Tuesday morning, 07.00hrs, Anmer Hall. William, Duke of Cambridge is gently sulking in his cashmere dressing gown as he sips the first coffee of the day and gets ready for work. His wife, Kate, is in her parlour doing her makeup and eating yoghurt and honey because, after all the celebrations of the last week or so and doing a shift opening the Queen’s 90th birthday post bags, she has had enough of tasteless birthday carbs. George and Charlotte are asleep. (No, wait. This might be fiction but asking you to believe that is a step too far. They’re with nanny Maria something-or-other in the playroom, getting ready for a day out with Uncle Harry).
“Darling, what’s wrong?” Kate puts her eyeliner down carefully.
“Clearly, it isn’t.” Kate is used to this. Tuesday is William’s ‘difficult’ day at the helicopter base. They have a technical inspection, followed by a long practice flight and she steels herself every week for him hovering over her, worrying about his oversized joystick.
“Gran’s ticking off on the balcony. Those horrible press reports about you being in love with Harry …”
“They didn’t say that,” Kate says. “They said we like having a laugh. We do,” she adds, looking at him kindly. “You know you’re not a huge fan of Made in Chelsea, whereas Harry just … well, he’s always up for a ‘how many times does Louise cry’ game, whereas you’re not.”
“I don’t see why watching television should involve play,” William mutters. “I’ve had a hard enough time convincing you all Game of Thrones is actually rather serious.”
“Only to you,” Kate says, standing up and slipping on her Tuesday pants. “The thing is, I hate to say this, babe, but you’re becoming a bit …” (she whispers), “boring.”
William puts his coffee down carefully before demonstrating his frustration by kicking a copy of Kate’s Runner’s World across the bedroom floor. It slides under Charlotte’s second-best Jumperoo they still haven’t moved. Kate sighs.
“Why don’t you go and play with the children for a little bit before you go to work. Harry’s taking them …” she pauses.
“He’s supposed to be taking them to, um, a preview of the new children’s Peppa Pig mud enclosure at Glastonbury before it opens this weekend.”
“Oh, great,” William growls. “How am I supposed to compete with that?”
He paces the floor, getting more and more agitated. “I’m trying really hard to be current and cool. I’m on the cover of bloody Attitude magazine; I wore that headband for Heads Together, even though it brought attention to my crown …”
“… or lack of,” says Kate distractedly, trying to decide which pair of jeans to wear.
“I’m supposed to be flying to France today and I just haven’t got time for this,” he says impatiently. “I’m going to see the children.”
William marches along the corridor, picking up small toys as he goes. Bending to retrieve a Lego parachutist gives him an idea and, as he enters the bright, airy playroom, the son emerges from behind the curtains.
“Do you want to come flying with me?” William asks, mustering all the energy and enthusiasm a man trying to mix a difficult, physical job with taking a boisterous toddler to work with him can.
“Ag-ag!!” affirms George.
“George …” warns William, thinking back to last weekend when the Queen chastised him in front of the world for bending down on the balcony. Whilst he still feels slightly royally cheesed off about it, it is no excuse for George using his Great Grandmother’s pet name backwards, which is he prone to do when he wants a reaction.
“It’s his way of saying ‘yes’; he’s not saying ‘Nag-Nag’,” says Maria cheerily, taking off her disposable gloves after changing Shouty Charlotte’s nappy.
“Oh. Righto,” says William, relieved. “So, Georgie. This might be the last chance we have to see France when we’re part of the EU. How about it? A trip in the helicopter with your old Dad?”
“Eee-Uwww!” shrieks the nearly three-year old, running towards his father.
“Well, yes …” says William, catching him expertly. “I’m glad you feel so passionately. We have to remain neutral, of course, but personally, I do think …”
“Shouty’s nappy! It stinks!!” George plucks the soiled disposable out of the bin and waves it in front of William’s nose.
“NO, Georgie,” William commands, plucking it from George’s fingers and dropping it into the nappy bin. “Come on, no time for larking about. If you’re going to cross the Channel with me, we have to get a wiggle on.”
George stands in the middle of the Peter Rabbit rug, treading old Play-Doh lumps in a bit more firmly as he thinks. “I know, Daddy,” he says after a moment or two. He disappears into the walk-in dressing up room and returns carrying two Sarah and Duck beanie hats. “These will do. They look sort of French, don’t they?”
“Oh, you rascal!” says William affectionately. But, seeing as the son has got his hat on, William dons a beanie and, looking at himself in the mirror, has to admit this is one instance when playing a TV-inspired game might be rather fun.