The first day of Royal Ascot was the Queen's son Prince Edward and his wife's 19th wedding anniversary, but it was Meghan Markle who stole the show
Does anyone know who Prince Edward really is? The Queen's youngest son is not the kind of man to draw attention to himself if he can help it.
So headlines in recent days mocking him as 'Air Miles Eddie' must have caused him considerable discomfort.
Unusually for him, he used a private executive jet as well as a helicopter over two days on public engagements in Dorset and the West Midlands — engagements that he could easily have carried out by road or rail.
The cost to the taxpayer was in the region of £13,000 rather than just a few hundred pounds, giving rise to accusations that he was guilty of 'a blatant abuse of public money'.
What is strange about this is that ever since he was forced to give up a commercial life as a TV producer, he has been extremely careful, as a full-time royal, to do everything by the book — so very different from his demanding brother Prince Andrew. So what has changed?
The theory among courtiers is that the Earl of Wessex fears he and his wife Sophie are in danger of being eclipsed from the excitement of the royal show. He wants to raise their profile.
Tuesday — the opening day of Royal Ascot — was the couple's 19th wedding anniversary.
But it was the glamorous Meghan who inevitably attracted all the attention.
All this came on top of those extraordinary pictures of the newest royal and the Queen in highly animated conversation as they carried out engagements together in Cheshire last week.
Sophie, of course, has been the Queen's favourite family companion for some years.
The theory among courtiers is that the Earl of Wessex fears he and his wife Sophie are in danger of being eclipsed by Meghan (pictured with the Queen). He wants to raise their profile
The former PR girl, now 53, rides out with the Queen at Windsor and also goes carriage driving with her father-in-law Prince Philip, whom she calls 'Papa' (just as Princess Diana did).
'She makes him laugh, which with Philip is half the battle,' says a friend.
On most Sunday afternoons they and their children Louise, 14, and James, ten, have 'five o'clock tea' with the Queen at Windsor Castle, usually in the Oak Room.
These are precious private moments, where the Queen herself pours the tea, and not even the personable Meghan is ever likely to take Sophie's place there.
But, in their official lives, Edward and Sophie, as senior royals, have never enjoyed the same kind of public affection and enthusiasm as the other members of the family.
Indeed, there are several spoof Prince Edward social media accounts which purport to share his homespun royal thoughts, such as: 'Don't you know that feeling in the morning when you are full of energy?! Nah, me neither.'
However, the real Edward, 54, is keen to be taken more seriously, especially as he is expected to be elevated from an earl to a duke and inherit his father's title, the Duke of Edinburgh.
He has been chairman of the board of trustees of the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Foundation for the past three years and travels extensively.
But the fallout of his embarrassing commercial history, and, of course, Sophie's, too, still weighs heavily on them.
Edward's dreams of a life away from the royal ribbon-cutting routine finally ended in 2011 when Ardent Productions, the television production company which the prince set up in 1993 with £300,000 of his own money, was dissolved.
The company's most spectacular achievement was the ignominy and very public criticism it faced in 2001 after it had a crew film on the St Andrews university campus while his nephew Prince William, newly arrived as a student, was there.
This move was an apparent contravention of an agreement with the media to leave the young Prince William alone.
The Duchess of Sussex, 36, is pictured on the first day of Royal Ascot in Berkshire this week
For her part, PR Sophie famously fell foul of a Sunday newspaper sting in 2001 in which she talked about the Royal Family and other prominent people to a potential 'client' who was, in fact, an undercover reporter.
She described the Queen as 'the old dear' and Cherie Blair, the then Prime Minister's wife, as 'absolutely horrid, horrid, horrid'.
She also created a memorable 'royals for hire' storm when, just three months after becoming the Countess of