SARAH VINE: The secret to William's success at 40? His marriage…

SARAH VINE: The secret to William’s success at 40? It’s his marriage…

Funny old age, 40. Not quite old, not quite young, a time when things are coming at you from all sides. Children still small, parents getting creaky, career responsibilities ramping up. That first wrinkle, that odd, more frequent twinge in your back or knee, never quite enough hours in the day or, more importantly, hours in the night for some well-earned shut-eye.

As Prince William prepares to celebrate his 40th on Tuesday surrounded by family and friends and with the triumphant strains of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations still echoing in his ears, it’s a moment to stop and reflect. Not just for him personally, but for us as a nation.

Because very soon, sooner than any of us would want, he will be the Prince of Wales, in charge of a billion-pound business empire (the Duchy of Cornwall) and required to carry out far more Royal duties, including trips abroad.

More time away from the children, less time for his wife, more public exposure. And on the ever-moving conveyor belt of life, he will find himself edging ever closer to that moment where, ultimately, he replaces his father as King.

In that respect, of course, William’s situation is unique, but in many other ways he’s just like the rest of us. My 40s were easily the hardest decade of my life, punctuated by periodic bouts of ill health and depression, brought about in no small part by the pressures of the life I was living.

As an indicator of how bad things were, my son (now 17) said to me only the other day that when he was seven or eight he used to think it was just normal to have a mother who was exhausted, or ill, and in hospital all the time.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during day four of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on Friday

I don’t think my experience was unique: I know a lot of people who struggled during their 40s, worn down by the weight of responsibility and worry. Psychologically too it can be a tough decade.

I’m sure William, with all his awareness of mental health issues, understands this.

Nevertheless, it can be hard to apply that awareness to yourself. I suppose what I’m trying to say here is, he needs to remember to put his own oxygen mask on first. The pressure is particularly acute for William because of the appalling way his brother has behaved. Even if the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had moved to America and remained on the best of terms with the family back home, Prince William would still have felt the added responsibility of filling the gap left behind.

As it is, Harry has not only dumped his own Royal responsibilities at William’s feet, he’s also kicked him repeatedly in the teeth for his troubles.

And yet, despite his brother’s brattish betrayal, William must still act like the adult in the relationship. That can’t be easy.

And so, surrounded by weapons-grade narcissists (not just the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, but now Prince Andrew too), William has had no choice but to step up, to be the rock of the family, the one safe pair of hands, the person who does the right thing when everyone else is busy slamming doors and flouncing off home on their private jets.

The fact that he seems to manage it with such charm, good grace and, frankly, sanity is a trait he shares with his grandmother. And, like the Queen, a large part of his success stems from his wise decision to marry the right person for the job. The Queen could hardly have chosen a better companion to guide her through 70 years of service than the Duke of Edinburgh. The Duchess of Cambridge, it seems to me, occupies a similar place in the psyche of the Royals.

Was the Duchess of Cambridge really referencing Princess Diana with her high-necked polka-dot Ascot dress by London designer Alessandra Rich? 

Unlike his brother Harry, who chose someone who, instead of soothing the undeniable trauma of his upbringing only added to it with her own layers of drama, William married a woman who, for him at least, appears to be balm for the soul.

He clearly understands this, which is why he goes out of his way to protect her and his young family in any way he can, and why he always makes time for the two of them. And that is good, because when your job is as mad as his is, it’s important to pay your dues to the one who keeps you sane.

I hope they can enjoy this moment together, safe in the knowledge that whatever challenges lie ahead, their contribution – and their sacrifice – is not only understood by many, but also greatly appreciated.

Kate’s in her prime

Was the Duchess of Cambridge really referencing Princess Diana with her high-necked polka-dot Ascot dress by London designer Alessandra Rich? 

Maybe – although I suspect that unlike some Royal watchers, she doesn’t have an archive of all her mother-in-law’s outfits readily to hand. Nevertheless, she looked stunning. 

No one does vintage elegance like the Duchess, somehow managing to be both demure and disturbingly hot. 

It was the same with that lemon-yellow dress she wore for the Jubilee Service at St Paul’s, and the fuchsia Stella McCartney number at the pageant. 

This is a woman in her prime who knows exactly what suits her, and how to wear it. 

Abuse of Priti Patel is real sexism

Why is it that whenever anyone says anything even vaguely disobliging about a Labour woman (eg Angela Rayner) the whole world goes tonto, and yet you can compare a Conservative woman to a sadistic witch and no one seems to bat an eyelid? 

Priti Patel may not be everyone’s cup of tea politically, but she does not deserve to be compared with Dolores Umbridge (from Harry Potter), or subject to half the abuse she receives online. 

Priti Patel may not be everyone’s cup of tea politically, but she does not deserve to be compared with Dolores Umbridge

Could it be that, for all their bluster, there are far more misogynists among the ranks of Labour supporters than Tories? 

Or is it just that any woman who is a Tory – and especially a woman from an ethnic minority who’s a Tory – is considered Untermensch by a party that still believes it has a monopoly on voters from certain backgrounds? 

Forget Rwanda: if that’s not racism (not to mention sexism), I don’t know what is.

I must confess I was starting to worry whether Kate Moss – aged 48 and having enjoyed a lively lifestyle in her time – might not be some sort of supernatural being. 

So I was rather relieved to see that she too suffers from the bane of the middle-aged smoker: the dreaded upper lip ‘barcode’. 

No doubt she’ll have endless experts queuing up to rid her of the affliction. But in the meantime, it’s nice to know supermodels are human too.

Banning Jennifer Lopez from using the symbol for women is as idiotic and insulting as insisting a 60-year-old man state whether he’s pregnant or not before he can donate blood. 

This is what happened to Leslie Sinclair, from Stirling in Scotland. Unsurprisingly, he refused – and was turned away from his local blood clinic. 

I don’t know what’s more stupid: the idea of a 60-year-old being pregnant… or of that person having a penis.

I can’t tell whether the demise of Revlon – maker of the Queen’s favourite lipstick, Elizabeth Arden’s ‘Bold Red’ – spells the end of the road for the brand that created the first red nail polish in 1937 or a brilliant opportunity to reinvent itself. 

After all, there’s nothing the internet loves more than a vintage trend, and it would only take a few social media ‘influencers’ to turn something no one under 25 has heard of into a raging success story. Just look at chart-topper Kate Bush. 

Musician Kate Bush performing live in 1978. She returned to the top of the charts this week

If even the head of the World Health Organisation now believes that Covid was leaked from a lab in Wuhan, it’s fairly safe to assume it was leaked from a lab in Wuhan. The real question is: what is the world going to do about it? 

Or are we just going to keep buying cheap goods from China, propping up a despotic, genocidal regime and pretend nothing has happened? 

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