Like the rest of the world, I am still reeling from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s shocking announcement on January 8 that they are distancing themselves from Britain’s royal family. Well, like the rest of the world except for those in Australia, Puerto Rico, and places plagued with actual problems.
I’m definitely reveling in the deliciousness of watching a real-life soap opera complete with palaces, crown jewels, an unhappy expatriate, a disgruntled spare to the heir, and the potential imploding of a monarchy that has outlived its relevance but doesn’t want to admit it.
At first, Harry and Meghan’s decision to reduce their roles in the royal family split their time between the United Kingdom and North America, and support themselves financially struck me as ungrateful.
Not only were they biting the hand that fed them escargot and champagne, but they were also severing it at the wrist. And they posted this major life decision on Instagram before they told their own flesh and blood, which is just plain rude. They were shirking the duties they inherited from Harry’s family, responsibilities that included highly stylized photo ops and smiling demurely while waving politely.
What is the purpose of the royal family, anyway? No one really knows. Maybe that’s why Harry and Meghan chose to take their baby and leave. Perhaps they want a real-life, one that they chose and worked for together, rather than one that was preselected for them before his birth. Besides, Harry is sixth in line to the throne.
He ranks behind his big brother and his niece and nephews, one of whom is still in diapers. If he fulfilled his birth role in the family, he would occupy a sideline spot at best.
Publicly declaring that they want to chart their own course was a bold decision, a risky move toward an unsettled future. It’s a path not often taken by senior members of the royal family, who usually choose to enjoy the luxurious lifestyle and play by the secretive rules.
Royals sacrifice a lot to remain in good standing in with the Queen, which seems to be very important to most of them. She approves marriages and is the first to be notified of royal births. Choosing independence over the confining security of the crown is so…American.
But Harry did marry an American woman, after all. Unlike her husband, Meghan has lived outside “the firm.” She knows what freedom is, and she knows that it is not relinquishing all social media accounts, wearing only shoes approved by the Queen, and keeping a stiff upper lip at the expense of her health and happiness.
The Sussexes are headed for a big, unknown future armed with nothing more than love and a newly trademarked, globally recognized brand. They registered “Sussex Royal” with the UK’s Intellectual Property Office in December 2019. Once they stop receiving funds through a grant from the royal family, they are free to support themselves through a book deal, selling branded merchandise, or however else they see fit.
Good for Harry and Meghan. Usually, the prince rescues the damsel, but this time, the damsel with her American sensibilities helped rescue the prince.