It was bound to happen: Harry and Meghan were going to shake up the royal family.
And I would revive the blog to write about it.
A quick primer: After a brief honeymoon period in which the press gushed over Meghan Markle, the British tabloids quickly remembered that happy endings don’t sell papers.
She went from the glamorous modern actress charming Prince Harry to the vulgar social climbing divorcée who’d turned him against his family.
Grace Kelly to Wallis Simpson in less than a year.
Prince Harry has never let the press off the hook for their role in his mother Princess Diana’s death, nor the misery they caused her in life. Nor has he turned a blind eye to their treatment of his wife—lambasting her for breaks in protocol including shutting her own car door, wearing off the shoulder gowns, signing autographs, and crossing her legs incorrectly (not failing to cross her legs, mind you, but crossing them incorrectly.)
Her greatest sin is subjecting the world to the horror of a white royal prince marrying a mixed-race woman. The giddy headlines alluding to such are the work of small and nasty minds.
So is it any wonder Meghan and Harry have announced they are stepping back from their royal duties?
Much of the conversation thus far has focused on the “have their cake and eat it too” aspect of this process. Harry is not (yet) abdicating his title, which would mean giving up this claim to the throne and all the financial benefits of royalty. He and Meghan have proclaimed their desire to become financially independent, but plan to continue living in the Queen’s Frogmore Cottage that has just undergone a $3 million dollar taxpayer-funded renovation. They will only talk to media of their choosing, but will likely still receive the bulk of their money from Prince Charles, and therefore from the British taxpayer.
Breaking up, it seems, is hard to do.
Obsessing over the money is to focus on the least interesting part of the story. (Although it is true that as an American, my wallet remains intact either way.)
This is a story of family versus country.
For truly, who can blame Harry for wanting to shield his wife and son from a parasitic press, an entitled public, and an internet full of vicious trolls? Who can blame him for trying to maintain ties, however strained, with his brother, father, and grandmother?
Harry is putting his role as a husband and father first. He’s a romantic hero. The king of men.
(Speaking of the king of men, do you think Jamie Fraser would’ve let the press treat Claire this way? I rest my case.)
But he isn’t just a man, is he? He’s a royal.
And a royal puts his country and the royal brand first—before his own personal family, and certainly before his personal happiness.
At least, that’s what his grandmother thinks.
When Queen Elizabeth II took the throne, Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn graced the silver screen in The African Queen. Color television was a year away from mass adoption. Married women couldn’t open a checking account or get a credit card without permission from her husband.
Queen Elizabeth II does not speak out on political issues. She has never acted in a way that lead to even a whiff of scandal (her family, of course, is another story.) She has always put her role as Queen front and center.
She would never think of placing her personal happiness—or that of her children—ahead of her duties as Queen.
And she has been universally beloved throughout her nearly seventy-year reign because of it.
I am happy for Harry and Meghan for stepping back from the madness, in whatever form they see fit. He and his brother will reconcile. William will get over it. Charles will too.
The old generation dies out and gives way to the new. This is the way it is, and the way it should be. But I can’t help thinking of the Queen, ninety-three years old and watching the world she spent her entire life shaping and defending crumble beneath her feet.
She won’t get over it. And I don’t think you have to be a queen to understand why.