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  • Rachel Burchfield

Notes on a scandal

Updated: May 28, 2019


Does this couple look as though one of them was just caught having an affair? (This photo was taken just yesterday, at the Queen’s garden party at Buckingham Palace.) I don’t think so.

Either William and Kate have severely missed their calling as Academy Award-winning actors or the rampantly rumored affair between William and Kate’s former best friend, Rose Hanbury, didn’t happen.

I have been procrastinating writing this post because I have so much to say – but everything I have to say has a contradiction. The short answer is, I obviously have no clue if William had an affair. But let me tell you what I do know, and, then, what I think about what has become known as the “Rural Rival.”

Okay. So William and Kate were couple BFFs with former model Rose Hanbury, 35, and her husband, David Rocksavage, 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley, 58. (Please note the stark age difference and try to say the word Cholmondeley five times fast.) They were neighbors in Norfolk and socialized together as couples. Suddenly, earlier this year, Kate ended the friendship, and tongues started wagging. Not long after, it was rumored that the reason for Kate – normally a pretty docile person not prone to emotional outbursts – severing the friendship was because William cheated on her with Rose.

At first, I believed it, and here’s why. The Royal Family was (not really is anymore because, thankfully, adultery doesn’t seem to run rampant in the Family like it did when Charles, Anne, and Andrew were in their first marriages) notorious for doing favors for the cheated-on spouse after affairs. It used to be that if you got cheated on, you got special favors afforded to you. I started noticing this spring that Kate suddenly a.) had her first solo event with the Queen (after having been in the Family for eight years), b.) got an impressive new title, a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, on her wedding anniversary this past April, and c.) is suddenly undertaking more solo work, such as her recent garden opening in Chelsea. It all seemed a little too fishy for me, to have all of that happen right after William was accused of cheating and around her wedding anniversary – which, at her eighth anniversary, wasn’t even a really significant anniversary like, say, her fifth, or her upcoming tenth. It seemed to me that, damn, maybe this affair really did happen and the Family was pacifying a pissed off Kate with all of this stuff. Also, I stand firm in that the rumored “feud” between the Cambridges and the Sussexes, if it is even a feud at all, is not between Kate and Meghan (why does everyone always try to pit women against each other?) but rather between William and Harry, with this Rose Hanbury affair at the center of it.

In the modern Royal Family – and by “modern Royal Family” I mean the Queen, Prince Philip, and their descendants – cheating used to be so common that it was embarrassing. Philip is said to have had a roving eye, a fact captured in the brilliant Netflix series The Crown. Charles cheated rampantly on Diana, mostly with Camilla – his now wife – leading Diana to famously say in an interview “Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.” Diana cheated right back with multiple men of her own. Princess Anne, the Queen’s only daughter, sent love letters back and forth with Timothy Laurence, the Queen’s Equerry, while still married to her first husband, Mark Phillips. Mark and Anne divorced in 1992, and Anne married Timothy by the end of that same year. (Mark wasn’t an angel; he had affairs as well, including fathering a love child during his marriage to Anne.) Sarah Ferguson – or, back then, the Duchess of York – famously got caught getting her toes sucked (you seriously cannot make this stuff up – it’s better than Hollywood could write it) by a man that was not her husband while she was still married to Prince Andrew. (These two have a really weird relationship and, despite being divorced for over 20 years, still live in the same residence and are best friends.) The only one of the Queen’s four children who never got caught up in adultery was her youngest, Edward, who has had a seemingly normal marriage to Sophie since 1999. So, sadly, cheating is in William’s blood.

(I should point out here that everyone involved vehemently denies the affair. And, of course, I have no freaking clue. This is all speculation.)

The rumor is that while Kate was pregnant with Prince Louis in the latter half of 2017 and early part of 2018, the affair happened, and, when Kate found out, she did a deep cut and extricated Rose from their lives. And that’s what supposedly started the feud between the Cambridges and the Sussexes – first of all, Harry is extremely close to Kate and loves her like he would a blood sister, and Harry, like William, had to live through the absolute living hell Diana was put through by Charles’ affair with Camilla. Diana – probably to a fault – let William and Harry see the anguish their father caused her. So, knowing what an affair can do to a woman, how in the hell could William do that to Kate? To their children? While she was pregnant? So, like I said, I don’t think Kate and Meghan ever had a problem with one another; I think Harry was so appalled and disgusted by even the hint of an affair that he distanced himself from his brother.

Personally, I don’t think an affair happened. But I think it got really, really close. I think Rose wanted it, and William might have skated close to the line, but never crossed it. I think something slightly untoward happened, but I don’t think it was a full-blown affair. Even the most emotionally stable woman, if cheated on while pregnant, could never be as copasetic with her husband so soon after a betrayal like that, especially on the world stage. I mean, look at them at all of the events they’ve been to together lately, including the photo above from just yesterday. Either the affair didn’t happen or these two are the best damn actors the world has ever seen.

My conclusion: I think Rose stepped out of bounds. She is a known social climber, and what a coup to land Prince William, even extramaritally. William never acted on it, but it got dicey. So, to make sure nothing of the sort ever happened again, Rose was cut off immediately. And the Cambridges lived happily ever after. I hope.

This generation of Royals is so different – thank God – from their predecessors. I mean, if Beyonce or Halle Berry – two of the most beautiful women in the world – can be cheated on, I guess Kate could, too, but William repeating that generational pattern of adultery after seeing everything his father’s affair did to his mother would just be beyond the pale hurtful. Every year on April 29, the Cambridges’ wedding anniversary, I watch the DVD of their wedding a dear friend got me for Christmas one year. I didn’t watch it in protest this year, because back on April 29 I was absolutely certain that William cheated and I couldn’t look at them, so happy on that day, and not get furious. But this past month has given me some time and space to think (I'm about to cut myself off from writing more because my goodness I am starting to sound pathetic), and seriously, unless Kate just is completely devoid of emotions and unaffected by her partner of 18 years and the father of her three children stepping out on her – seriously, she’s never looked happier – then it didn’t happen.

May this be a wakeup call to everyone in this generation of Royals to not repeat the mistakes of the past. The monarchy is evolving and changing in so many new and exciting ways, and it has left behind some traditions that needed to be let go. Hopefully this generation has left the unfortunate trend of adultery behind forever in the past.

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