A version of this story appeared in the October 8 edition of CNN’s Royal News, a weekly dispatch bringing you the inside track on the royal family, what they are up to in public and what’s happening behind palace walls. Sign up here.
When Meghan, Duchess of Sussex opened up about her miscarriage last year, she was widely praised for the bravery she showed. Now, Sophie, the Countess of Wessex and the Queen’s daughter-in-law, is speaking about another deeply personal issue riddled with stigma.
Fifty-six-year-old Sophie first drew attention to the subject of menopause back in May, when she described the transition as feeling like someone had taken her brain out. “When we’re told that we’re going to begin our periods, are we actually told that we’re going to end them as well?” she said during a video call for the charity Wellbeing of Women.
It was the first time a member of the royal family had openly shared her experience of periods and menopause. You don’t expect royals to speak personally about these subjects, especially in such frank detail, given how private the family is. So when they do, it’s all the more powerful.
And this week, Sophie issued a call to action. She wants businesses to do more to support women going through the menopause, which often happens at a point in their lives when their careers should be peaking.
Wellbeing of Women says around 900,000 women have quit their jobs in the UK due to the menopause, something Sophie described as “tragic.”
She backed a campaign pressing employers to sign the Menopause Workplace Pledge, which aims to “make sure everyone going through the menopause is supported.”
The countess said: “We are fabulous in our 40s, we are even more fabulous in our 50s, 60s and 70s and we need to celebrate that and keep those opportunities going for women.”
“We cannot let anybody leave that workforce unfulfilled, and also feeling that they have got to slope off into the shadows. It’s not right and we’ve got to be able to change that.”
Most women experience menopause symptoms. Some can be severe and affect everyday life, including hot flushes, mood swings, anxiety, vaginal dryness, difficulty sleeping, and difficulty remembering things and concentrating, according to Wellbeing of Women.
Those who are suffering from it may not realize what is happening to them, and even if they do they will often be too embarrassed to admit it. Sophie hopes that by opening up herself, others will be encouraged to do so but also that they will get a sympathetic response from bosses so it doesn’t have to be career-ending.
Since Prince Harry, Meghan and Prince Andrew stepped back from their senior royal positions, Sophie and husband Edward have stepped up and been given more high-profile roles. Both are using it to highlight causes and interests that matter to them and we’re learning more about them all the time.
WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING?
Queen sends Commonwealth Games baton on epic global adventure.
The monarch was all smiles for her first public engagement since returning to London from her summer vacation. Joined by her youngest son, the Earl of Wessex, for the first major event to be held at Buckingham Palace since the pandemic, Queen Elizabeth donned a fabulously bold orange coat and matching hat to present the baton to the first batonbearer, British Paralympic athlete Kadeena Cox on Thursday. The relay – which is traditionally held in the lead up to the Commonwealth Games – is set to last a whopping 294 days, traveling through 72 Commonwealth nations and territories. It will cover a spectacular 90,000 miles before ending its journey back in the UK at the opening ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games next July. Not only will it travel far and wide, but the baton itself is no joke. Constructed from steel, aluminum and copper, it also holds a strand of platinum (a nod to the jubilee next year) and features a 360-degree camera, heart rate monitor, atmospheric sensors and LED lighting. And locked within the baton is a message from the Queen to the Commonwealth, which will be read at the opening festivities. The baton’s first stop after leaving the UK will be Cyprus, then Malta.
Prince Andrew’s legal team to get confidential document they think will end Giuffre civil suit.
n the latest move in the ongoing legal tussle, a US judge has agreed to give the Duke of York’s lawyers access to a 2009 sealed agreement between Virginia Giuffre and Jeffrey Epstein. At the first pre-trial hearing in September, Andrew’s attorney argued the document should be disclosed as it could negate the current case. “We believe, however, that this is a baseless, non-viable and potentially unlawful lawsuit that plaintiff has filed against the Duke. There has been a settlement agreement that the plaintiff has entered into in a prior action that releases the Duke and others from any and all potential liability,” Andrew Brettler said. Giuffre’s lawyer, David Boies, called the confidential agreement “irrelevant” at the same hearing last month, but this week wrote a letter to the judge asking for it to be handed over. (With reporting from CNN’s Brian Vitagliano in New York.)
Kate’s early years mission continues.
The Duchess of Cambridge has thrown her support behind a new “landmark” study into early childhood development. Kate stopped by University College London’s Centre for Longitudinal Studies on Tuesday to meet researchers behind “The Children of the 2020s” study. It’s set to monitor the holistic development of children in England between the ages of nine months and five years. Academics will soon start enlisting the help of up to 8,000 families and will explore the myriad factors that can affect a child’s early development, from home environment, to community, to early years services and broader social and economic circumstances. “Our early childhoods shape our adult lives and knowing more about what impacts this critical time is fundamental to understanding what we as a society can do to improve our future health and happiness,” Catherine said ahead of her visit, adding: “The landmark ‘Children of the 2020s’ study will illustrate the importance of the first five years and provide insights into the most critical aspects of early childhood, as well as the factors which support or hinder positive lifelong outcomes.” Kensington Palace said the engagement was the first of many the duchess plans to make in relation to the study. The critical role early childhood plays in lifelong outcomes has long been a subject close to Kate’s heart. Her decade-long work on the subject culminated in the creation of her own Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood in June.
DID YOU KNOW?
Beatrice’s choice of baby name honors the Queen.
Princess Beatrice, the elder daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah, Duchess of York, has revealed the name of her first child – and it includes a touching tribute to the baby’s great-grandmother, the Queen. Beatrice and husband Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi announced that their baby daughter – born on September 18 – has been named Sienna Elizabeth Mapelli Mozzi. The couple deviated from the royal tradition of sharing a photo of the newborn with the announcement, instead opting for a sweet image of an imprint of the baby’s feet. Read more.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Before returning to London, the Queen visited the Balmoral Cricket Pavilion to plant a tree to mark the start of the official planting season of the Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC) in Scotland on October 1. The QGC is a nationwide jubilee project aimed at creating a lasting tribute to the monarch’s 70 years of service by planting a network of trees in her honor. Charles joined his mother at the event, giving his “mama” a kiss on the cheek as she arrived at the engagement.
CNN’s new “Diana” series premieres this Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The first in the six-part series takes us right back to the beginning and re-introduces the world to the girl from Norfolk. Who was Diana Spencer before she became a world-beloved princess? With rarely seen footage and new interviews, we learn Diana was a lonely child with distant parents. Meeting Prince Charles was perhaps a dream come true, but Diana had little idea of the challenges she would face in her new role.
Queen to open Welsh Parliament. There’s no respite for the Queen, Charles and Camilla. Last weekend saw them attend the opening of the Scottish Parliament, while next week will see the trio head to the Welsh capital, Cardiff, for the opening ceremony of the Senedd. Following their arrival, both the Welsh and UK national anthems will be played, followed by a royal salute and honor guard made up of the Royal Navy, with the Band of the Royal Marines. Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales, and Elin Jones, Llywydd (or Speaker) of the Senedd, will greet the monarch before the royals meet party leaders and local VIPs including pandemic heroes from the community. During the ceremony, members of the first Welsh Youth Parliament will read a specially commissioned poem before the Queen delivers a speech and signs a commemorative parchment.
FROM THE ROYAL VAULT
In anticipation of the new CNN documentary on the late Princess of Wales, CNN Style’s Meghan C. Hills has been digging into Diana’s influence in the lives of her daughters-in-law. Both Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex are known to be trendsetters in their own rights. But they also borrow from the lookbook first presented by their spouses’ mother back in the day.
Hills highlights that both duchesses have combined elements of some of Diana’s most famous outfits into their own wardrobes. With Kate, for instance, that’s been in the use of Peter Pan collars and pussy bow blouses, while for Meghan it has translated to sharp tailoring and fitted dresses. The sartorial style-sharing doesn’t stop there.
Learn more about how the pair have continued to pay tribute to perhaps the most influential royal fashion icon of all-time here.
POSTCARDS FROM ROYALS AROUND THE GLOBE
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Japanese princess set to wed this month.
It’s been more than four years since they got engaged but Japan’s Princess Mako will finally wed her commoner fiancé in just over two weeks on October 26! The engagement of the 29-year-old granddaughter of former Emperor Akihito to Kei Komuro was first announced back in 2017. But a date for the wedding was held up following a financial dispute between Komuro’s mother and her former fiancé. It’s something of a controversial union as Mako has to give up her royal status in the name of love. Read the full story.