Photo from NPR
I’ve always been a fan of all things British. Fish and chips. P.G. Wodehouse. Soccer. Rain.
The royalty, though, I’ve never really had strong feelings about, other than underlying concerns about the notion of hereditary rule and how that played in to the scourge of colonialism throughout history. I would never have called myself an anti-Royalist.
And then came the Oprah interview.
I’m #anti-Royalist now. Anti the royals, and anti the institution called the ‘Firm.’
Harry and Meghan went out of their way to protect the Queen, and made it clear this is not on her. Kate, too, mostly gets by.
Philip, Charles, and William, though … both through omission and what was actually said, these three and the entire administrative backbone of the monarchy just got their crowns handed to them.
Philip and Charles, everyone always knew they were problematic. But William … as the future king, and as a brother, he should have been out there with his brother, confronting the gloating, MAGA-esque racism of the UK “Press” and their hypocritical treatment of Meghan. He owed that to his brother and to their mother. And he failed.
May that crown of failure weigh heavily on his head.
It’s somewhat ironic – or maybe just fitting – that The Crown won a Critics Choice Award today. Ironic that the show managed to celebrate the royal institution and elevate it, flaws and all, on the day that institution got eviscerated on national TV in the US. Fitting because the strength of that show’s recent season was the tragic arc of Princess Diana and the utter failure of Prince Charles and the rest of the royal family to protect her – just as they failed to protect Meghan.
The interview was stunning, both in style and substance (it’s easy to forget how sublime Oprah can be as an interviewer; I couldn’t imagine trying to hide something from her or distort the truth). Harry and Meghan gracefully walked this fine line of looking forward to the future while ripping open the locked doors of the past. Meghan was remarkably honest about how bad the situation got, calling attention to the vital need of mental health care access to anyone; at the same time, she would no longer be silenced. Harry, too, managed to stress how much he cares for his family, the institution, and the worthy causes he and Meghan wanted to support, while also drawing a firm line in the sand and pointing out where that line was crossed and what he had to do to protect his family. His dad should have stepped in. His brother should have stepped in. And when they failed, Harry and Meghan had to walk away.
Other things I thought about:
It was a fascinating concept, the toxic symbiosis between the press and the royal institution. You would have thought more lessons would have been learned. But no. And they still haven’t. The UK Press started spreading stories that Meghan was a bully leading up to this interview. If that was coordinated from the Palace, whoever made that call should be fired, because they just got scorched, and made to appear weak, petty, gross, and racist, the dregs of an outmoded tradition of inherited privilege.
Something M and I discussed, and to which Harry alluded, it’s amazing how racism blinds people to their best interests. The romantic notion of the Commonwealth is a gilding of a policy of colonialism, which was basically global conquest predicated on racist attitudes. Meghan was this fairy-tale story that the powers-that-be could have embraced as a way of modernizing and shoring up their institution against history’s long, slow, bending arc toward justice. But they went for silence in the face of lies and racist venom in the press instead.
Actually, I guess that isn’t quite so amazing, not after the MAGA regime (so, yes, I know the US is rife with our own ugliness – Mexico made us take Ted back).
The UK has already decided to exit from Europe; they might as well break with the royal tradition as well. They’ll save a lot of money if they stop subsidizing the Windsors, which might come in handy if the effects of Brexit prove to be worth less than a royal flush.
Well, I suggest keep subsidizing Elizabeth as a part of the transition.
As for the rest? Well, if they need tips on carving their own path and fending for themselves, Harry and Meghan can probably give them some tips.