A modern couple trapped in an ancient lifestyle. Why Prince Harry and Princess Meghan’s resignation means more for British monarchy than it does for the couple.
The royal family has a seemingly impenetrable bubble around the details of their personal lives. Working royal family members aren’t even allowed to maintain their own social media accounts. Instead there are a few main accounts run on behalf of the royal family members that give followers updates. Prince William and Kate’s instagram is @kensingtonroyal and after Prince Harry and Meghan were married they received their own account @sussexroyal. While it does seem a little insane that these high-profile, iconic individuals are not allowed to have personal social media accounts, it’s solely another means of maintaining the “image.” There are also strict dress codes and behavior protocols for every member, even those married into the family, to keep up a respectable public perception of the family. But it is precisely those private details that intrigue everyone outside the gates of Buckingham Palace.
In Prince Harry’s recent interview with James Corden, host of The Late Late Show, he reveals a side of him that we have only gotten to see in a lucky paparazzi shot. Corden, best known for his carpool karaoke videos with A-listers, switched gears for Prince Harry. The two cruised around LA on a double-decker tourist bus, quite the contrary to the chauffeured Bentley limousine or horse-drawn carriage.
Harry’s courage to be open and real dates back to his mother, Princess Diana. It was Princess Di who popped the bubble, in a sense, with her warm approach to her role and royal engagements until her tragic car accident in 1997. Her two sons, Prince William and Harry, continue her legacy of sincerity, compassion, and dedication to serving others. Harry has notably gone more lengths than William to push the boundaries of royalty, but the discrepancy can be blamed primarily on the line to the throne. Prince William is second in line after his father, Prince Charles. Once Prince William and Princess Kate had their 3 children, Harry was bumped down to sixth, so, Harry’s actions do not hold the same weight as William’s, and therefore he had more freedom to step outside the lines.
The British press, which Prince Harry refers to in the interview as “toxic,” attacked Princess Diana throughout most of her time in the public eye, especially through her divorce from Prince Charles.
Perhaps witnessing his mother’s hardship and pain incited by the media triggered a drastic, but protective response from Harry when he sensed the media exploiting his wife, Princess Meghan. Meghan Markle, an actress well known for her role in “Suits,” became one of the few American women to marry into royalty when they tied the knot in May 2018. Markle is a biracial woman, a divorcee, and has a complicated relationship with her biological father, giving the British media plenty of ammunition to fire.
Just over a year ago, Prince Harry and Princess Meghan, made a decision to live outside of their royal duties and titles, which took the reins away from the media that was “destroying (his) mental health,” as Harry explained in the interview. He continued that their departure from the royal family, “was never walking away; it was stepping back rather than stepping down.” Not only did the couple step away from their roles, but they moved to America in August 2020. Ironically, the couple’s choice, although radical and defiant of expectation, has them reigning in another way.
Now, if you’re not obsessed with the royal family or haven’t binged The Crown on Netflix, then you might not realize what it means to “step down.” Royalty in Britain is sustained by principles and rules that sometimes don’t make sense or seem reasonable, but regardless, they are respected because of the sovereignty of the Crown. To "step down" from the Crown and the royal duties could seemingly weaken the sovereignty in the observant eyes of the church, state, and public.When members of the royal family defy those rules or step out of bounds, the image and respect of the Royals compromised, and the whole monarchy seems…outdated or just humanly impossible.
The most recent attack on Meghan’s character was made by The Times U.K. on Tuesday, March 2, making accusations against Meghan for harassing and bullying palace staff, which the palace is investigating. However, many of Meghan’s former castmates from “Suits” have come to her defense, such as Patrick J. Adams, who played her love interest on the series for 7 seasons. On Twitter, he fired back at the media, “it’s OBSCENE that the Royal Family, who’s newest member is currently GROWING INSIDE OF HER, is promoting and amplifying accusations of ‘bullying’ against a woman who herself was basically forced to flea the U.K. in order to protect her family and her own mental health. ” (@halfadams). Interestingly enough, these reports surfaced the same week of Harry and Meghan’s highly anticipated interview with Oprah, which aired Sunday, March 7 on CBS.
The couple shared many “behind closed gates” events involving the Royal family. Topics spanned from Meghan’s mental wellness, to concerns about the darkness of her son’s skin, and setting the record straight about her apparent feud with Kate Middleton.
Meghan explained to Oprah that she did not feel protected by the Royal family against the media that drove her to suicidal thoughts. With courageous sincerity, she confided in Oprah,
“I just didn’t want to be alive anymore and that was a very clear and real and frightening, constant thought” (CBS).
Even though she sought help from the institution of the monarchy, an entity separate from the Royal family, she was denied outside resources for worry of the stigma associated with mental illness. The public's perception and the media’s exploitation of Meghan were less important to the institution of the monarchy, willing to protect the image and reverence of sovereignty to the degree of jeopardizing a life, a life of value beyond regal titles and appearances.