Despite a flurry of reports towards the end of 2015 that Kate Middleton is “keen to demonstrate an increased commitment to the charity sector” as the Daily Mail indicated, Kate has performed exactly 0 official engagements to date this year and hasn’t done an official engagement since December 16, 2015. While the British Royal Family has padded Kate’s engagements in the past, the brief wreath laying on January 10th was not included in the Court Circular as an official event.
Since joining the British Royal Family five years ago, Kate Middleton has undertaken a grand total of 342 engagements. In 2015, the Queen carried out 341 engagements. So basically it takes a 34-year-old-duchess five years to rack up the same number of events an 89-year-old-monarch knocks out in one year.
Duchessing comes with some pretty impressive job security. With most jobs, if you don’t bother showing up for work for over a month, your framed pictures, plants and the marshmallow shooter you got as a Secret Santa gift probably won’t still be on your desk whenever you decide to make a special guest appearance at your workplace.
With no Kate Middleton engagements to report on and space to fill, media outlets have been rehashing Joanne Froggatt’s appearance on Conan during which the actress revealed she had made an “accidental sex pun” to Kate Middleton when she visited the Downton Abbey set on March 12, 2015. Joanne Froggatt recounted that Kate had said, “It feels strange. Being in your bedroom.” to which the actress responded, “Yeah, not many people get to come in Lady Mary’s bedroom.”
Kate Middleton’s tour of the Downton Abbey set counted as one of her 62 engagements in 2015. When Kate “popped in”, Downton Abbey was already shooting its final season so there really wasn’t much of a point to Kate’s visit other than getting to tour the set of one of her favorite shows. It certainly didn’t seem to have any effect on the show’s ratings. In fact, when the first episode of season six debuted in the UK on September 20, 2015, it was the lowest rated debut in the series run with 7.6 million viewers tuned in, down from the previous year’s 8.43 million. (Source: Deadline). The US season six premiere on January 3rd drew 9.9 million viewers, down from the previous year’s 10.1 million. (Source: Variety).
And why would Kate’s visit have any effect? Would anyone suddenly start watching the tail end of a show just because Kate Middleton walked around the set, saw costumes being made and watched a scene being shot? Would mainstream critics suddenly be swayed by the show’s quality because a woman who waited almost a decade for a man to marry her met the show’s cast?
Kate was positively beaming during the tour as photos featured in the Telegraph revealed, showing the kind of interest normally absent from events when she has to pretend to care about sick kids or art or being a representative of the UK:
Eight days prior to Kate’s Downton Abbey visit, Sophie, Countess of Wessex toured the set with Angelica Rivera, the First Lady of Mexico. Sophie’s hosting duties did not count as an official engagement and yet Kate’s did.
So not only did Kate’s set tour count as work, her desire to visit the set of one of her favorite shows wound up costing the taxpayer quite a bit in undisclosed security costs. As Joanne Froggatt revealed on Conan, “But — and obviously there’s a lot of security that comes with it as well. She’s royalty. The days before we have the police around, sniffing dogs. It feels like a huge event.”
Note that Joanne Froggatt indicated “the days before“. Securing a set is a massive endeavor. There are the cameras, audio equipment, lighting, monitors, the sets, prop storage rooms, hair and make-up departments, wardrobe for every character, etc. The taxpayers footed the bill for days of security teams doing sweeps, bomb sniffing dogs, and most likely background checks by Scotland Yard on each and every cast and crew member affiliated with the show.
Joanne Froggatt may have made an accidental sex pun that day, but Kate managed to screw over the taxpayers twice. And it looks like she’s starting this year off just like the others, with much ado about nothing.
At this point, Kate has cried “keen” far too many times. If she ever does decide to do the job she accepted on April 29, 2011, no one will actually believe it.