If you haven’t been productive this week while gluing yourself to Twitter or The Daily Mail watching the drama unfold in the aftermath of Meghan and Harry’s bombshell Instagram announcement, you’re not alone.
The only story being talked and texted about in the United Kingdom is the shocking news that the duke and duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan, want to “step back” from their official royal duties, “carve out a progressive new role” in a most intransigent institution, the British monarchy, and become “financially independent” from the state’s coffers.
Every talk show, radio host, and journalist in the British press has written or tweeted on this. No one can remain silent. All the front pages of the major British newspapers have had it as their headline for the last several days: “Harry Up and Go,” “Megxit,” “Queen Calls Family Crisis Meeting,” and “They’re Orf Again!”
Soleimani, who? Brexit, what? Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s European Union Withdrawal Agreement passed a third reading in the House of Commons with a majority of 99 on Thursday. Did anyone notice? Nope.
Nothing has captured the nation like this since the European Union Referendum, but unlike the referendum it has united the country in an almost overwhelming condemnation of how the couple has gone about it. (Of course, apart from the left-wing journalists who are calling all the criticism racist attacks against Meghan.)
This is a cataclysmic event that should not be underestimated. Prince Harry might be sixth in line to the throne, considered a minor royal, but it has huge implications for the future role of the monarchy in the United Kingdom, especially if it continues to be handled poorly.
The reason it is such a big deal is that never has a royal, minor or not, decided to depart from “The Firm” while also staying in it, and in such a public manner without discussing it first with other senior royals and Buckingham Palace. The duke and duchess blindsided the queen, Prince Charles, and Prince William. This is truly unique, and it could determine the relevancy and existence of the monarchy itself.
As the British public is currently saying, Meghan and Harry want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to keep their royal titles and yet have little responsibility for being royal, and on their own terms. Harry and Meghan basically gave Harry’s 93-year-old grandmother, the longest reigning monarch in British history and the most beloved royal of all time, a public ultimatum:
We are leaving, as we can no longer handle the scrutiny. We will still support you and the Commonwealth, but we are also going to be private citizens in North America, where we can make money capitalizing on our royal titles, connections, and now trademarked Sussex Royal on more than 100 items.
We will give up 5 percent of our government income, called the Sovereign Grant; however, before we are able to be completely financially independent (despite having inherited millions from Princess Diana and earning a few million from the TV show “Suits”), we will still be living off Prince Charles and the Duchy of Cornwall, which is only granted to the family thanks to the permission of Parliament, thus still taxpayers’ money.
What a brazen way to force the hand of one’s family! And clearly a planned one, with an immaculate website done by the same Canadian designers for Meghan’s now-defunct blog, The Tig, orchestrated by Hilary Clinton’s former PR guru Sara Latham, and exclusively released to The Sun newspaper.
As it is with most things in life, it’s not the problem or crisis, but how you handle it. The public is quite understanding and sensitive to Prince Harry’s mental health (they watched him walk behind his mother’s coffin at age 12) and Meghan’s transition to royal life. But what the couple has done to the royal family has cost them a lot of goodwill that just two years ago was flowing their way.
Queen Elizabeth does not deserve to be treated this way. As President Trump said, she “has had a flawless time.” She is the epitome of duty to one’s country, and did not have a choice in the matter once her uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated the throne to follow his love for another American divorcee, Wallis Simpson. Such a stark contrast to the duke and duchess of Sussex.
According to a new Daily Mail poll just released, 71 percent of the public think it was wrong for Meghan and Harry to not inform the queen first before releasing their statement. Sixty percent of the respondents said they have treated the queen shoddily, with 72 percent saying the queen should let them go.
And that’s the million-pound question: How should the queen respond to her once-popular prince of a grandson and his starlet wife’s ultimatum?
Should the queen relinquish their titles of duke and duchess of Sussex, so they cannot commercialize on their royalty? It is estimated that they could make hundreds of millions of dollars on their names, surpassing that of the House of Windsor. Meghan is already in talks to launch her own fashion line with Givenchy, and has done a voiceover in a Disney movie.
Or perhaps they should not be allowed to keep the titles His and Her Royal Highness (HRH)? Forty-seven percent, the majority, of Britons polled by the Daily Mail said no, they should not keep HRH. Should Prince Harry be forced to abdicate from the line of succession to pursue a private life? Fifty-four percent polled say that he should.
Should the queen make them pay back British taxpayers for the renovation of Frogmore Cottage to the tune of £2.4 million? Sixty percent of the public say that they should.
Since the news broke, the drums have started to beat from anti-monarchist republicans that there should be a referendum on what the future of the British royal family should look like.
If the royal family cannot decide how to deal with family members who are not in direct line to the throne, and cannot find meaningful employment or purpose without selling their royal celebrity (as with Prince Andrew, Prince Andrew’s daughters, the duchess of York, Prince Edward, and now Prince Harry), the British people will determine it for them. For it is their money after all. May God save the queen.