The Royal Family Wants to Carry Out “Business As Usual” Amidst Rough Start to 2024, But “There Is a Gloomy Atmosphere Behind the Scenes”

Behind Palace gates, the energy has shifted.

The royal family at Sandringham for Christmas 2023
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It would be an understatement to write that 2024 has been a tough year for the royal family. (We don’t have to tell you this, but) In January, news broke on the same day that Princess Kate had abdominal surgery the day prior, while, 90 minutes later, it was revealed that King Charles would have a procedure of his own—a corrective procedure for a benign enlarged prostate—later that month. (It was during this procedure that cancer was found in his body; the specific type of cancer has still not been shared by the Palace.) Within days, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, revealed that, just weeks after beating breast cancer, she had been diagnosed with skin cancer, malignant melanoma, specifically. A month later, Thomas Kingston—married to royal cousin Lady Gabriella—died by suicide at age 45.

It would be impossible, under these circumstances, not to be melancholy. Royals are royals, yes, but they’re also still human; they grieve and feel like the rest of us. There is, as ever, much work to be done in the family, and OK reports that the brood is attempting to keep on with “business as usual,” but that (quite understandably) “there is a gloomy atmosphere behind the scenes,” according to royal expert Richard Eden, speaking on the “Palace Confidential” podcast. 

Camilla, Queen Consort, King Charles III, Prince William, Princess Kate

Of the four most senior working royals (seen here), only Prince William is undertaking royal engagements this week

(Image credit: Getty)

Though remaining working royals like Queen Camilla (who is OOO this week) and Prince William are keeping up appearances while on royal engagements, OK writes that, behind Palace gates, there is a shift in energy within the family.

Royal expert Jo Elvin, speaking also on the “Palace Confidential” podcast, said that the events of the past couple of months have caused a “number of shocks to the system” for the monarchy, and that these are “unprecedented” times.

Queen Camilla

Queen Camilla, seen here at King Constantine of Greece's memorial service last week, is on vacation this week

(Image credit: Getty Images)

With Camilla on a much-deserved holiday after taking up the bulk of the royal family’s work as Charles and Kate recover (and Prince William aids in helping with his and Kate’s three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis, as she heals), William is currently the most senior working royal on duty—and the only one of the top four senior working royals currently undertaking engagements, as Charles, Kate, and now Camilla are off duty. Last week, William was criticized for pulling out of his godfather King Constantine of Greece’s memorial service at the eleventh hour (he cited “personal reasons” but didn’t disclose what exactly those reasons were). Even so, GB News anchor Cameron Walker said that, in true royal fashion, William will “keep calm and [carry] on” and not listen to the noise as he returns to work, forging ahead into the month of March, and hopefully smoother waters.

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.