I like Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. I thought they brought a breath of fresh air to archaic demonstration of pomp and ceremony that is the British monarchy. As a recent immigrant to the UK, I enjoyed the temporary excitement brought on by their wedding and subsequently, their work. I love the Queen too, as I do the pomp and ceremony. It’s fun.
I know that Britons are really invested in their Royal Family. Almost like they are possessions and like all possessions they shall be kept in their proper place. So, the huge outcry that has manifested in the media (and with it, the incessant opinions of people, who are being asked for them BY said media) should have come as no surprise to me. But it did.
And what I have seen is fascinating and scary at the same time and perversely, I can’t look away. What I have seen is this: many people in this country are still stuck in the past and still dream of empire. Most of these people are white men.
Diana Princess of Wales went through much aggravation; she was a woman who did not quite fit in with people’s ideas of what a future queen should be like. Heck, she did not fit in with what the Royals themselves thought her behaviour should be. So, she left them and then she died while being chased by the same media men, who wanted to capture one more of her“shenanigans”. Her son remembers this and is impacted by it.
Enter Meghan Markle. A multi-race, independent woman. Once again, she does not fit in with what the “idea” of the monarchy is in this country. An idea constantly perpetuated by the media. Meghan married her prince and you could already see the barely hidden racist attacks. By the time she had a son the level of criticism just went up and up. Again, mainly directed her way, by white men, who always seem shocked that racism (and misogyny) exists in this country, while providing racists and misogynists with a platform.
People are not happy that Harry and Meghan have decided to break away from the monarchy. They are upset because they should have done this to the “poor Queen”. I’m sorry, why should the lives of a young couple be sacrificed at the alter of an aged institution? And just like the criticism aimed at Meghan about this being her job, it is the Queen’s job to handle situations like these. The thing is, worry over the “poor Queen” is just an excuse to exert control; to continue the dream of empire.
There is nothing wrong with Harry and Meghan wanting to carve out a new path. There is nothing wrong with that path being partly independent and partly still working as a royal. And if this is how the country and its monarchy are going to enter the new decade, so be it. The only problem is the people and the media, who are upset because they think a woman (a black foreign woman at that) came along and corrupted their prince. As if that prince was an empty vessel ready to be filled in with whatever product she deigned to fill him up. Her fault. She hasn’t observed the decorum expected of her. Look at the Duchess of Cambridge, how perfectly she comports herself. How brilliantly she has taken to the life of a royal. Why couldn’t Meghan do this? Well, firstly because she has been constantly been pitted against Catherine and secondly she has been subjected to constant racist criticism. The reason everyone likes Catherine is because in their minds she knows her proper place as a woman who is part of the royal family. Meghan doesn’t and that’s the problem. But even if life was absolutely fantastic for both Harry and Meghan, they are still most certainly entitled to choose a path that works for them.
To me its been clear that both Harry and Meghan wanted to move on. Both took this decision together. Perhaps Meghan’s presence and support made it easier for Harry to do so but it clearly is a joint decision. People need to calm down because seriously, this is not the end of the world. After all it wasn’t that long ago that a king gave up his throne because he wanted to live the life he wanted, with a woman he wanted. Britain survived, as did the monarchy. Harry is not even in line to the throne.
And now I get to the scary bit that I mentioned above, which is the level of vitriol being expended on two people, who just want to spend their lives in peace, compared to the very understated reaction to Prince Andrew. Apparently, being best friends with a known paedophile (and perhaps being one himself) is not as bad as being a foreign woman of colour, wanting to live life at her own terms.