First Brexit, now Megxit. The land of my birth, and to a lesser extent the rest of the world, has been shaken by last week’s announcement by Prince Harry and Meghan, aka the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, of their decision to distance themselves from the royal family.
Below is the statement they released: “After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution. We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family, and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty the Queen.
“It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment. We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages. This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity.
“We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty the Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge, and all relevant parties. Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support.”
While this all sounds very respectful, the way it was announced – some reports indicating that is was without even consulting Queen Elizabeth II or other senior royals – was certainly not.
This unexpected decision appears to have taken the rest of the royal family by surprise, although with hindsight there have been plenty of recent hints.
Rumors of discord between the formerly close brothers, Prince William and Prince Harry, as well as their wives, have been pretty consistent. Early last October the couple announced that they had sued Associated Newspapers for publishing a private letter after many complaints that the media intrude into their private lives.
Later in October, British TV aired a documentary about the couple that revealed just how hurt Meghan had been by the intense scrutiny she was put under upon marrying Harry.
“I never thought this would be easy but I thought it would be fair,” she said of the negative British press coverage. “And that is the part that is hard to reconcile.”
The royal couple and baby son, Archie, spent Thanksgiving in the USA with Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, and an extended period over Christmas with her in North America instead of with the rest of the royal family at the Sandringham royal estate in the British countryside.
It appears that this time away provided them with an opportunity to plan the announcement that they will be stepping back from their roles as senior members of the royal family.
This announcement last week has been met with surprise and even shock around the world as people come to terms with what has been called “Megxit,” a reference to Britain leaving the rest of Europe at the end of January, known as Brexit.
Buckingham Palace’s official response has been rather frosty, and most British people think that Prince Harry is under the influence of his wife, who moved from Canada and left her acting career, to marry the Prince.
Others have complained that it all stems from a desire to be different and more like Hollywood celebrities. There is speculation that the couple want to maximize their fame and ability to make serious money – with rumors abounding that they have been offered movie deals, and even future roles in the TV series “The Crown.”
It has not all been negative. Many people applauded the independent streak shown by the couple in wanting to raise their son, Archie, with exposure to both his mother’s American (she was born and raised in California) and his father’s British heritages, as well as their desire to make their own way, set up their own charitable organizations and earn their own money.
The Sussex family, as they like to be known, have already confirmed that they want to have more direct contact with the media and general public through social media, grassroots media organizations and young, up-and-coming journalists.
They plan to invite specialist media to specific events/engagements to give greater access to their cause-driven activities, widening the spectrum of news coverage.
Interestingly, they will no longer participate in the royal rota system, which is how the royal family has interacted with trusted media sources for many decades.
As the rest of the royal family is trying to regain some semblance of control, apparently the Queen has ordered royal courtiers to define a future role for Prince Harry and Meghan very soon. Stay tuned, royal watchers!
There is much more information, from the perspective of Harry and Meghan at sussexroyal.com.
I will leave you with two quotes from Princess Diana, Harry’s mother, whose tragic death nearly 23 years ago deeply affected the 13-year-old prince and still influences many of his actions and decisions today: “Being a princess isn’t all it is cracked up to be,” and “I’d like to be queen in people’s hearts.”
God bless America and the British royal (and not so royal) family!