There are premieres and there are royal premieres, and Bond is the only movie franchise able to guarantee a blue-blooded red-carpet appearance. Not one but two palace limousines pulled up at the Royal Albert Hall this week to deliver the first and second in line to the throne and their spouses.
It was the Duchess of Cambridge who stole the show with her gold-sequined Jenny Packham gown, which lit up like a firework under the explosion of camera flashes. News editors the world over knew they had their banner image and readers would now be forced to scroll down the page to see the otherwise showstopping pink velvet jacket worn by leading man Daniel Craig.
Royals don’t make a habit of hitting the red carpet, because they don’t see themselves as celebrities. They will, however, use their “convening power” to promote causes they care about.
In this case, Bond is something they want to associate with and promote because of the “Britishness” of the global brand. Prince William is also President of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and one of his chosen duties is to promote the best of British moviemaking.
What you might not know is that Prince Charles is patron of the British intelligence services and William shadowed them for three weeks in 2019. The duke described the experience at the time as “truly humbling.” He said the agencies were “full of people from everyday backgrounds doing the most extraordinary work to keep us safe,” and praised their “unrivaled patriotism and dedication to upholding the values of this country.”
William probably realized the Bond movies aren’t accurate portrayals of life as a spy. But real-life officers have advised on set so there is a tacit approval of the franchise and how it has helped elevate the profile of the service.
The royals will also appreciate that the premiere had the added benefit of fundraising for charities that support current and former members of the three intelligence agencies: the Secret Intelligence Service (more commonly known as MI6), the Security Service (MI5) and the Government Communications Headquarters (or GCHQ).
So yes, the image of a glittering duchess stepping out of a royal limo onto the red carpet at the latest 007 premiere is glamorous, but it’s the royals’ way of shining a light on an otherwise hidden and often underappreciated profession.
ROYAL TEA BREAK
Prince George is going to be upset about his parents’ latest trip.
Look, the fear of missing out (or FOMO, as it’s known) can hit us all, and not even members of the royal family are immune. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made a whistle-stop visit to Northern Ireland on Wednesday, where William revealed one event in particular would make his elder son jealous. While visiting Ulster University’s Magee Campus, the pair got hands-on with some creepy creatures at the campus’ petting zoo. There we learned 8-year-old George is “obsessed” with snakes, according to his dad, who confidently held one of the reptiles. “George is going to be so upset,” he mused, before adding “the children are not going to believe I did this.” For her part, Kate gleefully asked to hold a tarantula, who, it turned out, shares a name with her daughter, Charlotte.
For their first time visiting the Londonderry, also known as Derry, area, the couple spent the day meeting young people and learning how local groups are promoting inclusivity across communities. Their itinerary also saw them meet nursing students and view a specially designed simulated ambulance that helps train student paramedics. Later, they went to the City of Derry Rugby Club to find out about the “Sport Uniting Communities” project, which helps “promote meaningful, purposeful and sustained contact between individuals from different backgrounds – particularly across the religious divide – resulting in a change in perception and relationships,” Kensington Palace said.
IN THE ROYAL DIARY
The Queen, Charles and Camilla to meet pandemic heroes.
The Queen, Prince Charles and Camilla will meet community heroes from across Scotland on Saturday. The reception, for people who are being celebrated for their contributions during the pandemic, will be held after the royals attend the opening ceremony of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. The Queen, who has been enjoying her annual summer stay at her Balmoral estate for the past few weeks, is set to give an address as the sixth session of the parliament gets underway. Before the ceremony, the royals will meet with party and parliamentary leaders, according to Buckingham Palace. As part of the ceremony, the mace and Crown of Scotland will be carried into the Debating Chamber in procession, to a fanfare by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, the palace added.
WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING?
William visits homelessness charity he first visited with his mom.
Each royal has particular charities that are especially meaningful to them. For the Duke of Cambridge, one of those is the London organization The Passage, which supports people living on the street. William has long-standing ties to the charity, becoming royal patron in 2019 and first visiting with his mother, Diana, when he was still a young boy. This week, The Passage celebrated its 40th anniversary and William made sure to mark the moment, attending a special award ceremony honoring volunteers and frontline staff while paying tribute to donors and supporters. After the visit, he posted a series of photos on Instagram, including a black and white shot of his mother at the charity, while explaining his “great affection” for the organization.
The Queen needs a new chef.
Looking for a new gig post-pandemic? There’s an opening in the royal household for an “ambitious” demi chef de partie in the pastry kitchen. According to the job ad on the royal website, the successful applicant will be expected to “deliver food to the highest standards” and “prepare diverse menus for a wide range of events.” The position is based at Buckingham Palace – with perks including 33 days of vacation and the option to live on site – but will involve traveling to other royal residences. While no salary is mentioned in the job listing, it does say payment will be “competitive.” Don’t you wish you’d paid more attention in cooking class?
Harry and Meghan win over crowds in NYC.
All eyes were on the Sussexes as they descended upon the Big Apple last weekend. They may not be working royals anymore, but they still command an impressive reaction from VIPs and fans. We told you last week that the couple were in town for Saturday’s Global Citizen Live concert in Central Park. But they also made time to meet with leaders, public health officials and others as they continue their mission to fight for vaccine equity. The crowd roared as the pair took to the stage on Saturday to reveal what experts had been telling them. Here’s an excerpt of their speech:
Harry: “This week, we sat with independent global health leaders to further understand how we get closer to vaccine equity and ending this health crisis. But we’re battling more than a virus alone. This is a battle of misinformation, bureaucracy, lack of transparency and lack of access, and above all, this is a human rights crisis.”
Meghan: “Every single person on this planet has a fundamental right to get this vaccine. That’s the point. But that’s not happening. And while in this country and many others you can go almost anywhere and get vaccinated, billions of people around the world cannot. This year the world’s expected to produce enough doses to meet the target of vaccinating 70% of people in every single country, but it is wrong that so much of the vaccine supply has only gone to just 10 wealthy nations so far, and not everyone else. It’s just not okay.”
Harry: “We have what we need to vaccinate the world, but the experts told us ‘here’s what’s getting in the way.’ They said many countries are ready to produce vaccines at home, yet they aren’t allowed to. Because ultra-wealthy pharmaceutical companies are not sharing the recipes to make them. These countries have the means, the ability, and the workers to start manufacturing. All they are waiting for is the vaccine intellectual property to be waived and for the vaccine technology to be transferred over. And by the way, many of these vaccines were publicly funded. They are your vaccines, you paid for them.”
Watch their whole address here.
DID YOU KNOW?
Princess Diana’s former London apartment is now an official tourist site.
The London apartment where Diana Spencer lived before she became the Princess of Wales has been awarded an official blue plaque. The plaque was posted on the Coleherne Court building on Old Brompton Street in Kensington on Wednesday. “Diana had, and still has, a very special place in the hearts of Londoners and we are thrilled to see her blue plaque formally placed as a monument to her work for others,” said Andrew Boff, chair of the London Assembly, during the unveiling ceremony. Read the full story here.
And don’t forget CNN’s new six-part documentary series “Diana,” featuring rarely seen footage and new interviews exploring the person behind the princess, premieres on October 10.
Canada has been facing a national reckoning over the treatment of its indigenous community after the grim discoveries of hundreds of graves at its former residential school locations. Acknowledging a tragic chapter in Canadian history, the new holiday, on September 30, honors victims and survivors of the government’s attempt at cultural assimilation.
More than 150,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit children were taken from their families and placed in schools across the country, where they were forbidden to speak their language or practice their culture. The schools began closing in the 1980s, with the last one shutting its doors in 1996 as reports of sexual and physical abuse emerged. In 2015, the system was branded “cultural genocide” by a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.