Saturday 14 January 2023

Harry and Meghan upstage Will and Kate (The Sunday Guardian)


Unless he is a superb actor, the story Harry has been expounding rings largely true.

Some of the points made in interviews by Prince Harry Windsor are disturbing if true, especially that Camilla, now the Queen Consort of the UK, was active in poisoning the atmosphere surrounding Harry and Meghan while they were resident in one of the palaces retained for personal use by the House of Windsor. The slurs against Meghan are similar to those cast in the direction of Camilla during the period when Diana and Charles were in the process of first separating from and subsequently divorcing each other. Camilla was then called a witch by British tabloids, exactly what Meghan is being called ever since marrying Prince Harry. To be an effective writer in the tabloid press, a journalist needs to have a surfeit of voyeurism as well as generous doses of envy directed at their targets. For those on the outside of the goldfish bowl that is Royal life in Britain, there was no doubt that Diana, the mother of his two children, was in love with Charles. She was visibly devastated when she realised that his heart had belonged to Camilla Parker-Bowles even during the time when he was courting Diana Spencer. In hindsight, Queen Elizabeth was wrong in her refusal to accept that her successor to the Crown could marry a divorced woman. In much the same way, the Queen was wrong when she blocked the marriage of her sister Margaret to a divorced man, Peter Townsend, despite the couple being in love with each other. Elizabeth considered her life to be indistinguishable from her role as Monarch. To the approving Palace staff, her Victorian ways distinguished her from commoners, and hence was regarded as essential to retain. Her sister and her son fell victim to Elizabeth’s steely determination to live the constricted life that she regarded as essential to prevent the Windsors from being turfed out of the Monarchy. Was Charles persuaded to marry Diana because Camilla decided to go by what she thought were Rules for Royals and told Charles that she was never going to tie the knot with him? Until Queen Consort Camilla writes her own autobiography, there is no way of knowing why Charles married a girl he never loved, inevitably causing her much heartbreak. Diana’s eldest son William seems in his grandmother’s mould, always going by what is expected of him (at least in public). Harry was from the start in a different mould, the way his mother was. It was no surprise that William married a young, uncomplicated girl who had a temperament suited to playing a role for most of the day every day. Whatever, Kate and Will seem happy together, although William seems to share his grandmother’s fear that the British people may someday revolt against them and storm the Palace, or make enough fuss to get them evicted by the House of Commons. This may explain why the Prince of Wales seems as controlled by the environment and staff around him as Queen Elizabeth.
Meghan was as different from her sister-in-law as Harry was from his elder brother. She had established herself independently of her family, or even despite some in her family. It speaks for Harry’s refusal to conform to the unwritten rules governing Royal marriages that he met, fell in love with and married Meghan oblivious as to what his family would think about his marrying a mixed-race divorcee from the US. Goaded by Palace retainers if not by Camilla, the tabloids went after Meghan in the manner of piranha going after a swimmer in a lake, and worked at devouring her reputation. Harry’s view that his brother and others in the family added fuel to the tabloid fire may or may not be accurate. What is obvious is that he and Meghan were turfed out of Royal privileges by the Queen in an unseemly hurry. Since then, Meghan continues to be pilloried by the tabloids, essentially for not being more like Kate, while Harry is under attack even for his stint in the military. Any death is of course unfortunate, but by “neutralising” 26 Taliban fighters, Harry may have saved the lives of at least half that many Coalition troops who would have been in danger of being killed by the extremist militia. Paraphrasing Marx, it may be said that war is not a picnic. According to Taliban spokespersons approvingly quoted by the BBC, “human beings are not chess pieces”. Is that why so many pro-western Afghans that had been left behind by President Biden are being identified and “neutralised” by Taliban “chess players”? Genteel folks in the UK are aghast that Harry killed such exemplars of humanity as the Taliban, rather than handing over bars of chocolate to them. Shocking behaviour. Not at all what King Charles, Prince Andrew or the Prince of Wales would have done, had any of them gone to fight in Afghanistan. Unlike Harry, none of the three would have been reckless enough to stray within range of a Taliban sniper. The barb directed at the woman who supplanted his mother in the Palace should not mean that King Charles not follow his own generous nature and bring the two prodigals back into the Royal fold. Such a step would do more for the Windsors than any amount of tabloid venom directed at Meghan and Harry.
If Harry’s suspicions about his stepmother’s conduct towards Meghan and him are true, it is almost as though Camilla sought to win the approval of Diana’s eldest son and others in the family circle by rounding on Meghan and Harry. Unless he is a superb actor, the story Harry has been expounding rings largely true, and has won for himself and his bride the sympathy and the support of the overwhelming majority of citizens of Commonwealth countries, including many in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. Were the two exiles to remain estranged from the rest of the family, within the Commonwealth and in most other parts of the world, Charles and Camilla, not to forget Will and Kate, will be regarded with less than affection. If the British Royals wish to survive as an institution respected by the Commonwealth, Kate and Will may need to ensure that Meghan and Harry are welcomed back from the cold. And that this time around, the choice given to them should not be accepting a straitjacketed way of living or facing expulsion.

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