Richard Kay: Never in memory have the royals had so many troubles at once. If not yet a crisis for the House of Windsor, it’s getting perilously close…

Let’s make one thing clear: Prince Andrew’s arrival at Tuesday’s memorial service in Windsor for Greece’s former King Constantine meant absolutely nothing.

If, for all his sneering self-importance, he had been nominated to lead the royal family for the thanksgiving, he would have arrived last, not first.

It was Queen Camilla – in the King’s absence – who observed that remarkable royal convention of taking her seat after all the others in St. George’s Chapel, just as we saw on numerous occasions with the late Queen Elizabeth.

But as with so much around the royal family, perception is everything. And Andrew’s central presence, alongside his equally radiant ex-wife Fergie, summed up a situation that, while not yet a crisis for the House of Windsor, is coming perilously close to one.

Remember, Andrew is the only prince in modern times – in any time – to have been dismissed. He has been stripped of his military roles and public positions, and his only distinguishing honor, his HRH title, has been suspended. Yet there he was, confusingly at the center.

For many, it was reminiscent of his self-appointed role in which he led his late mother down the aisle of Westminster Abbey for Prince Philip’s memorial service in 2022, a move that irked then-Prince Charles and angered his son William.

But that wasn’t all. And it’s not just about Andreas.

Leading the way: Eyebrows were raised as Prince Andrew walked ahead of other royal mourners at the late King Constantine’s memorial service on Tuesday

Misery: King Charles and Queen Camilla, before his cancer was announced to the nation

Misery: King Charles and Queen Camilla, before his cancer was announced to the nation

Unknown illness: William with Kate, who has undergone abdominal surgery

Unknown illness: William with Kate, who has undergone abdominal surgery

Bad news, as the saying goes, comes in threes. A king battling cancer, a princess stricken with an unknown, debilitating illness and a missing prince with no explanation for his absence have contributed to a feverish and dangerously restless atmosphere.

Why William was unable to attend the memorial service for his godfather – a man with whom he enjoyed a uniquely poignant bond – remains unknown.

But the most cursory glance at the rampant speculation on social media should convince even the most die-hard royal aides that wherever there is a vacuum around a public figure, it will be filled.

And yesterday, adding to this swirl of uncertainty, came the news that Prince Harry had lost his court challenge over his security arrangements during his visit to Britain, confirming his absolute banishment from the life of the royal family – as it was not yet firmly established.

It seems that every day there are more unwelcome reports about the well-being of the royal family, to whom so many millions are looking for reassurance. The tragic and unexpected death of Tom Kingston, the son-in-law of Princess Michael of Kent, has only added to this bleak and uneasy undercurrent.

Nine months later, the glow that hung over the country after the coronation at the prospect of a new reign under King Charles III has disappeared.

And looking at the remains of our first family on display in Windsor this week, it was impossible to escape the conclusion that it has suddenly become a threadbare institution.

Princess Anne, of course, remains a tower of strength. But for all her resilience, she is 73; cheerful, but still an age when most women have long since left the kind of regular working hours she does behind them.

The other working royals visible at their service on Tuesday are even older: the Duke of Gloucester is 79, the increasingly frail Duke of Kent is 88 and his sister, the stylish Princess Alexandra, who was taken to St. George’s in a wheelchair to to be present. is 87. These are – together with Prince Edward and Sophie who were not present at the service – the public faces of the royal family. Through no fault of their own, they are certainly not an inspiring group.

Here was certainly evidence that a downsized monarchy – King Charles’ decades-long dream – is not really fit for purpose.

As for Harry, last week’s claims that he had offered to ‘help’ by taking on some royal duties while his father is treated for cancer appear increasingly hollow.

Losing his High Court challenge to the Home Secretary over his downgraded security status almost certainly means he will not end his self-imposed exile. His claim that he had been treated unfairly in the changes to his police protection was firmly rejected.

Under such circumstances, courtiers do not believe that his vanity would allow him to return to the royal fold.

Aid workers insist it is not a crisis. Not quite. Or as an old courtier muttered yesterday with obvious discomfort: “Not yet.”

Normally, in times like these, officials will offer comforting words of reassurance: such was the case in the dark days of the Diana era and when other domestic matters suddenly erupted and became matters of public trust.

The fact that little was said reinforced the feeling that all is not well within the royal family.

There has been unrest since the King’s cancer diagnosis was revealed, along with the Princess of Wales’ unspecified medical problems. Kate has not been seen since Christmas, and when William pulled out of his godfather’s memorial service – where he was due to give one of the talks – rumors spread that this must be due to his wife’s health.

The palace declined to say whether his absence was related to Kate, although it added that the princess was recovering well. What they weren’t attracted to was what the “personal issue” was that kept him away from Windsor, where he lives, by the way.

Of course, William has every right not to share private and potentially very personal concerns with the media or the public. But the silence has been a gift to conspiracy theorists.

Compare his and Kate’s approach to his father’s. Until this week, Charles has effectively shared bulletins about his treatment with photos of his activities.

There is a compelling argument that the king as head of state is not strictly a private person and that the public has a right to know about any ills, as happens in other democracies such as the US and France.

Many suggest that this should apply equally to the heir to the throne. The taxpayers, who fund the royal family’s privileged lifestyle, are expected to have the right to know not only when the monarchy is doing well, but also when it is not – as is most certainly the case this week is. By saying nothing, they invite speculation.

All in all, we know very little. We don’t know how sick the king is or what cancer he is being treated for. We also have no idea about Kate’s health, aside from an initial statement that she had “planned abdominal surgery.” It is against this backdrop that the stability of the Royal Family, which we have taken for granted throughout all the years of the late Queen’s reign, suddenly appears to be in jeopardy. Never before in modern history have the members of the royal family had so many problems at the same time.

It is highly unusual for a member of the royal family to withdraw from an official event at the last minute. William’s name was in the order of service because he was to give a reading from the Book of Revelations.

And what makes it all the stranger is the very special bond he had with the exiled Constantine, whom he called Tino and who was his second cousin once removed.

Of the many thousands of condolence letters written to William (and Harry) in the aftermath of their mother’s death, one in particular stood out.

It was sent by King Constantine, who had lived in London since he was forced to leave the Greek throne after a coup in 1967. Not only did Tino perfectly describe his godson’s mother and all her many attributes, but he also perfectly summarized her loss for the then fifteen years. birthday William. “It was one of the most moving letters I have received,” I was told. “It was beautifully written and heartbreaking.”

We know that William spoke to Constantijn’s family to explain that he could not attend the memorial on Tuesday. That left Queen Camilla holding down the fort for the largest gathering of the royal family since the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

The ex-king played a unique role in the story of Charles and Camilla. It was at a party at Highgrove – Charles’ home in Gloucestershire – for Tino’s 60th birthday that the late Queen was officially introduced to the then Mrs Parker Bowles, after avoiding her for years.

Given her concerns about Charles and her nervousness on the public stage, Camilla acquitted herself well this week, even if she seemed tired. She may be a reluctant performer, but she has learned quickly and her no-nonsense everydayness has proven to be her greatest asset.

She will be 77 later this year and the question is how long can she keep this up? No Charles, no Kate, no William and no Harry – no wonder Camilla looked tired.

What’s all the more remarkable is that the job of keeping the show going must fall to the very woman who was once seen as a threat to the monarchy – but is now celebrated as its savior.