Princess Anne’s warning not to slim the Royal Family down further was ‘right’ and with the ‘big three’ royals now off work the ‘desertion’ of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle has put The Firm ‘in trouble’, royal experts told MailOnline today.
The Princess of Wales is in hospital after an abdominal operation, Prince William has taken time off to care for his family and King Charles has revealed he needs a procedure on his enlarged prostate next week.
Experts have pointed to Princess Anne’s words from last May, where she told a Canadian broadcaster: ‘I think that “slimmed down” was said in a day when there were a few more people to make that seem like a justifiable comment’, adding: ‘It doesn’t sound like a good idea from where I’m standing.’
Royal biographer Phil Dampier has said that the absence of Harry, Meghan and Prince Andrew means ‘the slimmed down monarchy looks a bit too slim’.
He said that it ‘must raise the question of whether some minor royal jobs could be carried out by others like Princess Beatrice or Eugenie’. There have also been calls for Zara and Mike Tindall to do more.
But royal expert and investigative journalist Tom Bower says despite Kate and Charles’ health problems, the King must stay the course and not reverse the trend by relying on minor royals such as the Duke of York’s children.
Princess Anne insisted in May that that the monarchy is in safe hands with King Charles but that she didn’t agree that it could be slimmed down further
Harry and Meghan’s absence has left the Royal Family short, experts have said
Kate, Charlotte, George, William and Louis at the Sandringham Christmas Day 2023 service. William is taking time off to support his wife and care for their children
William drove a new electric Audi to be with his wife this morning
Queen Camilla opens the new ‘Safe Space’ during a visit to Aberdeen Art Gallery today. The Queen has said the King is ‘fine’ and ‘looking forward to getting back to work’ as he awaits treatment for an enlarged prostate
Charles attends a Sunday church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham on January 7. The King will be in hospital next week for a procedure on his prostate
Mr Dampier said: ‘Princess Anne said in an interview last year that she thought the monarchy was already slimmed down enough and she’s been proved right.
‘The events of this week also put into sharp focus how much the Duke and Duchess of Sussex‘s decision to leave has rocked the monarchy when originally they promised so much.
‘If Harry and Meghan hadn’t left for California and Prince Andrew hadn’t ruined his life by getting involved with sleaze, there wouldn’t be a problem. But without them the Firm is in trouble when the unexpected happens’.
He added: ‘You do wonder if in quiet moments Harry feels some pangs of guilt for deserting his family and the institution, but so far he has not shown any public signs of regret.
‘With Kate in hospital being looked after by William and the King going in next week, we are down to The Queen, Princess Anne and the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh as full time working royals. Two of them are over seventy and the ancient institution looks painfully thin on the ground’.
Tom Bower also believes the health problems at the top of the Royal Family shines a spotlight on Harry and Meghan, but says it will soon be business as usual.
He said: ‘Our hearts go out to the King and Princess of Wales. Their absence from our daily lives will make us appreciate them and the monarchy even more. However, this is not the moment to reverse the trend to slim down the monarchy.
‘Any suggestion that Beatrice and Eugenie should step in should be firmly quashed. Neither has done anything to deserve our respect. Harry had a marvellous opportunity to serve his country but disloyally not only deserted us but betrayed his countrymen and his family.
‘In a few weeks it will be back to “business as usual” and we will appreciate all the more how lucky we are to have the Royal Family to represent the best of British values‘.
The Princess of Wales has spent a second night in hospital after major abdominal surgery as William, her parents and siblings cleared their diaries to support her recovery and care for George, Charlotte and Louis.
Kate is said to be ‘doing well’ as she recovers following the procedure at the London Clinic in Marylebone revealed on the same day King Charles announced he was taking a short break for treatment for an enlarged prostate.
With Prince William also taking leave to care for his wife and children, the so-called ‘big three’ royals will be away from duties over the coming weeks with experts saying that with Harry and Meghan in the US, and Andrew in the cold, there is only Princess Anne and her brother Prince Edward to call on.
Kate is not expected to return to public events until after Easter, and her husband will combine being by his wife’s and children’s side throughout.
Any royal tours William and Kate had in the diary for the coming months will also no longer take place amid speculation they would visit Italy together in March.
Kate’s parents Carole and Michael Middleton and sibling Pippa Matthews and James Middleton are already rallying round and help support her recovery at her home in Windsor, which is close to their own homes.
The Royal Family‘s ‘big three’ are out of action because Buckingham Palace also revealed yesterday that King Charles III will attend hospital next week to be treated with a ‘corrective procedure’ for an enlarged prostate.
A police officer stands outside the London Clinic today, where Britain’s Catherine, Princess of Wales, is hospitalised for abdominal surgery
Kate’s parents Carole and Michael and sister and brother in law Pippa and James (all pictured at Westminster Abbey in December) are at the heart of the Middleton’s support network for her and her children
Kensington Palace announced that the Princess of Wales has had abdominal surgery
The statement about Charles’ health released by Buckingham Palace
The two health updates on senior royals came within 90 minutes of each other, with Kensington Palace coming first at 2pm then Buckingham Palace followed at 3.30pm.
She was not rushed for hospital and her condition was not something that developed over the weekend, according to reports.
The Prince will also postpone a number of engagements as he supports his family, and will not undertake official duties while his wife is in hospital.
He will also do no official duties during the immediate period after Kate’s return home. Royal aides will provide a revised schedule for William in due course.
It is unclear what the exact nature of the surgery, with The Palace unwilling to reveal any details in respect of Kate’s ‘medical privacy‘. However it did not rule out the prospect that she may choose to speak publicly about it herself in the future.
Sun GP Dr Zoe Williams told The Sun: ‘This might be something that has been bothering her for her whole life which she has not got round to resolving, or an issue that has come to light more recently.
‘Two weeks in hospital is longer than we would normally expect, but she doesn’t have a normal life. She’s the future queen so the doctors will be erring on the side of caution.
‘We all hope it is something minor and the surgery is straightforward, but precaution is wise. With anything medical you can never be completely certain how things will go.
‘The most important thing is that she gets enough recovery time and it’s not too stressful for her and her family.’
Kate arrives for the royal carol concert at Westminster Abbey on December 8 last year
Kate with her family at the Westminster Abbey carol concert on December 8 last year
Dr Deborah Lee, from Dr Fox Online Pharmacy, told The Express: ‘For abdominal surgery, most people stay in the hospital for four to seven days. After laparoscopic surgery [a type of keyhole surgery], this is reduced to two to four days.
‘It very much depends on what exactly has been done. If a patient needs to go to ITU, it’s likely their hospital stay would be considerably longer.
‘It can take two months or more for the patient to feel comfortable and be able to move around normally afterwards.’
Neither William nor Kate will travel internationally over the coming months.
William and Kate were said to have been planning a high-profile visit to Rome this spring as part of a European charm offensive, but this is now in doubt. Another scheduled foreign military engagement could be affected.
Kate will almost certainly be forced to miss a number of high-profile events she might otherwise been expected to attend.
She and William have regularly turned up for the Baftas, the biggest night in British cinema, held in central London this month, but this would be too soon for the recovering princess.
She is also likely to miss out on a long-standing royal tradition in March – handing out shamrocks to the Irish Guards on St Patrick’s Day in her role as the regiment’s honorary colonel.
The annual Commonwealth Day Service, also held in March, is likely to have to go ahead without her. The princess, patron of English rugby, is also unlikely to be well enough to attend the Guinness Six Nations, which kicks off next month.
Kate attends the Royal Variety Performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London last November
Police officers stand outside The London Clinic where Kate is staying after surgery
The Princess marked her birthday just over a week ago, with the monarchy’s official social media accounts sharing a new behind-the-scenes photo of the princess at the King’s coronation.
Kate usually enjoys good health but was previously admitted to hospital while pregnant after suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum – severe morning sickness.
A palace spokesman said: ‘Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales was admitted to The London Clinic for planned abdominal surgery.
‘The surgery was successful and it is expected that she will remain in hospital for ten to fourteen days, before returning home to continue her recovery. Based on the current medical advice, she is unlikely to return to public duties until after Easter.
‘The Princess of Wales appreciates the interest this statement will generate. She hopes that the public will understand her desire to maintain as much normality for her children as possible; and her wish that her personal medical information remains private.
‘Kensington Palace will, therefore, only provide updates on Her Royal Highness’ progress when there is significant new information to share.
‘The Princess of Wales wishes to apologise to all those concerned for the fact that she has to postpone her upcoming engagements.
‘She looks forward to reinstating as many as possible, as soon as possible.’
Royal expert Phil Dampier said: ‘Wishing the Princess of Wales a speedy recovery after abdominal surgery. We don’t know the details but clearly this was serious as she will be in hospital for a fortnight and needs up to three months to recover.’
And the Queen’s former press secretary Dickie Arbiter said on X: ‘I am sure I speak for everyone in wishing HRH a speedy recovery.’