Friday, March 12, 2021

Meghan, Harry & The Crown

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Like millions of people in North America and Britain, I watched the recent Oprah Winfrey interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. When the couple married almost three years ago, my husband and I happened to be in the UK on vacation. We visited the church at Windsor Castle, where the wedding would take place and watched the preparations underway. On May 19, 2018, the day of the event, we took a train from the Lake District to Edinburgh. At the decorated train station, a woman set up a festive table with afternoon tea for sale.  

Meghan and Harry’s honeymoon with the press and public deteriorated quickly after that, as did their relationships with people in the royal family. A year ago they gave up their duties as senior royals and moved to Canada, a Commonwealth nation where Meghan had lived and worked as an actress. When the UK and Canada refused to pay for their long-term security, they settled in California with plans to pursue non-regal ventures. In their interview with Oprah, they said that unfair and hurtful treatment by members of the royal family, the palace establishment and the British media forced them to take these steps. 

Everyone I know, including me, has watched the Netflix series The Crown, which chronicles the life of Queen Elizabeth II from girlhood to recent times. A theme I take from the series is that the personal lives of royal family members come second to protecting and preserving the institution of The Crown. In the Oprah interview, Harry said that all of his relatives are trapped in their royal roles. The Netflix show suggested the Queen might have been happier living a simple life in the countryside with her horses and dogs. But then she wouldn’t have fame, fortune and a place in history. Many would choose the trap. 

The media loves drama. It sells newspapers and gets people to watch shows like the “bombshell” and “explosive” Oprah interview. The UK tabloids exploited and maybe created the Meghan vs Kate conflict. This narrative serves The Crown if  Kate generally comes across better, since she’s a future queen. Harry told Oprah that the royal family needs positive coverage by the press. The monarchy isn’t secure forever and the country has many anti-royalists. While the Queen is beloved, her successor Prince Charles isn’t. But Will and Kate look on track to replacing the Queen in people’s hearts. They also have three children ahead of Harry in the line of succession. Harry's drop to the # 6 spot makes him less important to The Crown. That's why their son wasn't made a prince and perhaps why the palace made little effort to protect Meghan from media criticism and lies, as she said in the Oprah interview. 

Both Harry and Meghan made a point of telling Oprah they still get along well with his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth. Harry followed up the interview by making it clear that the Queen and Prince Philip weren’t the unnamed royals who made racist remarks that were arguably the interview’s biggest bombshell revelation. This shows that the young couple's intentions haven't strayed completely away from their prime roles as members of the royal family—to protect and preserve the person who embodies The Crown. 


Me with Harry and Meghan in Windsor, UK, May 2018


  1. I believe this conflict is very revealing of culture differences. While the US strives to improve individual freedom and equality, the British aristocracy struggles to hold on to the old values and traditions of the crown... and that includes its prejudices. I, for one, salute Meghan for having the courage to shake up the tree. In such a public arena. I also salute Harry for supporting her unconditionally. In literature, this would be a true romance with a happy ending. They do not need the crown. They only need each other. As a writer who includes a little bit of romance in each books, I love that.

  2. Hopefully they will have their happy ending. It's hard to be estranged from family.

  3. Our wonderful US 2021 Inauguration Poet Amanda Gorman had an interesting thought: "Unclear if this will change the Royal family, but Meghan's strength will certainly redefine family everywhere. Think of the women who will be inspired to stand up for their lives, the partners who will be kinder & more courageous than the kin they were born into."

    It seems to me that the Royals missed a grand opportunity.

    I am a republican, but even my son who lived for 5 years in London and is a royalist observed: "Making the statement "My family isn't racist" shows that you have some dangerous blindspots."

    1. It's probably natural to defend your family, though.

  4. I find this shows people as they are. Courage is a hard thing to understand

  5. Oh dear! I am English born and bred and a Royalist, although not an ardent one. I am also old enough to have lived through the history covered in most of the episodes of The Crown, and had parents who talked about Royal histories, personal and constitutional, that happened before and during the war. I have a daughter who is a mental health specialist. I also have a mixed race granddaughter. All of these things give me a very different perspective from the very one sided point of view that was screened in the Oprah interview. I agree a lot of the conflict is about culture differences. I also agree that the Royal family as well as Meghan and Harry themselves have all missed a grand opportunity. I also agree that everybody loves the Queen. But that is where I stop other than to say that very little of The Crown was close to being factual so should not be considered in any way a picture of how the British Royal family live. It should also be noted that they, too, receive vast amounts of negative media coverage but, unlike Meghan, cannot rebut it. There are 2 sides to every story and because many members of the British public are aware of a number of discrepancies in the interview I am afraid Meghan and Harry have not come out of it very well. Their popularity has dived and none of this has anything to do with race or mental health. The most common comment is that what has happened is very, very sad. We have lost our most popular prince and all the goodwill and love that was given on their wedding day has somehow been thrown back in our faces. I could say more but this is not the place and it would take too long. Just know that Prince Charles is not unpopular (despite the media coverage) and it is important to separate Press coverage from the social media trolls, of whom there are many, and lurid clickbait headlines from the actual content of the story covered. Also little Archie not being made a prince is due to a Constitutional Patent set in 1917 by King George V and has absolutely nothing to do with his race or parentage. When the Queen dies and Charles ascends the throne Archie would have the right to the title of Prince because he would then be a grandchild of the monarch, not a great-grandchild. Prince George and his siblings only have the title because they are in direct line to the throne. It should also be noted that a number of the queen's grandchildren have eschewed a title, so he is far from alone, plus he can use the courtesy title of Earl of Dumbarton if he so wishes.

    1. Thanks for your long balanced/balancing commentary-

  6. I agree this was a missed opportunity. Meghan and Harry could have been fresh air within the royal family. They both said the family initially accepted her well, much better than Harry had expected, and this came across during the wedding. I can see that later, as problems developed, Harry would worry that if he and Meghan didn't leave the UK she'd become another Diana, probably his worst nightmare.

  7. No matter the circumstance, I wish Harry and Meghan peace and happiness.


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