Rumours of a rivalry between the Duchess of Cambridge and Rose Hanbury are a ...

Prince William bears all the hallmarks of a contented man. At 36, he carries none of the emotional baggage that plagued the life of his father, the Prince of Wales, for so many years.

Since leaving his job as an RAF and then air ambulance rescue pilot, he has become a popular and hugely respected working member of the Royal Family.

This hold on public affection is in no small part thanks to the charm of his three young children and the happiness he has found with wife Kate. 

Yesterday William was determined to act as extraordinary rumours engulfed his family, threatening to disrupt their domestic tranquillity. Reports emerged in both the Saturday and Sunday newspapers which claimed a ‘rift’ had opened up between Kate and her Norfolk neighbour Rose Hanbury, Marchioness of Cholmondeley (left)

Yesterday William was determined to act as extraordinary rumours engulfed his family, threatening to disrupt their domestic tranquillity. Reports emerged in both the Saturday and Sunday newspapers which claimed a ‘rift’ had opened up between Kate and her Norfolk neighbour Rose Hanbury, Marchioness of Cholmondeley (left)

Which was why yesterday William was determined to act as extraordinary rumours engulfed his family, threatening to disrupt their domestic tranquillity. 

Over the weekend, reports emerged in both the Saturday and Sunday newspapers which claimed a ‘rift’ had opened up between Kate and her Norfolk neighbour Rose Hanbury, Marchioness of Cholmondeley.

One account said the two women had had a ‘terrible’ falling out; another suggested that Kate wanted her ‘rural rival’ banished from their circle, though the words actually used were ‘phased out.’

William, meanwhile, was being painted as a peacemaker who, because of his own friendship with Rose’s aristocratic husband, David (the Marquess of) Cholmondeley, wants the two women to get along.

At a time when we are being besieged on all sides by endless gloom about Brexit and Britain’s place in the world, tittle tattle about the royals might seem diverting enough.

But the weekend reports have gone beyond mere gossip (although tittle tattle can itself do damage, reducing the royals to a soap opera).

One account said the two women had had a ‘terrible’ falling out; another suggested that Kate wanted her ‘rural rival’ banished from their circle, though the words actually used were ‘phased out'

One account said the two women had had a ‘terrible’ falling out; another suggested that Kate wanted her ‘rural rival’ banished from their circle, though the words actually used were ‘phased out'

They are presented under serious headlines and, if nothing else, will be grist to the mill for the cause of republicanism, bringing a glow to the hearts of anti-monarchists everywhere.

For the royals, dealing with such rumours has long been a delicate conundrum. Ignore them and the risk is that they will be amplified, but by speaking out there is danger of somehow giving legitimacy to what, as we shall see, is almost certainly nothing more than scuttlebutt.

Princess Diana spent much of the last five years of her life firefighting endless speculative stories about her, often with little success. Ever since meeting Kate Middleton at St Andrews University, Prince William has been determined not to follow in his late mother’s footsteps.

Instead, he has resorted to the law to defend both his family’s privacy — such as when French photographers obtained pictures of Kate sunbathing — and when their reputation is endangered. Inconsequential reports are simply disregarded.

But in which category do the weekend stories sit, and how is William responding?

I am told the rumours of a falling out between these two attractive young women are false. I can also reveal both sides have considered legal action but, because none of the reports have been able to offer any evidence about what the so-called dispute is about, they have chosen to ignore it.

In 2014 William and Kate decided to move full time to Anmer Hall, the country house close to Sandringham that was given to them by the Queen

In 2014 William and Kate decided to move full time to Anmer Hall, the country house close to Sandringham that was given to them by the Queen

In fact, gossip started doing the rounds at smart dinner parties late last year. Quite why is still a mystery, but there have been some malevolent undertones to it.

There has been talk that the rumours were got up to damage Kate. So what is going on?

Geography plays a part here. In 2014 William and Kate decided to move full time to Anmer Hall, the country house close to Sandringham that was given to them by the Queen.

Among their near neighbours was the Marquess of Cholmondeley, 58, who as Lord Great Chamberlain had a unique role at the State Opening of Parliament — walking backwards in front of the Queen. 

An aesthete and former filmmaker, Cholmondeley had a string of glamorous girlfriends without showing any sign of wanting to settle down. Then, to the surprise of friends, in 2009 he married Rose Hanbury, a willowy ex-model, 23 years his junior.

They had met at a party at the Villa Cetinale, the grand Italian home of the disgraced Tory peer Lord Lambton — Rose’s sister, Marina, is married to Lambton’s heir Ned, the Earl of Durham.

Among their near neighbours was the Marquess of Cholmondeley, 58, who as Lord Great Chamberlain had a unique role at the State Opening of Parliament (pictured in 2007)— walking backwards in front of the Queen

Among their near neighbours was the Marquess of Cholmondeley, 58, who as Lord Great Chamberlain had a unique role at the State Opening of Parliament (pictured in 2007)— walking backwards in front of the Queen

The comely sisters, who were once pictured in swimsuits with former prime minister Tony Blair have an impeccable pedigree. Their grandmother was Lady Elizabeth Longman, a bridesmaid

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