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n 21 April the Queen will celebrate her 88th birthday, which this year falls on Easter Monday. There will almost certainly be a gathering for lunch or dinner, with as many of her family present as possible. But the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George, the monarch’s first great-grandson, will be thousands of miles away in Canberra on the second leg of their three-week tour of New Zealand and Australia.

   On Easter Sunday William and Kate will be in Sydney, where they are due to visit Taronga Zoo – one of the most beautiful spots for any zoo in the world – on the shore of Sydney Harbour. The zoo’s bilby enclosure, dedicated to the preservation of the endangered rabbit-like creature, is to be named the Prince George Enclosure after their eight-month-old son.

   If he accompanies his parents I am sure the little Prince will be fascinated by the animals, with their huge ears, long snout and a pouch that opens backwards. Australians are trying to get them to replace the Easter bunny in the public’s affection to encourage their preservation in the wild.

   The Cambridges, to maintain as normal a life as possible, have made a valiant effort to do without lots of staff. They have discovered, however, that it is nigh on impossible to live as members of the royal family doing endless official duties without a team of people to help smooth the way. I always felt it would be difficult for the Duchess to function in her royal role without a nanny to help her with George and I am not surprised that she has had to succumb.

   William’s former nanny, Jessie Webb, will help out when needed, but she is retired and can’t work full time. So the Duchess has appointed a new permanent nanny in time to accompany them on the trip Down Under. They are travelling with a retinue of only 11 staff, including a hairdresser but no dresser for Kate or valet for William.

   This is a small team by royal standards. When the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall travel officially they usually take a hairdresser, dresser, valet and at least a dozen other staff. Prince Charles also likes to have a travelling artist, whom he pays for himself. Overseas trips are part-funded by the host country with the Foreign Office allowing expenses for some clothing and other necessary items.

   Prince Harry, meanwhile, has boundless enthusiasm for his latest high-profile project, the Invictus Games. From 10-14 September more than 300 wounded, injured and sick Armed Forces personnel will compete in a range of sports at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London.

   The international sporting competition will receive global attention and undoubtedly test Harry’s organisational skills for the next six months. The Prince is passionate about the event, so much so that he left the Army Air Corps to focus on it.

   A ‘significant’ grant will come from the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry to help finance the staging of the Invictus Games.


 
 
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