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uly is always one of the busiest months in the royal calendar and this year is no exception. Anniversaries, milestone birthdays and a twice-deferred state visit by the King and Queen of Spain are due to take place.

   Prince Michael of Kent, one of the most unassuming and underrated members of the royal family, will be 75 on 4 July, while the Duchess of Cornwall celebrates her 70th birthday on 17 July.

   Aware of the impending 20th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales at the end of August, Camilla understandably does not want a big fuss made of her birthday. Prince Charles loves giving parties and no doubt would have put on something extra-special for his ‘darling wife’, but at her insistence they are having a relatively low-key affair at Clarence House. Prince and Princess Michael always give a party for his birthday in their walled garden at Kensington Palace for family and friends.

   I was fortunate to talk to Prince Michael recently about his achievements and, as always, he had some erudite views on the world. I spoke to him the day after the Manchester terrorist attack and I was keen to get his opinions of the problems facing the youth of today. The next time I went to Kensington Palace was with photographer Sebastian Rich to take some pictures of the Prince and Princess to mark his birthday. That night there was another terrorist attack, this time on and near London Bridge.

   Members of the royal family are quicker to respond publicly to atrocities than they used to be, but still face the problem that their presence when visiting the injured in hospital can make it difficult for the police and emergency services if it happens too soon. They themselves are obvious targets for terrorists, since an attack on them would create maximum publicity. Nothing is ever as simple as it seems.

   In May the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister Pippa Middleton married financier James Matthews at the village church in Englefield, Berkshire. The media attention was out of all proportion for the occasion because two-year-old Princess Charlotte and Prince George, who will be four on 22 July, were a bridesmaid and pageboy for the first time. While the Duchess looked after the eight little bridesmaids and pageboys, Princes William and Harry strolled to the church together. Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s girlfriend, wisely stayed away from the nuptials but joined the party later.

   The other attendants – Pippa’s godson Casimir Tatos, Edward Sebire, William Ward, Philippa Hoyos, Lily French and James’s goddaughter Avia Horner, who was three that day – scattered rose petals as the newlyweds left the church. The children went home before the evening revelries, which continued until the early hours of the following morning.

   This month the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will continue their European charm offensive when they visit Poland and Germany at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. William and Catherine’s two-day visit to Paris in the spring was a huge success, but this latest trip is even more important now that negotiations for the UK to leave the EU have begun.


 
 
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