Kate Middleton, The Queen: Royal kiss sends an important message

Flower shows are normally all about genteel septuagenarians pottering around and raving about petunias. Pearls are de rigueur and hip replacements are a dime a dozen.

What you don’t expect at such a restrained outing is hardcore family drama being played out amid forget-me-nots and babbling man-made brooks.

But, this is the British royal family, and drama tends to follow them like an annoying dorgi.

This week they made a foray, en masse, to the annual Chelsea Flower Show, which sounds about as interesting as Princess Anne explaining her thoroughbred breeding regimen.


First, let’s talk about The Kiss. When Her Majesty the Queen popped along to check out the garden designed by Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, the scene that unfolded was subtly extraordinary.

See, all women in the royal family must curtsy to the Queen (and blokes must bow). Yet, when Kate saw the Queen, she instead kissed her on both cheeks and then quickly curtsied.

Trust me: This is BIG news.

media_cameraTrust us. This is a really big moment. Picture: James Whatling / MEGA
media_cameraAfter the kiss came the curtsy. Picture: Suzanne Plunkett / RHS Chelsea Flower Show

For Kate to be allowed to greet Her Majesty with such informality is a breathtakingly big tick of approval. As with everything the royal family does, symbolism and image matter deeply. A quick double peck might be how the Windsor clan usually greets their regal grandma when they arrive at Balmoral.

But to kiss her with a phalanx of cameras and press watching sends a very direct and forceful message: The Queen thinks Kate is doing a cracking job. Two thumbs up. Ten tiaras out of 10!

media_cameraThe Queen with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Picture: Geoff Pugh/Pool via AP

It is not the first time this year Her Majesty has clearly demonstrated her significant pleasure with Kate. In March, the Queen singled Kate out for a solo official visit during which they memorably shared a knee blanket. Then, on April 29, the Queen made Kate a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victoria Order (GCVO), the highest accolade she can dole out.

media_cameraThe Queen sent a clear signal when her and Kate made their first joint appearance in March. Picture: Paul Grover/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

This series of highly public endorsements comes as things are heating up on Instagram for the Cambridges and the Sussexes.

Any day now, Meghan and Harry’s @SussexRoyal account is set to overtake Wills and Kate’s @KensingtonRoyal, a feat they have managed to achieve in a mere two months or so. Similarly, their most recent posts have outstripped the Cambridges’ social media forays.

For example, a recent kinda dull solo shot of Harry talking on a stage got 291,000 likes. In contrast, an equally boring shot of Wills only managed to squeak to 122,000 likes.

Heart-melting pics of Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis all playing in Kate’s new garden garnered less than one million a piece. One image of nothing more than Archie’s feet and Meghan’s perfect manicure hit 2.1 million likes.

For two brothers and two royal brands that have seemingly been at odds for an extended period of time now, it would be hard not to view a clearly visible metric to gauge public interest a source of potential tension.

Quite how the two social accounts are managed is the subject of significant ongoing speculation (is there any co-ordination at all?!) given the recent instances in which they have posted simultaneously, setting up Instagram face-offs, whether they like it or not.

For example, Sunday marked Harry and Meghan’s first wedding anniversary, so they put out a series of never-before-seen black and white photos of their big day. Total social media catnip! Yet on the very same day, whether on purpose or by accident, shots of Kate in her floral wonderland were also posted. Both would usually be the leading royal story of the day, yet instead these duelling posts duked it out for attention and likes.

media_cameraWills and Kate with George and Louis in the Chelsea Flower Show garden designed by Kate. Picture: Matt Porteous/Kensington Palace via Getty Images

This isn’t the first time a concurrent social media storm has occurred. On April 22, the day before Prince Louis’ first birthday, the Kensington Palace Insta apparatus shared shots of the tiny royal wearing a succession of adorable jumpers (which are nicer than you or I will ever own).

Releasing images of the Cambridge troika to celebrate their birthdays has become standard practice, and you could set your calendar by the frequency with which Kate grabs her trusty Nikon.

Interesting then that @SussexRoyal decided choose that same moment to share a series of truly remarkable images taken by Prince Harry of animals in Africa to mark Earth Day. The lingering question is, why not post Harry’s pics a day before? And why has there been such a dearth of co-ordination between the two brothers’ camps?

Still, no matter what is going on behind the scenes at Kensington Palace and Frogmore Cottage, one thing is clear. Kate’s garden is a massive hit (there are already huge queues to see her handiwork). And secondly, it is clear as day the Queen thinks the world of Kate, and there is no more valuable currency in royal circles, not even Instagram likes.

Originally published as Key moment we missed in royal photo

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