In the Midst of Harry and Meghan's Private Jet Drama, Will and Kate Flew Commercial

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Just as Harry and Meghan are in the middle of a furor about their use of private jets, Will and Kate and their kids conspicuously flew commercial to Scotland. Not to sound like somebody who “doesn’t have time for drama,” yet definitely has time for drama, sometimes you gotta wonder!!!

The Sussexes have been roundly criticized in recent days for their decision to fly private for summer getaways to Ibiza and Nice, right after Harry also flew private to—literally—a Google climate change summit in Sicily. They have also been fiercely defended by celebrities from Elton John to Ellen Degeneres. Yes, their privacy concerns are real; however, they walked (heh) right into this one.

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Call it “carbon neutral,” it’s still a private jet and the royals should expect to get dinged if they preach environmentalism and then take a private jet and at the very least they should hire some advisors to tell them that. But the sheer blow-out nature of the coverage was in keeping with the deteriorating relationship between the couple and the British press, much of which loves to paint Meghan as a Hollywood diva.

Which brings us to today’s article in the Daily Mail, which boasts pictures of Will, Kate, and company boarding a FlyBe flight to Aberdeen, Scotland. The article likely has the ghost of Queen Victoria somewhere smiling serenely at the fact she and Albert so effectively rebranded her dynasty as just another loving, relatable middle-class family that the narrative is still going strong more than a century after her death:

Looking like your archetypal family man on holiday, Prince William can be seen clutching a number of bags while George, six, and Charlotte, four, run excitably alongside him.

Surprised passengers saw Kate walking just behind her husband and holding Louis, one, alongside the family’s nanny Maria Borrallo.

Now, I’ve been a little skeptical about the specifics of this supposed feud, which seems partially real, partially media-stoked. But only someone truly naive wouldn’t have foreseen how this would play out. The Daily Mail article includes for comparison multiple pictures of Meghan and Archie boarding Elton John’s private jet, with the headline: “Prince William, Kate Middleton and their children are seen getting off a £73 budget flight to Scotland amid row over Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s summer of private jet trips.” Just in case they weren’t hitting you over the head hard enough, the Mail spoke to royal observer Phil Dampier, who told them:

‘A cynic might say the Cambridges have done it deliberately, bearing in mind all the recent stories about the two brothers and their wives not getting on.

‘After all Meghan told Vogue magazine she didn’t want to be on the cover of the magazine she edited because it would have been boastful knowing full well Kate had been a cover girl.

‘And Harry and Meghan made a point of saying they were only having two children to save the planet knowing William and Kate had three.

‘Could this be William and Kate hitting back? At the very least they would have known they would have been criticised if they had taken a private jet.’

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Really, there was no smooth move for the Cambridges here. Fly commercial, and it’s a kiss-off to Meghan and Harry. But clearly taking private jets pisses the public off, and with the Andrew crisis bubbling away, it’s a good time for the royals to lay low and play it very, very safe. That’s the best argument against this being some deliberately shady move—maybe it was just the best of their bad options, optics-wise.

But it’s worth noting that a few pictures of Will and Kate and their kids flying budget don’t make them climate radicals or coupon-clippers, either. It’s worth remembering that Will and Kate and kids were on their way to Balmoral, a giant castle. And this was their second summer holiday—they previously went to Mustique, in the Caribbean, which is “an entirely private island and has its own police force to keep its rockstar and socialite clientele away from prying eyes,” the Sun reported. 

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Maybe not the “archetypal family man on holiday,” after all.

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