What is it with the British and being desperate to leave reasonably successful, if controversial, institutions?
“The Royal Family are said to be “hurt” at the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s announcement they will step back as senior royals.
Prince Harry and Meghan did not consult any senior royal about making the statement, it is understood.
Buckingham Palace was “blindsided”, said BBC royal correspondent Jonny Dymond, as talks about their future had begun but were in very early stages.
The Palace said there were “complicated issues” to work through.”
(Everything else aside, isn’t “Jonny Dymond” the perfect name for a Royal Correspondent? Great work by BBC human resources there).
It’s an objectively bizarre decision. Look, there are a lot of negative things about being a senior member of the British Royal family. Press scrutiny galore, constant tabloid gossiping, and, of course, a constant flow of public engagements and events. It’s not the sit-on-your-ass-and-be-handed-everything job that some Republicans like to pretend that it is. That said, it’s not a bad job either. You don’t have to worry about money, and if you are civic minded, then you have the very real opportunity to do a lot of good. Remember the work Harry’s late mother did on banning landmines, for example? A cause chosen well can be perfect for a Royal.
The life they’re choosing, on the other hand, is much harder. Being a Royal outside the Royal family is a thoroughly miserable experience, as anyone who’s seen it tried can testify. Sarah Ferguson hasn’t exactly prospered in terms of image or happiness since she packed in her HRH and headed off to America to become a part time pundit on her relatives.
The problem with celebrity is that the public will generally only respect people who are famous for doing something. You might dispute that, but think about it: Genuine a-listers tend to be people who are known for adding some value to something or other – major actors, or sportsmen, or authors, or directors. People who are famous, on the other hand, for being someone? Doesn’t work so well. In that category you can put people like the children of celebrities, or Instagram influencers, or party girls like Harry’s old pal, the late Tara Palmer Tomkinson.
One of the great benefits the Royal Family provides to its members is the way it shields them from press coverage, and keeps their interviews to a minimum. We so very rarely hear from Charles or William that when we do, it’s interesting. All signs point, though, to the Prince of Wales actually being a very boring man who is mainly interested in growing organic cabbages and beets. Which is a perfectly great thing to do, but too many interviews with him on the subject and the public might start to think their future King wasn’t quite the anointed and blessed leader they’ve been lead to believe.
It appears, from their website, to be the intention of Harry and Meghan to become much more accessible to the press, and to do much more talking. They’ve also indicated their intention to “become financially independent”. You don’t have to be a genius to read between the lines there – it’s almost a pity that they married already, because if they hadn’t, you can be sure that Hello! Magazine would be announcing a £2million deal for the exclusive photos tomorrow. Maybe they can renew their vows somewhere glamourous like the Caribbean in a year or two.
In the meantime, we can probably expect lots of red carpet appearances in America, with the Duke of Sussex and his wife sidling up to entertainment reporters to tell them about how very happy they are to be there, and how important it is to support the great work of whatever celebrity is hosting them on that particular night.
It’s not sustainable though. The magic, if it exists, of Royalty comes directly from the remoteness of Royalty. Harry’s Grandmother has made it through 68 years on the throne without ever, even once, having given an interview to anyone. We hear from her directly once a year, on Christmas day, and very occasionally if somebody dies. Other than that, she’s completely silent. It’s that absence of talking that makes her interesting. If she started blabbering on about horses and corgis every other day, we’d get bored of her quite quickly. Neither her grandson, nor his American actress wife, seem to have copped on to that.
We can never know what precipitated this particular move, of course, but it seems at best a thoughtless way to treat the rest of his family, at a human level. Whatever’s gone wrong at the heart of the Windsor dynasty, we can at least say that there appears to have been a very big row indeed.
Harry’s been in that family long enough though, that he should know one thing: The house never loses.