By Eleanor Mckie
The Duke of Sussex has spoken for the first time after Buckingham Palace announced the terms on which he and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, will step back from being senior royals. See Prince Harry’s full speech below:
It doesn’t take a royalist to know that the latest news from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex has put the royal family as we know it in jeopardy. Last week on Instagram, the royal couple announced their intentions to diverge paths with the ‘Firm’ and take a step back from royal life and Prince Harry announced last night that the couple had no option but to give up their HRH titles.
Despite stepping down as senior members of the royal family , the Sussexes declared their intentions to ‘honour duty to the Queen, the Commonwealth and their patronages’. Her Majesty has recently told of her support for her grandson, who is as of today sixth in line to her throne, but even with the stamp of so called ‘royal approval’ no one really knows what all this means.
In his youth, Prince Harry had a reputation as a party prince. Wherever it was stripping naked on holiday or dressing as a Nazi, he always found a way to earn a scolding from his grandmother. Perhaps it was the rebellious streak he inherited from his mother, the late Lady Diana Spencer or the grief from her tragic death when he was only twelve years old that caused him to stray from the rules of being in the royal family. Now it seems he’s done something similar, potentially abandoning his post as an important British figure without even consulting his beloved grandmother and family. Yet by announcing his withdrawal without consulting the other senior royals, Prince Harry has made evident that relationships are frayed in the royal family.
Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex married Prince Harry in a gorgeous ceremony in at St George’s Chapel on the 19th of May 2018. Many people were pleased that royal family seemed to be progressing with the modern world by accepting a bi-racial divorced American actress and that this fun young couple could rejuvenate the royal family and get rid of that British stiff upper lip. Yet since her entry into the British spotlight, it hasn’t been smooth sailing. Meghan has been unfairly treated in comparison to her sister in law, the Duchess of Cambridge with the media unjustly slandering her behaviour. Sadly, Meghan has commented that ‘not many people have asked if I’m okay.’ Therefore, one must wonder if being part of the firm is more isolating than it seems.
However, is the lack of independence the only motivation for the couple to leave the family? Rumours of a strain between Princes William and Harry have circulated the media since the name ‘Meghan Markle’ was first associated with Harry’s. Moreover, Meghan has undoubtedly struggled to adapt to royal ways. She doesn’t wear tights; she gives hugs and she even shut her own car door. Although this may seem mundane to most of us, this is disrespectful to the queen. By adhering to these albeit archaic rules, the royal family keep themselves separate from the rest of us. Not entirely in an elitist way, as they do their work and many agree ‘earn their keep’, but by doing so the set an set a standard of perfectionism their subjects are inclined to follow. They are not allowed to make mistakes, trivial or otherwise (Prince Andrew we’re looking at you) and ultimately, Meghan may have put a toe out of line once too many.
Regardless of the motivation, this extreme action will have massive implications for the future of the royal family. In a world where hierarchal systems such as this are already seen as backwards, the ramifications of ‘Megxit’ could change the royal family for good. Across Europe, royal families are slimming down. Most recently King Carl Gustaf of Sweden made the decision that only his direct heirs should have titles. It also goes without saying that many strong royal dynasties have been lost due to what fundamentally is a lack of public approval. Although some believe that the couple should be free to do their own thing, many are angered by the ‘selfishness’ of the situation. Yet this is softened by the removal of public funding. Afterall, Harry has undoubtedly fulfilled his duties in other ways such as his two tours of Afghanistan in the army and creating the Invictus Games. Why should they have to stick to an old fashioned and largely ceremonial institution if they can do good elsewhere?
Of course, it is impossible to predict what will eventually happen to the royal family, even without the exit of the Sussexes. Although this may seem a royal dark age, undoubtedly the Queen and her predecessors have managed to survive a lot worse. The history books tell us so. As for Mr and Mrs Sussex, only the future will tell exactly what this form of ‘new royalty’ will bring to the world.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons