The modern day “heir and spare” dynamic—this time between Prince George and Princess Charlotte, as opposed to the much-discussed sibling tension between Prince William and Prince Harry before them—will play out much differently than in the past. According to royal expert Richard Eden of The Daily Mail, Charlotte—as well as, presumably, younger brother Prince Louis as well—will be expected to get a job rather than be a full-time working royal, as Harry was prior to his and wife Meghan Markle’s departure from The Firm in January 2020.
This reflects King Charles’ vision for a slimmed-down monarchy, one William—Charlotte’s father and future king himself—also supports, not wanting history to repeat itself, the outlet reports.
“From what I hear, the Prince and Princess of Wales want Charlotte, aged seven, to grow up with the expectation that she will get a job and not be a full-time royal,” Eden writes. He continued “Personally, I would prefer to see a larger Royal Family, carrying out more official engagements and meeting more members of the public. If Charlotte is to get a job and not be an active member of ‘The Firm,’ she needs to be ready to step into the breach, if needed.”
This is a huge shift from generations past, where Queen Elizabeth’s “spare,” Princess Margaret, was a working royal; all three of Charles’ siblings—Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward—worked for The Firm, with Anne and Edward still very much doing so, while Andrew’s sexual assault lawsuit forced his exit; and Harry, up until three years ago, was expected to spend his life as a working royal, as well. Harry’s disdain for his role as spare is so strong he titled his memoir just that, and spoke candidly about playing second fiddle in the book: “I was brought into the world in case something happened to Willy,” he wrote, claiming that his parents and grandparents even referred to him and William as “the heir and the spare” as a form of “shorthand.” He described his life as a “mission to offer a source of distraction, entertainment, and, in case of need, a spare part,” such as a kidney, blood transfusion, or bone marrow, should William need it.
The book, though controversial, could provide needed lessons for the royal family in terms of the infamous heir and spare dynamic, Eden writes.
“The book inspires some deep thought about how to avoid any repeat of the breakdown in relations between the royal heir and ‘spare,’” he writes.
And, though Harry was the only one to write a book about it, in their own ways Margaret and Charles’ then second-in-command, Andrew, had their own struggles as “spare”—struggles it appears William and Kate are very keen for Charlotte to avoid.
Rachel Burchfield is a writer whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family. In addition to serving as the royal editor at Marie Claire, she has worked with publications like Vogue, Vanity Fair, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, and more. She cohosts Podcast Royal, a show that provides candid commentary on the biggest royal family headlines and offers segments on fashion, beauty, health and wellness, and lifestyle.
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