to avoid it.”

It would seem that by and large the Lambrook community has, and will continue to, rally around the family, however there are limits and kids, even ones who start their day with boiled quails eggs and celery salt, are only kids. How will George, Charlotte and Louis cope having to be back at school where all of their classmates and the entire world knows their mum is unwell?

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Then there is the wildcard element here – the public. It was only three short weeks ago that William and Kate were surreptitiously filmed by a member leaving the Windsor Farm Shop, footage that saw social media lose what remaining marbles it had left. If nothing else, this incident demonstrated just how incredibly valuable such footage could be.

Last month the Times’ associate editor Kate Mansey reported that , “as part of her recovery the princess will continue to go about her daily life. The media has been asked not to photograph her as she does so, whether that be dropping the children off at school or attending appointments.

“The Palace has asked media outlets not to participate in the market for information, images or video.”

Politely asking is all well and good and while the UK press might obligingly toe the line, the US and European markets could have no such restraint. Fleet Street might not touch a clip of Kate getting an almond latte or picking up a ploughman’s loaf with a barge pole but the international markets and websites like TMZ are another matter entirely.

Or to put it another way, the princess has become even more of a target given there is now the equivalent of a bounty on her head. Will the public’s decency win out over greed or will there always be someone with an eye for the main chance with no compunction about surreptitiously filming her in the Tesco cereal aisle?

The good news is that William, Kate and their three have another blessed week of peace and quiet and more nature than you could shake an antique mahogany stick at before this all descends on them and George realises he’s lost his Latin primer.

Daniela Elser is a writer, editor and a royal commentator with more than 15 years experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media titles.

Read related topics:Kate MiddletonPrince William