Sunday 3 July, Amiens, France. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry are in Thiepval, having joined commemorations for the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. In a majestic f*** up, the Palace didn’t book rooms early enough in the only five star hotel in the area and Air BnB only had studio flats with integrated bathrooms (not a problem for Harry and Kate but William likes a private throne). Ever positive, Kate decided to make the best of it and jumped at Harry’s idea of camping. Although Will’s outdoorsy, Kate has been impressed by Harry’s sturdy erection – so much so, their children have joined them for the weekend so they can all enjoy some fresh heir. Unfortunately, George is proving a bit too fresh …
“Are you alright, babe?” Kate whispers to Will as he studies the campsite map carefully.
“I’m just trying to work out where the water park is,” he says, his brow furrowed in concentration. “I want to teach George how to cope if he ever feels out of his depth in the gene pool. Why don’t they make it clear with a big blue circle or something? He sighs, thinking of the ‘Remain’ sticker he surreptitiously stuck to the floor of his garage at Anmer Hall where only he could see it (Royals are supposed to be neutral, after all), only to have Charles secretly practice his unicycle for hours over it and reduce it to shreds. He is quite cross at how his father’s generation seems to have torn it for the younger population …
Kate gives his shoulder a squeeze, interrupting his flow of thought. They have all been hugely affected by the Somme events of the last few days, as well as Brexit. Although it is grey and wet outside, both are hoping on this, the last day of their visit, they might be able to relax.
“It’s over there,” she says, pointing. “If you like, I can join you with Shouty after I’ve tidied up the breakfast things.”
“Oh, darling,” sighs William, “we could have brought Maria, you know.”
“We can function without her,” says Kate, briskly. “I’ll clean up our own mess.”
“Mmm,” says William, thinking of their nanny’s delicious, buttery French toast. Since he quipped in public last week that his wife’s cooking is behind his slim physique, he’s used Kate’s subsequent ‘sulk time’ to guiltily enjoy huge breakfasts prepared by Maria something-or-other, as Harry likes to call her.
“I want to do Duke of Edinburgh,” announces George as he appears holding his uncle’s hand.
“George!” Kate looks shocked. “He’s your great grandfather!”
Realising his princely error, George follows quickly with one of his best ‘curveball’ comments, designed to throw his parents, “maple syrup isn’t scared of us.”
“Yes, yes, George,” says Will hurriedly. “Never mind that. We’re already in a state of confusion.” He pours Kate some coffee and she accepts, looking proudly at her husband.
“Very witty, darling.”
“I don’t like coffee,” says George, grinding his teeth.
“I know,” says his father, trying to unstick the lid of a thermos flask.
“But I do like compost,” the toddler says, eyeing his father hopefully.
“I’m not rising to it, George,” Will says firmly. “We’ve had quite enough nonsense from you for one day. If Maria were here …”
“Yes?” bristles Kate. “What else can Nanny Mc-Oui do better than me?”
William sighs. At just the right moment, Harry enters the tent, waving a waterproof buggy cover. “Georgie! Fancy a crepe?”
“Great idea! He’s just used the potty,” Kate calls, “but nothing happened.” She ignores the pained look George gives her and carries on. “It would be great if you could take him again, Harry.” Although the tent sleeps five and it is raining, she insists on George’s potty training taking place just as it does at home – outside. Both Will and Kate believe in giving as much exposure to the royal wee as possible.
Harry, still Tigger-like from hugging Coldplay on stage, is undeterred. “A crepe is like a pancake,” he whispers bouncily to George. “Not a crap. And if you don’t actually need a poo yet, don’t worry. A Nutella special will get things moving. Hop in,” he gestures to the bespoke navy Out n About. “And we won’t need this,” he recklessly tosses the potty out of the cunningly hidden side pocket. “Come on Shouty,” he says cheerily, scooping Charlotte up and depositing her like a baby kangaroo in its pouch. He pushes the buggy out into the drizzle.
William grabs his pack-a-mac and hurries out of the tent to intervene. “Hazza, that’s a bit dangerous. It’s pouring down, really muddy … Shouty’s hanging loose with no real direction. And George looks tense.”
The brothers study the toddler, who will be king, with interest. George appears to have found a beret from somewhere and is laughing at Charlotte for being so reckless. “You’re going to fall,” he says with Machiavellian delight.
Charlotte looks extremely uncomfortable. After a few seconds of silent deliberation, she makes a decision and clambers out. The buggy wobbles but stablises, with George safe and warm inside. Charlotte is dripping wet – she starts to cry.
“You wanted to leave!” crows George. “You did it and now you feel silly, don’t you?”
“A bit like being at home, isn’t it?” says William fondly, his eyes misting up. “Except the children know what they’re doing.”
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