The 360: Has it been a good week for the royals?

“The 360” shows you diverse perspectives on the day’s top stories.

Harry and Meghan have been carrying out their final engagements in the UK. (Getty Images)

What’s happening

In what is widely thought to be Prince Harry and Meghan’s last few engagements before they step down as senior royals, the past few days have seen them very much in the public eye.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex made their first joint engagement in nearly two months, appearing in London together at the Endeavour Fund awards.

Meghan told a crowd of ex-servicemen it was “nice to be back” as she presented an award, while her husband noted the “once served, always serving” element of being in the military.

She was then spotted at a school in Dagenham on a surprise visit for International Women’s Day, and spent Saturday evening at the Royal Albert Hall, where she was given a standing ovation as they took their seats for the Mountbatten Festival of Music.

On Sunday, the pair joined the Queen at church in Windsor – the first time Meghan had seen the monarch since before their shock announcement.

Meanwhile, Prince William and his wife Catherine made their first official visit to Ireland, at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spent three days on the Emerald Isle, visiting the Guinness Storehouse, spending time with the president and the prime minister, and visiting several charities covering areas close to their hearts.

Why there’s debate

The decision by Harry and Meghan to step back from their royal roles has created an enormous shift in the Royal Family, and thrown William more into the spotlight.

There was already suggestion the Royal Family was being “slimmed down” and the decision for the Sussexes to exit stage left changes the dynamic even further.

Their plans to forge a new path haven’t turned out the way they hoped they would. This is their final flurry of engagements expected in the UK before they begin their life in Canada, and it will provide an insight into how things might work after they leave.

As a result, the past week’s worth of engagements have provided an interesting glimpse into how life will work once the split is made formal at the end of this month.

When it comes to the Cambridges’ tour of Ireland, not only has it been interesting to see how they will react to the renewed focus, but there was also a clear political element to the trip. The UK and Ireland have a rocky history and there’s always uncertainty over how a royal couple will be received on the Emerald Isle.

William and Kate in a traditional Irish pub in Galway. (British Embassy)

What’s next

For Kate and William, this tour will hopefully have helped build on the friendship between the UK and Ireland, and the couple might hope their work will translate to improvements in the Brexit negotiations.

The trip was well received both in Ireland and in the UK. Huge crowds gathered, both at planned and unplanned walkabouts.

For Harry and Meghan, they will be able to make their own money from April and won’t be bound by carrying out royal duties. How they react – and how that affects other royals – will be keenly monitored.

Perspectives

Kate strikes the balance to bring the royals up-to-date

“Playing the part of a Royal must sometimes be very difficult because one has to give something to the public without giving too much, to respect tradition and necessary formalities while also letting us glimpse the human being beneath. The Duchess has struck exactly that balance, and it has helped bring the Royal family up to date. 

“Few heads of state in the world today are as visible or intimately known as the Royal family, or as popular. That enduring public support is down in no small part to the Duchess’s honesty and charm.” – The Daily Telegraph view

It’s up to Kate to represent modern womanhood

“Now that Meghan has been banished, it is up to Kate to represent the future of modern womanhood within the cage that is the Royal Family. What a terrible fate.

“She has chosen to focus on the under-fives and is concerned about early-years development. She seems to genuinely love kids and happy childhoods for all!

“Small children. It’s hard to think of a less controversial cause. Away, Meghan and Harry, with your outré woke chat about racism and rape.” – Suzanne Moore, The Guardian

The Cambridges will strengthen the link between the UK and Ireland

“While the Cambridges will inevitably stay clear of politics – Ireland remains deadlocked following last month’s election – and post-Brexit trade talks, they will, nevertheless, strengthen the relationship between Britain and the Emerald Isle. As such, the hope is that such ambassadorial work is recognised at a time when the decision of Sussexes has proved so distracting to the Royal family.” – The Yorkshire Post

Surprise proposal fails to take spotlight off 'torn' Sussexes

“Stepping on stage at the awards she clearly wanted to move the attention back onto the worthy winners, but as she spoke about watching the videos of the nominees over in Canada, it was a reminder that she hasn't been around for the challenging conversations that Harry has been having with his family. The fallout from their announcement and their desire to be financially independent has felt sour and upsetting for the Royal Family.

“In a welcome distraction for the couple, the award ceremony was the perfect setting for Danny Holland, a veteran who won the recognising achievement award, to propose to his girlfriend. But even that wasn't enough to draw attention away from the couple of the moment, with Harry and Meghan's engagements over the next few days likely to be their last official royal outings, as they prepare for their own new start.” – Rhiannon Mills, Sky News

The gloves are off as William and Kate launch charm offensive

“They were greeted by Art O’Leary, the President’s private secretary. Everybody was wearing clothes. Details were taken. There was some disappointment that the duchess wasn’t wearing a hat. Inside they signed the visitors’ book as Michael D and Sabina looked on. The Cambridges have it handy when it comes to scratching their monikers on parchment for posterity. They don’t have to explain who they actually are or write profound messages.

Instead the king-to-be-but-one sat down at the table made especially for his granny when she visited in 2011, and, with a hint of flourish, wrote “William” in the middle of the blank page. Then his wife took over the chair, bent her head over the book and wrote “Catherine” a few lines below. And that was the presumptuous that. No wonder they had to repair next door with Michael D and Sabina for cups of tea and lemon drizzle cake. They must have been exhausted”. – Miriam Lord, the Irish Times.

The royal game is a lot easier than the Sussexes made it

“I hope Meghan and Harry see the reaction to last night’s Grinning In The Rain photo and understand the royal game is a lot easier than they have tried to make it. It’s just a shame they didn’t work it out before their petulant abdication from regal duties – because the Meghan and Harry from last night could have been a great asset to the Royal Family.” – Piers Morgan, MailOnline

The Queen may never accept Megxit

“What makes the Sussexes’ departure to Canada particularly difficult is that the Queen tried so hard to make them feel at home at Windsor, moving mountains behind the scenes to get the young family into a beautifully renovated Frogmore Cottage, providing them access to her team of chefs and even popping around as often as possible for tea. But the Queen is nothing if not practical.

“The Queen has not accepted that Megxit is permanent and probably never will. Harry needs some time away to explore and live a life where he isn’t playing second fiddle to his father and brother. Duty and the love of his country might just pull him back soon, she hopes.” – Dan Wootton, The Sun

Harry and Meghan put on a united front at Endeavour Fund awards

“Despite the turbulence of the past few months, you don't need to be a body language expert to see the message is one of a strong united front. This is a couple walking in lock-step – both literally and figuratively. 

“As Harry put it earlier this year, clearly insulted by claims he is being 'controlled' by his wife, ‘I know you've come to know me well enough over all these years to trust that the woman I chose as my wife upholds the same values as I do. And she does, and she's the same woman I fell in love with’.” – Lucy Pavia, Evening Standard

The roar from the crowd was spontaneous and heartfelt

“Standing ovations usually occur at the end of a performance. But on Saturday night, the final show in this year’s Mountbatten Festival of Music began with one, as HRH Prince Harry took his seat next to his wife Meghan in what was his last official duty as Captain General of the Royal Marines. The roar was spontaneous and heartfelt.

“Before they had taken their seats, live footage of the pair meeting band members backstage had been broadcast: Meghan in a red dress so radiant it out-glowed the livery of the Marines themselves; Harry, in dress uniform for the final time, greeting former comrades but also saying farewell. If I felt a bit choked, one can only guess at what the Prince must have been feeling.” – Claire Alfree, The Daily Telegraph

We drove Harry and Meghan away

“God speed, guys, but I predict that hearts will harden towards Harry and Meghan over the next few years. Not because they will continue to cost us millions in security, but because they will become emblematic of us, the British, not being able to have nice things. We drove these photogenic rich people away — yes, by tittering at their interest in saving the planet one Learjet flight at a time, but also by being weirdly possessive of their child and creepy to the point of ugh about how many photos we could take of him.” – Harriet Walker, The Times

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