How the palaces' meticulous diary plans stop one royal upstaging another

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 06: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex speaks during a special school assembly at the Robert Clack Upper School in Dagenham ahead of International Women’s Day (IWD) held on Sunday 8th March, on March 6, 2020 in London, England.   (Photo by Ben Stansall-WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Meghan's visit to a school was under embargo until International Women's Day. (Getty Images)

With hundreds of royal engagements to facilitate and several households to work between, organising royal diaries is no easy task.

It’s no surprise that on some occasions there are clashes with some high profile members working on the same days on big issues.

Former press secretary to the Queen Dickie Arbiter has explained there is never an intent to put several top figures out and about in one day.

It comes after reports that there was friction between the Prince of Wales’ household and the Sussexes, when Meghan shared pictures of her secret meeting with the National Theatre as Camilla was giving a stirring speech on domestic violence.

Read more: Duchess of Cornwall challenges society as she declares domestic violence 'everyone's problem'

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 06: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall attends the Grand Opening Session of the WOW Festival 2020 at Southbank Centre on March 6, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Alistair Grant - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Camilla's speech was a year in the works. (Getty Images)

The Daily Express said Camilla had been frustrated to see the pictures emerge while Meghan was on another secret visit, this time to a school, when that visit had been placed under embargo until Sunday to coincide with International Women’s Day.

But Arbiter said: “The National Theatre thing was put out by them, you can’t dictate to them when they will put things out.

“There was a very small window for Harry and Meghan.

“You can’t say to the National Theatre ‘do not put that out’.”

Arbiter explained that the diaries are organised two to three times a year, and there are meetings across households to arrange big events.

Read more: Schoolboy says 'sorry Harry' after hugging Meghan in her surprise school visit

The households also try to leave gaps, for last minute arrangements, with Arbiter adding “the diary is never full up”.

He added: “There is usually an attempt not to cross engagements.

“But they are worked out with the host, and they might only have availability on a certain day.”

The expert told Yahoo UK: “Diaries are worked out in a block of six months. So the households will be having meetings in October for the first six months of the year.

“It is a nuts and bolts exercise, everything is pencilled in, then there will be a meeting with the joint households to discuss projects in the hope there will not be a clash.”

Read more: Kate and William removed from Commonwealth Day procession at Harry and Meghan's final engagement

Dickie Arbiter, a former press officer at Buckingham Palace, arrives at the Old Bailey, London, where he was expected to give evidence in the trial of Paul Burrell, the former butler to the Princess of Wales, who faces three charges of theft.  *   after police discovered more than 300 items belonging to the late princess and her family.   (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
Dickie Arbiter, a former press officer at Buckingham Palace, said there wouldn't be intention to clash in the diaries. (Getty Images)

He continued: “There will always be gaps for late bids, you do not know what will come in, or what will be required.”

He also denied that diary co-ordination would have been more difficult with Harry and Meghan’s decision to step back.

Meghan took on a number of secret engagements while she was in the UK, including one to the National Theatre, of which she will be a private patron after 31 March.

Read more: International Women's Day: The Royal Family's most feminist moments

The photos were shared with the Evening Standard, and then on the @Sussexroyal instagram.

They emerged soon after the Duchess of Cornwall gave a speech at the Women of the World festival in which she called domestic violence “everyone’s problem” and challenged society to change.

Meghan was at a school in east London on Friday afternoon, during the speech, but that whole event was under embargo until Sunday, because her visit was linked to International Women’s Day.