All of us hoped that we could save the discussion about the future monarchy for the time of the next monarch. The Queen may still be with us but this year might see the queen and her 70-year reign without any contention. In which we could commemorate Prince Philip at today’s service without the shadow of controversy.

But, no. After the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s tour of the Caribbean, republican fervour has been re-invigorated, accompanied by no end of wiseacre suggestions to the next royal generations about how they should be doing the job.

No matter that the royal couple were doing the sort of thing which constitutional monarchs have done for decades — waving, shaking hands, making a few dull speeches and then hopping back on the plane, having cheered up more people than they annoyed.

At the conclusion of the trip internet trolls could be heard singing and royal commentators shaking in their heads.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip waving from the back of an open Land Rover during a visit to Kingston in Jamaica in November 1953

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge invoked the spirit of the Queen and Prince Philip on their royal tour in Kingston, Jamaica

Nostalgia – The Queen and Philip, Jamaica 1953. (right) William & Kate, last week.

This is why Prince William decided that things must change. He wants to modernise the monarchy, make it more ‘agile’ — and end the age-old royal policy of ‘never complain, never explain’.

The tour is difficult and it’s a sensible, as well as sympathetic, response. It is however, also hopelessly misguided.

William’s grandmother has been such a successful monarch precisely because she never complains and never explains. Prince Charles is the opposite. He complains much and demands that we know all his views about everything, which alienates nearly as many people.

It was Charles who once said: ‘It is no fun having your head shot off all the time.’

Yet his critics only took pot shots because he used his position as heir to the throne to impose his views — whether on organic farming, architecture or homeopathy.

In 2010, Charles wrote a book called Harmony, and urged us all to embrace a ‘revolution’ in man’s attitude towards the natural environment. ‘That’s what motivates me,’ he said in an accompanying TV series. ‘I can only somehow imagine that I find myself being born into this position for a purpose.’

He was actually born to his constitutional headship without any known opinions on controversial topics.

As with old-fashioned children and royalty, it is important to see them, not just hear. Although we must see William and Kate, it is important that they practice reticence. We don’t need them to share our feelings or even their views on slavery.

A palace source stressed that William is not being critical of the Queen in his endeavour to change the monarchy: ‘He admires her absolutely and has learnt so much from her. But he is looking ahead to see how things will be in 40 years’ time.’

None of us knows what will happen in a year’s time, let alone 40! But we can be certain — as long as the monarchy is still in existence — that the critics and republicans will still be with us, and that if William keeps sharing his preoccupations and agonies, he will only make things worse for himself.

Prince Philip (pictured) was known for regularly putting his foot in his mouth, but never felt the need to explain his behaviour writes A.N. Wilson

Prince Philip (pictured) is known for repeatedly putting his foot into his mouth. But, A.N. never found the need to address his actions. Wilson

The really hard lesson of speaking without words is something he must learn. Silence is the best teacher. The Duke of Edinburgh used to say that he had spent many years practising the science of ‘dontopedalogy’ — opening his mouth and putting his foot in it. But the truth is, Philip never felt he had to explain his behaviour, and there is a deep irony in the fact that William’s statement came on the eve of his grandfather’s memorial service.

Philip was born in 1897, which is to say that he lived the majority of his life prior the internet. For William and Kate to feel they should ‘explain’ things every time they are criticised is to invite the trolls to tear them to shreds.

Although they are not in the best of circumstances, it is clear that their situation is difficult. The media’s reaction to their tour will be shocking to them and they want to rectify the situation.

Many people in similar situations might feel tempted to avoid the spotlight for a time. This strategy may be suggested by some advisers. You can easily see the criticisms’ reaction to such behaviour.

On their royal tour of the Caribbean the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge did not shy away from addressing issues like protests or the future relationship the monarchy would have with countries in the Commonwealth

While on their Royal Caribbean Tour, the Duke and Duchess Of Cambridge addressed issues like protests and the future relationship of the monarchy to countries within the Commonwealth.

Suppose William and Kate took the view that it would be better to do some of their charitable work behind the scenes, and to restrict their royal duties to a few ceremonial appearances each year — at Trooping the Colour, or the Laying of Wreaths at the Cenotaph. If that happened, there would be a growing murmur of protest: ‘What do they think these over-privileged people are doing, hiding away in their grand houses, and not doing what we pay them for?’

They cannot decrease their public presence. This means that they have to continue their public appearances.

They don’t have to whinge or explain. As Robert Hardman wrote yesterday in the Mail, the Queen has endured worse tours in her long reign than William and Kate’s in the Caribbean. In New Zealand in 1986, she and Prince Philip were pelted with eggs and mooned at – imagine what today’s trolls would have made of that.

The Queen was hit on the hip with an egg as she toured a gathering of 42,000 schoolchildren in Auckland in 1986

The Queen was hit on the hip with an egg as she toured a gathering of 42,000 schoolchildren in Auckland in 1986

The service will gave thanks for the duke’s dedication to family, nation and Commonwealth and recognise his legacy in creating opportunities for young people, promoting conservation and supporting the Armed Forces

The service will gave thanks for the duke’s dedication to family, nation and Commonwealth and recognise his legacy in creating opportunities for young people, promoting conservation and supporting the Armed Forces

Her Majesty never felt the need to share with the rest of the world her feelings about the protests. Like always, she kept her thoughts private. She is a master at keeping her secrets throughout this long period. Perhaps even her women-in-waiting as well as her children don’t know what her thoughts are on many issues.

There have been times she has publicly responded to criticism. Most recently, perhaps, in her ‘recollections may vary’ comment following Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey. These interventions, however, are rare and distant and always measured.

By contrast William’s statement, issued almost before the couple had left the Caribbean, looks hot-headed. What other public grievances does he have to address? Given the torrent that pours from his brother’s home in Montecito, there may be no limit.

Let’s hope William grows into his role. He and Kate, except for misreading them, are clearly well-meaning and decent individuals. They have the intelligence to take lessons from others and figure out how to be monarchs in an antimonarchical age.

For every incident when they seem to have blundered, there will be dozens when their turning up at a school, hospital or sporting event will have boosted everyone they met — and reminded us how much worse any alternative would be.

This is the monarchy’s strongest card. Imagine a president. Think of the kind of person we’d get. Ask yourself, if you were a member of the England rugby team, whether you’d rather be visited by Kate in a tracksuit, with her radiant smile, or a has-been politician?

What would make you more cheerful if you were an infirm child? To hold Prince William’s hand? Or to look into the eyes of President Blair?

That’s a thought that will encourage us all to start singing God Save the King.