Thursday morning, 08.30, Kensington Apartment 1A. Catherine (Kate), Duchess of Cambridge, is getting out of the shower. She hopes her slimline gin & lime body gel scent will linger through the evening’s SportsAid dinner she is hosting, as it is her turn to do bedtime so she won’t have time to wash later. She is keeping an eye on Charlotte on the built-in CCTV monitor in the corner of the bathroom. ‘Shouty’, as her parents call her, is in the master bedroom, clambering over the 9-tog duvet Camilla has lent them for the summer and chewing her brand new pearl-encrusted Jellycat.
Kate cinches the angora dressing gown belt round her waist and shoves her hair into a leopard print scrunchie as she enters the bedroom.
“What on earth can I give them?” she says to William, who is doing a few stretches in front of the mirror. “They’re all on special training diets before the Brazil Olympics. Honestly, it’s like Pip’s new book party all over again. But I daren’t ask her for advice because she’ll just suggest funeral breakfast fare.”
Kate’s sister’s recent book launch for Mourning – a companion to Celebrate – was quite depressing as it seemed every dietary requirement under the sun had to be catered for. Carole’s Party Pieces plates had groaned under the weight of Kate’s sibling’s specialist supper.
“Why don’t you ask Zara?” Will says kindly.
“Could she help?”
“Well, she and auntie Anne appeared on A Question of Sport in the early noughties. They ought to know something.”
“Hmm. Yes. And now she has an ‘early naughty’ of her own,” muses Kate, throwing Will a cheeky glance as she refers to his niece, Mia. “She’s quite hard to feed, too. I think you might have something there, Will.”
Her husband looks pleased. “Great. I’m off to practice my Bhutanese for a bit but I’ll pop back.” He gives Kate a kiss on the nose and strides out.
Kate wanders into George’s bedroom, where nanny Maria something-or-other is discussing palace size with the third-in-line to the throne.
“Why is this one so tiny?” asks George, looking sceptically at the Hamley’s replica of a three storey town house.
“It’s not that small, really. And When you grow up, yours will be bigger,” sighs Maria.
“Like Mummy and Daddy’s flat here,” George says, somewhat disparagingly, “or like Nag-Nag?”
“George!” Kate interrupts, shaking her head with disappointment. “NOT Nag-Nag. I’ve told you before. Maria,” she turns to the nanny, who is folding George’s Judo suit. “I need to speak to Zara about tomorrow’s dinner menu. Is there any chance you could look after the three cousins while we have a natter?”
Maria, who is paid by the hour and not per child, sighs. She’ll have to take them to soft play or something, she decides. “Yes, that’s fine,” she sighs. “Harry’s just had a bouncy castle set up next door. He says it helps him to de-stress and visualise. I’ll take them all there.”
“Does it look like Buckingham Palace?” George says hopefully.
“No. It looks like Bodo’s Schloss,” says Maria, tiredly, referring to the nightclub at the bottom of Harry’s garden. “Harry said the planners wouldn’t have it any other way.”
10.30am. Zara arrives, looking frazzled. She hands her daughter over to Maria gratefully, and Kate leads her through the marbled hallway to the kitchen, kicking Charlotte’s teething rings under a corgi statue as she goes. Charles insisted Kate and Wills display the statues as a ‘thank you’ to the Queen for providing them with their London home and there is a small stone dog in every room. Maria and Lupo have almost come to terms with them, though they do feel rather hounded.
“Mia’s Shetland pony was supposed to be hypo-allergenic but she’s come out in a terrible rash,” sighs Zara.
“Are you sure it isn’t chicken pox?” asks Kate worriedly, “I’ve heard there’s a lot about. Poor Mia,” she says as William enters.
“What’s the matter, darling?”
“She said, ‘poor Mia’, not ‘poor me’,” says Zara with feeling.
“Zara, we need your help,” Kate pleads. “What do athletes on special diets eat?”
Zara looks pleased. “Are you asking because I’m so fit?”
“Well, it’s really because you appeared on A Question of Sport …”
“Yes,” says Kate, hastily cutting across William. “And because your family looks so healthy. And we know Mia can be a little tricky.”
She thinks back to January, when Mia turned two. Despite the Tindalls’ best efforts, Mia ate nothing but pink iced mice, then crawled across the floor as her sugar high peaked, mewing, “Mia cat. Mia cat.” It was rather disconcerting and Mike was very close to ringing an insurance comparison website to order a stuffed Russian rodent or London Zoo to order a live one in the hopes of stopping Mia’s squeaking.
“Well, in my experience, what works for children will work for athletes,” says Zara confidently. Kate hands her a biro and the back of a Petits Filous family pack and she starts to scribble. A little while passes, during which Will checks his golf equipment is in place as he has a feeling one or other of the SportsAid representatives will want to inspect his balls. Kate paces up and down, awaiting Zara’s menu with considerable excitement. At last, it is done.
“Here,” says Zara with pride. “See what you think.”
Kate and Will descend on the table and devour the words in front of them.
Kate’s SportsAid Dinner Menu
Dairy-free Dairylea slices with pineapple chunks on mini javelin sticks
Rice cakes with small boxes of raisins
“That … that’s it?” asks Kate, worriedly.
“That’s probably enough food for them all, to be honest,” says Zara briskly. “Almost every food group is covered there. I think you’ll find protein, vitamin C and carbs. Done.”
Kate and Will look at each other doubtfully.
“What if they don’t like something?”
“Easy,” says Zara, reaching into her bag. “Give them what any good mother and athlete has on hand at all times. A banana.”