Uniting for East Africa

0

A moment of synchronicity for the Houses of Windsor and Oldenburg with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge paying a visit to Denmark’s Crown Couple and, thereafter, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary following Queen Elizabeth for a visit to Australia. Shared charitable interests, official duties and a touch of coincidence illustrating that, even with the human population having recently passed the 7 billion mark, the world is a smaller place than we realise, writes Janette Aldace. But also a world with a great deal of suffering and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s visit to Denmark to view the UNICEF facilities was in aid of an urgent humanitarian need – the crisis in East Africa. The announcement that William and Kate were flying to Denmark to bring attention to the work of UNICEF’s work in East Africa also brought speculation that Kate was considering a role with the children’s charity. The rumours were quickly denied and official sources stressed that TRH were trying to focus global attention on the terrible situation in East Africa, to help keep the issue on the international agenda. A palace spokesman said: “The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been deeply moved over the past few weeks by the desperate plight of hundreds of thousands of seriously ill children in East Africa, a part of the world they know well and which is dear to them. “Going to Copenhagen to view the supplies heading out to the famine zones was their idea as they are very troubled by the situation. The British public have already been very generous, but the Royal couple wish to do what they can to help maintain global attention on the worsening situation.” Whilst royal sources confirmed that the visit did not signal an intention by the Duke or Duchess to forge a formal relationship with UNICEF, it did mark another step in their progression to full time royal service and gave a revealing insight into how Kate’s public role will develop. The couple have told aides that they favour a more flexible approach to their charitable work, looking for one-off projects to support rather than taking on lifelong patronages. The crisis in?East Africa is certainly one that demands action. Severe food shortages are affecting more than 13 million people, and currently some 320,000 children are suffering from severe malnutrition and are at imminent risk of death without immediate assistance.

The work of UNICEF is vital and to date the charity has delivered more than 10,000 metric tones of supplies to the region, treated 108,000 severely malnourished children in therapeutic feeding centres, vaccinated 1.2 million children against measles and provided 2.2 million people with access to safe water. As two of the most popular and most recognised royal wives Kate and Mary’s meeting was undoubtedly a bonus in attracting media coverage. How did the two get on and how did they compare in the sartorial stakes? Was it the start of a new friendship? Did Kate take advice from Mary on how to transition from life as a commoner to royal wife and mother? A brief but resonant meeting about which the two ladies wisely kept their own counsel. Upon their arrival in Copenhagen the Duke and Duchess were greeted by the Crown Couple and the foursome enjoyed a lunch at the royal residence, Amalienborg Palace. Later at the UNICEF?facilities the royals received a briefing from charity staff about the situation in East Africa, before touring the supply division floor, where they gave a hand to pack boxes of supplies to send to East Africa, met staff, and viewed displays of items supplied by UNICEF. The royals were also offered a sample of a special high-protein peanut paste which is sent to malnourished children in Africa. William ventured a taste before passing it on to Kate, who declined, and passed it over to Frederik and Mary. Another sign, perhaps, of Kate’s much anticipated pregnancy? Undermining that speculation, no-one tried the tray of muffins made from a corn soya blend!

All were determined to keep the focus on East Africa and William stressed the importance of UNICEF’s work: “I think what has touched me the most is probably the fact there’s an incredible amount being done. UNICEF are leading the way and they are doing a fantastic job. Sadly there is still a lot more to do and that is why we are here today, to try our best to put UNICEF ahead of the system again and get as many people as possible realising the truly horrendous situation going on in East Africa.” Kate added: “I think it was initially a very big story. A lot of people did hear about it, but I think because it has been going on, people have perhaps lost track of this terrible situation. So I think this, hopefully, will put the light back on this crisis.” It also seems likely that William and Kate will be returning to Kenya (where William famously asked Kate for her hand) in the near future. Aid worker Isaac Maina said the Duchess told him she would be returning to Kenya in the near future. Royal sources suggested the trip could take place in the summer of 2012, following the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend.?Around this time William is expected to compete in the Safaricom Marathon on the Lewa Downs in Kenya to raise money for the Tusk Trust, of which he is patron. (Extract from Royalty Magazine Vol. 22/05)