Wednesday

September 22nd, 2021

Insight

Royal Posturing

Laura Hollis

By Laura Hollis

Published March 11, 2021

Royal Posturing


Oprah Winfrey's interview with Queen Elizabeth II's grandson Harry, the Duke of Sussex, and his American wife, Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, was a real insight into the couple, and what was revealed was unflattering to both.

These two healthy, handsome and incredibly wealthy people, who enjoy a lavish lifestyle unknown to all but a tiny fraction of a percentage of the population of the entire world, came across as ungrateful, shallow and shockingly self-absorbed.

Using an internationally broadcast interview to air personal grievances, hurts and slights — real or perceived — is indescribably shabby. Instead of resolving their differences privately with those they claim to love and respect, Harry and Meghan took to the airwaves to clobber them from thousands of miles away, thus putting them on trial — and on the defense — in front of hundreds of millions of people.

Harry and Meghan keep saying that they left the royal family because they want their privacy and a "normal life." But they're asking the world to feel sorry for them from their $14 million home in Santa Barbara as they ink multimillion-dollar production deals, rub shoulders with the global glitterati and give breathlessly hyped interviews — in the middle of a global pandemic, no less. What oppression! Only in 2021 could such a tone-deaf display of self-absorption generate anything but rousing guffaws and contempt.

Meghan acts as if her racial background was a sticking point for the British royal family, and as if her difficulties adjusting to her new role were at the center of the British universe. It's hard to see any proof that that's true.

Before Harry and Meghan married, the press remarked on how the queen was including Meghan, and photographs suggested a warm relationship between the two. Meghan's claim of mental illness and suicidal thoughts has prompted some observers to suggest that she is playing the Princess Diana card.

That would clearly hit a sensitive and sore spot for her husband, Diana's youngest son. All emotional distress is individual, certainly, but Meghan seems much stronger than Lady Diana Spencer ever was — and she was almost 20 years older than Diana was when she joined the royal family.

By contrast, Diana's struggles were evident to anyone who was paying attention, from the day her engagement to Charles was announced to her sad countenance on their wedding day to her dramatic weight loss after the marriage. The signs were there long before either son was born and well before Buckingham Palace announced her separation from the Prince of Wales. Furthermore, in light of the revelations — both before and since Diana's death — about Diana's own struggles with emotional and mental health, it seems implausibly callous that her son's wife could ask for help and be rebuffed.

Meghan gives off the vibe of being deeply jealous of Prince William's wife, Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge. Leaks from within Harry and Meghan's staff (as well as Will and Kate's) long before Harry and Meghan announced their intention to leave suggested that Meghan bossed around her staff — and Kate's — and that she was upset at the smaller size of the home she and Harry were given, and at the greater attention given to Kate generally. Alas, Kate married the future king; Meghan did not. And William's three children push Harry even further down the list of heirs to the throne.

Significantly, Meghan glosses over the challenges and difficulties Kate herself faced in making the transition from life as a commoner to the wife of the future king of England. Kate was also criticized about her background; some in the media characterized the success of Carole Middleton (Kate's mother) as an entrepreneur and the decision to send Kate to St. Andrews (where William also attended) as money-grubbing social climbing.

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Kate was called "Waity Katy" for her perseverance in waiting for Will to make a decision to marry her. She endured being under the media microscope, was tailed by the press relentlessly and was photographed everywhere she went. That Kate handled it with aplomb and without lobbing bombs at William's family or the monarchy in general does not mean that it was not difficult for her.

For his part, Harry seems to be a man whose identity has become completely subsumed into his wife's. This is sad and pathetic for any man, made more so by Harry's position and potential.

What is truly scandalous is not the petulant litany of slights Harry and Meghan recounted for Oprah but the fact that they seem engaged in an effort to destroy the British monarchy — an institution that has endured for over a thousand years — using racism and hurt feelings as their weapons of choice. They purport to exempt Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip from their accusations, but this is a feint.


Elizabeth will be 95 next month, and Philip — who is in poor health — will be 100 in June. Harry and Meghan's offensive is targeting not this generation of the monarchy but the next — Charles, Harry's father, and William, Harry's brother — in what cannot help but be seen as a betrayal of fraternal love.

If Shakespeare were alive today, he might be inclined to rewrite his own words and put them in the mouths of Harry and Meghan to describe the now-infamous interview: "Friends, British people, citizens of the world, lend us your ears;/ we come not to bury the British monarchy but to praise it."

The world sees right through them.

(COMMENT, BELOW)

Laura Hirschfeld Hollis is on the faculty at the University of Notre Dame, where she teaches courses in business law and entrepreneurship. She has received numerous awards for her teaching, research, community service and contributions to entrepreneurship education.

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