I debated whether to write on this subject because I’ll have to make a confession. But it’s not a bad one. Its just that the Harry and Meghan saga of late has me in its vice like no other boiling-over pot of high octane melodrama. This is it, folks. You don’t find many dramatic stories as perfectly Shakespearean as those that have beset England’s House of Windsor over the decades and ages, and the last couple of weeks in particular.
My interest in the British royal family and their once far flung empire is rather readily explainable. In my teen years I was an avid collector of stamps of the British Empire and its colonies. There were still many of them in the 1960s. Islands in the Pacific such as the Solomons, and even the remotest islands in Earth — Pitcairn Island and Tristan da Cunha. There were the colonies in central America such as British Honduras, as well as in Africa (Rhodesia, Swaziland) and Asia (Borneo). All these stamps had portraits of Queen Elizabeth II on them. In my imagination I experienced places all over the world through stamp collecting, and I was a bit in awe of the queen. That fascination with British colonies and royalty has continued down through the decades until now. Thus, I feel almost compelled to follow all the goings on of the British royal family. It’s a guilty pleasure and arguably a waste of time, but with all things comprised of such high human drama and foibles, it’s a learning experience and a huge cut above run-of-the mill celebrity gossip.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Oprah was downright incendiary. After all, despite centuries of tradition, magnificent palaces, uniforms, crowns, jewelry, pageantry of the highest order, and a family utterly steeped in tradition and protocols, the Windsors are just a family after all, right? They hurt like any other family if they feel betrayed and all they stand for is threatened. Strip away all the glitter, pomp, and pageantry and what’s left? So what if Queen Elizabeth has 400 emoloyees at Buckinghdm Palace. My guess is she has a nice recliner chair in a cozy little den somewhere in that huge house.
What’s so fateful about Harry and Meghan is that they feared the same outcome for their lives as Harry Mother, the late Princess Diana, who was hounded by the tabloid press until her tragic death in an automobile accident 23 years ago. Rather than see themselves repeating history, the couple decided to free themselves from what had become a royal prison. They are now established on a $15 million Southern California estate, and can pursue their own lives. But at a huge price, it turns out, as the couple’s recent interview with Oprah reveals.
Harry always was the rebellious one, compared to his brother William, heir to the throne after Prince Charles. All the upper echelon of the royal family subscribes to utter fealty to duty to the crown, making countless appearances in the UK and, before Covid, around the world. They support countless charities and causes.
They do a lot of good.
But times are changing and maintaining a monarchy is expensive. The institution is embedded in the history and culture of the UK. But many say it is racist, class-ridden, archaic, and has to go. I can eventually see Buckingham Palace becoming a huge museum tourist destination much like that ultimate extravagance, the Palace of Versailles in France.
Polling indicates the public in the UK favors the royal family, while in the U.S. Harry and Meagan have more sympathy. In England, the aristocrats are calling Meagan not only a gold digger, but a malignant narcissist as well.
This deeply human story is really better than any made-up soap opera. You have brother against brother and two strong sisters-in-law supposedly going at it. A father who wont return his son’s calls. An imperious sister who’s above the fray and who reportedly disliked Diana very much. A notorious brother, Prince Andrew. A 99-year-old grandfather in the hospital. A wicked sister-in-law. And the sovereign, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, who must preside over this sorry mess.
What oh what wiIl become of Harry? Did he marry for love above all else, or was he snookered by a Hollywood actress who now hates the limelight after she has given her story to Oprah who obviously sympathizes greatly with Meghan. Time heals most wounds, doesn’t it?
I found this British socialite, author of two books on Princess Diana, and soon-to-be YouTube sensation, highly amusing and quite intelligent, utterly cynical and yet quite convincing as I watched her detailed reaction to the Oprah interview. She is the perfect spokeswoman for the old aristocracy circling the wagons and defending the monarchy above all else. She has given Meghan at least 100 lashings on the back in this video.
It really is a complex story. There are two opposing sides — those who despise her passionately, and those who defend her just as passionately. The more I learn about this story, the less sure I am about whether Meghan is villain or victim.