Grant Harrold Exclusive

Grant Harrold
  • Former royal butler Grant Harrold says other member of the royal family will ‘have to up their game’ in the coming weeks, as Kate Middleton and Prince Charles remain away from duties 
  • Expects the likes of Zara Tindall, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie to increase their engagements 
  • Meanwhile, he also opens up on King Charles and Queen Camilla celebrating their 19th wedding anniversary 

We saw both William and Harry appear at the Diana Legacy event, but they weren’t both in the room as we saw Harry appear via video link. Can you explain a bit about this decision and what it says about the brothers’ relationship at the moment?

“There's a couple of things. It's sad that they went together, and I could be wrong here but the way the schedules work, Harry potentially could have been at the event, he's not on the royal diary, but could have been there. The fact he's not there signifies once again that the relationship between the two of them perhaps means they don't want to be in the same room together. I'd like that to be wrong, but I think that's how the relationship is at the moment. That could be unfair, it could be that he's got commitments, but I'm sure people will wonder why. It's great obviously that he’s still there via video, but it would have been better if he could have been there in person.

“The other thing that's interesting is I haven't heard what they said in their speeches but obviously they made reference to their mother. It’s amazing and brilliant that they have done that, but then part of me is kind of thinking, I don't think their late mother will be that happy about the fact that here we are in 2024 and the two brothers can't even be in the same room together. It could be for other reasons, but I'm looking at it like the rest of the world and thinking, is that because of the fallout, that they can't stand to be in the room with each other? It's great them both saying how proud their mother would be and everything, but I think their mother would probably be unhappy, forget about the event, but how all of this has played out.”

Absolutely, and we’ve seen that recent times have been very difficult for the royals in general…

“If I can say, it's an absolute constitutional disaster right now, because I have guests coming up to me. Of all the monarchies in Europe, our one is in a full-blown crisis. We've got the poor King. We've got the new Queen, and the reality is the popularity polls have shown she's not that popular. Obviously, no one is as popular as the late queen, but she's had to step up to the mark, and it’s a lot for a 76-year-old to take on. You've got a Princess of Wales that has vanished. You've got Harry and Meghan, who obviously have got issues with the family. The royal family is definitely in a crisis for the first time - a situation this bad. 

“I don't think there ever has been, even if you look at the constitutional crisis - the abdication - 70 years ago, this goes beyond that. It's a mess. And how do you fix it? You have to hope the king makes a recovery, and the Queen can stand in until that point, and Kate makes an appearance and hopefully then things can get back on track. But it just seems to be one thing after another.” 

It really does. We’ve not seen many royals showing face publicly recently - who do you think we might see more from in the coming weeks?

“I've noticed the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester have suddenly reappeared, these are royals in their 70s. These are royals you'd have thought would be slowing down and almost retired, but it seems to be the opposite. We're seeing more of them and it's almost like they're having to bring back royals that should be taking it easy, and they suddenly have to come back into the fold. How do I see it all fixed? Right now, I have absolutely no idea. Part of me is thinking, are they going to have to bite the bullet and say to Harry, ‘We need you to come back to help your brother with undertaking duties again’. He's not a working member of the royal family, but he is a senior member of the royal family. As such, at this point in time, with everything going wrong, it's not unreasonable to ask if he would. We don't know, but all I know is when families are in crisis, you find that family members rally round. You'd like to think that that is a possibility, but obviously as of yet there's been no sign of that. Who do you call? There is nobody else, that's the reality of it, there is nobody else. There aren't many options out there.” 

With Harry, could you see him returning as a fully working royal? 

“I don't see any reason why not? He's fifth in line to the throne. God forbid, if something happened that wiped out William's family, it is Harry and Meghan. That's what people forget; they are the next step at this moment in time. On that front, he is a significant member of the family, it will be a long time before that changes. As fifth in line to the throne, as Counsel of the State, as the son of the King, as the brother of the future king, you would think he would step in and come in to actually help, but for all we know, that may not have been asked, it might not have been. The household may have said, we're going to go down that route, possibly. I think they're gonna be shooting themselves in the foot if they don't consider that as an option. I know there's a lot of feelings about Harry and Meghan, and I know that they're careful, but this is a desperate time, and desperate times call for desperate measures. As I've said 100 times, I know how close Harry is to his brother, well how close he was to his brother and father, I know how close he was to Kate. So, forget everything that's happened over the last four years, looking historically, blood is thicker than water. Maybe this is the time they've got to bite the bullet and say, ‘Harry, we need you,’ and he's got to think, ‘Okay, I need to go in and actually help them out because they're in trouble’.”

If Harry was to return as a working royal, how do you think that would look to start off with, and how do you think the public would react?

“I don't think people could be unhappy about it because at the end of the day he's doing it for his father, and I think they'd be wrong to complain about it. I think the issue might be, people think, what if he's doing it for his own ends...  Maybe he'll come back and do a couple of engagements with his brother initially, to start off and then we may see him being asked to do things on behalf of his father. Which he would have been doing, just to be very clear ,100% he would have been doing this had things been different that no two ways about it.”

We’ve seen the likes of Princess Beatrice and Eugenie quite a lot recently, as well as Zara Tindall - will we be seeing more from them in the coming months?

“Yeah. What's interesting is that they haven't got much of an option. Beatrice and Eugenie are supposed to have their own careers, Zara's got her own career, and her family and stuff. They're the kind of Royals that are not technically classed as working Royals, if you like. I have noted that from time to time they do get called into help, not so much to go and carry out an engagement on their own but sometimes just as backup, and they'll suddenly turn up with another royal as a plus one. We could probably see more of that going forward, which is ironic because the king initially spoke about a scaled down royal family but because what's happened, they're having to change that idea, put it on the back burner and actually go, ‘Right what royals have we got there, what pool have we got, what resources can we call in?’ I hope it doesn't get to a point where we're calling in European royals because we've got no royals of our own left…”

Another royal who is often overlooked is Princess Anne. Do you think we in this country take for granted how much she does?

“Anne undertakes more engagements than anyone, in some years she's done 500 odd engagements, and the King has done 400 odd engagements. She has definitely been the hardest working royal for many, many years. She often does double the amount of engagements compared to William and Catherine. I really like Princess Anne, I've got a lot of time for her. She's an amazing grafter, she's somebody who gets stuff done. She's like her father, no nonsense, and says as it is, but she gets the job done. Like her mother, she's very happy to put duty before everything, and that's what she does. The king made her a bodyguard last year, increasing her role as a counselor for the state, and she’s a senior member of the royal family. She may be way down the pecking order of inheriting the throne, but she still is a very important part of the royal family. She already does more engagements than the rest of them, so I don't know how she can increase that. But I'm sure if she can, she will.”

Also, we’ve got Prince Edward and Sophie, do you think perhaps they might start doing more engagements this year?

“Obviously, they've had their own careers. I've noticed in recent years they started doing more royal engagements and increased their workload, especially around the time the Queen and Prince Philip took steps back, they started becoming involved. I think that will just continue, and I can see them doing more engagements. What's interesting, what I have also noted is it's not just, for example, Edward and Sophie, I've noticed WIlliam and Sophie, or Edward and Beatrice... There's a mix happening. It's not the traditional husband and wife, brother and brother, there's a real mixture. This is what proves to me that they are really calling in resources and just trying to make it somehow work in order to keep it running basically. It's that situation when above water, it all looks very graceful and calm and dignified, but underwater, there's mad paddling going on because they're trying to keep the show running, keep it moving.”

We’ve got some key royal dates coming up in April, such as Charles and Camilla’s wedding anniversary - how are they likely to celebrate that?

“I can't believe this, it's 19 years this year, I was there, I was in the church. They'll celebrate it, but they're not big. They don't have parties or celebrations, or anything like that at all. Maybe for 20 years, they will. But it's normally marked privately between the two of them. I'm sure there'll be a card and then a gift. The way that other people celebrate it, they'll probably do the same, but I'm sure this will be a bit more poignant. It'll probably be a bit emotional this year with everything going on. I have no doubt they'll be together for the occasion, and I'm sure behind closed doors, they'll probably have a romantic dinner with just the two of them. With the King's treatment he might not have any other people there, so it is likely to be private between the two of them.”

That’s a great point, I guess Charles and Camilla probably get cards on their anniversary too - can you talk about the scale of cards and gifts from well-wishers on those sorts of occasions?

“They get thousands. What happens, just to give people a bit of hope, they can't see them all, it's impossible, you can't send them hundreds of 1000s of cards and think they're going to see them all, but what happens is the cards go to the office and they do all get read, and as far as I know, as many as possible, as is sensible, get responded to. There always is a cross section that's taken out and put separately and that cross section is presented to the members of the royal family to read.”

The late Queen’s official birthday was in April, will the royals do anything to mark this?

“No, they won't publicly. Privately, I have no doubt they'll raise a glass to her in the evening. You'd like to think they'll have a gin and dubonnet, but that's not reality. They'll raise a glass of whatever their tipple is. I'm sure the day will very much be spent reflecting on the late Queen. I can almost guarantee that if you were to go to Windsor Castle that day, it's very likely there'll be some flowers on the tomb that have been sent by the family members. Sometimes on royal anniversaries, flowers are sent to royal graves. I could be completely wrong, but I think it's very possible there will be flowers on the tombstone, and there'll be well-wishers there on the day as well that may want to put flowers on the grave or around the area.”

And can you think of any other key dates coming up in recent weeks?

“We’ve also got the anniversary of William and Catherine on the 29th of April. Again, with everything going on with Kate, that won't be a public thing, that's going to be very private. Behind closed doors I'm sure William will work to make sure she's spoiled. It's possible William might cook, he's quite a good cook so it's possible he might do a little meal or something. Again, it's just going to be a private affair between the two of them. Once again, there'll still be an exchange of gifts, I have no doubt they will give each other a gift, I've no doubt they will exchange cards. I've no doubt that there'll be a special meal for them, whether it's a meal where they invite friends and family, or just them, I suppose it depends how Kate is getting on. Again, well-wishers will pass on their love with cards. Also, people do send gifts. Obviously not all the gifts are passed on, but they are made aware of the gifts and where appropriate, they are passed on. If you think of the sheer volume that comes in, it's just not always possible.

“Then there’s the Grand National in April too. The royals like to put a little flutter in unofficially, it wouldn't surprise me. The late Queen and present Queen love racing. So, it wouldn't surprise me if they put a little flutter on the racing as well. We won't see them at that, they don't go to that, but it wouldn't surprise me if they put an event on. On the 30th of March is the anniversary of the death of the Queen mother, she died in 2002, 22 years ago. That's an occasion that I guarantee you that the King will mark, potentially privately. Again, it wouldn't surprise me if you see flowers appear on the tombstone for that occasion as well. The king adored his grandmother and I know for a fact that he does remember her on those occasions because he absolutely adored his grandmother and people forget, you know, she was a very big part of his life. Again, it will just be marked privately, between them, raising a glass, flowers, probably just reminiscing, speaking to other family members about her, I'd like to think.”

It feels like it's gonna be an absolutely pivotal month, doesn't it?

“I think it will, there is a lot going on. I'm sure there's other bits, I can't think of them, but I'm sure there's other things. The social season starts in March, and so you find that it starts to pick up in the spring, that's when you start seeing more of the Royals again. Of course, we're not going to see much of the King just now, or Kate. The other royals are going to be having to up their game in the meantime. I think so.”

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V: 1.50.0 All rights reserved. January 2020