RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: Her Majesty deserves better than this and you don't have to be an ardent royalist to be thoroughly disgusted
By RICHARD LITTLEJOHN FOR THE DAILY MAIL
9 January 2020
Talk about history repeating itself. It’s 28 years since Lady Di broke up with Prince Charles and announced she intended to carry on being an independent member of the Royal Family.
I can remember writing at the time that it was a bit like Bianca Jagger, after getting divorced from Mick, insisting she would continue to be an independent member of the Rolling Stones.
Diana owed everything to the fact that she had married into the House of Windsor. Without the royal seal of approval, she was just another Sloane Ranger.
The Queen deserves to be treated better by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, writes Richard Littlejohn
Same goes for Meghan Markle — shorn of her royal connections, she’d be just another obscure actress. Be honest, hands up if you’d ever heard of her before she got her hooks into Harry?
Me, neither. Apparently, her big break was holding the briefcase on the U.S. version of Deal Or No Deal.
She was also in something called Suits, which peaked at two million viewers on an American cable channel — just over 0.6 per cent of the available audience.
So she wasn’t even a household name in her homeland. In Britain, Suits went out on Dave — best known for showing endless repeats of Top Gear.
It is her relationship with the Prince which propelled her to international celebrity, not her unremarkable TV career.
As they embark on their adventure as ‘independent’ members of the Royal Family, the couple may well discover, like Harry’s mum Diana, that things don’t always work out as well as envisaged
Diana owed everything to the fact that she had married into the House of Windsor. Without the royal seal of approval, she was just another Sloane Ranger. The pair are pictured on a tour in Canada in 1991
The British people, with characteristic generosity, embraced Meghan. Her fairytale wedding at Windsor captivated the nation.
With Harry’s irrepressible Jack The Lad image and Meghan’s mixed-race heritage, the couple were hailed as heralding a new era for the royals. Until now, that is.
By renouncing most of their royal responsibilities, while clinging limpet-like to their titles and related privileges, they have forfeited any claim to such admiration as they once enjoyed.
They now intend to remain ‘independent’ members of the House of Windsor, while developing their own ‘brand’ and dividing their time between Britain and North America.
Missing you already. The plain fact is that without the royal connection they wouldn’t have a brand to develop.
Why would the world be in the slightest bit interested in a minor aristocrat and a game-show hostess turned bit-part actress?
At the very least, this was an appalling display of bad manners. It really was an egregious example of lèse-majesté — the French expression taken from Middle English, meaning ‘to insult the monarch’
Even before this week’s grandiose, self-serving announcement, most people were sick to the back teeth of their ‘woke’ grandstanding, whining self-pity, eco-hypocrisy and ocean-going freeloading, especially at the expense of the British taxpayer.
Now, they are determined to milk their royal association for every last penny they can extract, while shunning the duties which go with it.
They even plan to carry on using as their UK base Frogmore Cottage, which was renovated at a cost of £2.4 million and rising from the public purse.
It has been suggested that if they intend to keep Frogmore as their private residence they should reimburse the Exchequer the fortune lavished upon it.
Be honest, hands up if you’d ever heard of her before she got her hooks into Harry? Me, neither. Apparently, her big break was holding the briefcase on the U.S. version of Deal Or No Deal
Truth is, they almost certainly can’t afford to. And without the patronage of others, they definitely couldn’t sustain the A-list, jet-set lifestyle to which they obviously believe they are entitled.
Harry is a 35-year-old man who is still financially dependent on his dad. Meghan isn’t worth anything like the kind of money you’d expect a so-called ‘Hollywood star’ to make.
Even at the height of her role in Suits, she was reported to be paid a salary equivalent to around £350,000 a year, at current rates of exchange.
A handsome sum, admittedly, but chicken feed compared to the £1 million plus an episode the biggest stars of American TV can command.
Maybe Meghan believes that now she has the cachet of a royal title, the likes of Netflix and Amazon will be queueing up to shower her with riches, should she choose to return to acting.
Who cares? There are others better qualified than me to speculate about the motivation behind this week’s parting of the ways between the Sussexes and the rest of the family.
I’m not bothered about the reputational damage or the constitutional implications — of which there are none, from what I can gather. No, what concerns me on a human level is the abominable manner in which the Queen has been treated by her grandson and his wife.
They didn’t even consult her before putting out their statement this week.
The first she knew about it was when the story broke on television.
It is being reported that, in advance of a planned meeting at Sandringham, Her Maj had specifically asked Harry not to make any premature announcement about his future plans, but he decided to openly defy her.
At the very least, this was an appalling display of bad manners. It really was an egregious example of lèse-majesté — the French expression taken from Middle English, meaning ‘to insult the monarch’.
You don’t have to be an ardent royalist — and no one has ever accused me of that — to be thoroughly disgusted at such selfish, thoughtless behaviour.
Leave aside the fact that she’s Queen. This was no way to treat an old lady. Those of us fortunate enough still to have a mum, or grandmother, in her 90s can readily understand how distressing she will have found it.
Elizabeth II is a 93-year-old woman with a sick husband of 98. She’s had a rough few months, not just with Philip in hospital, but having to cope with her favourite son, Andrew, becoming embroiled in an international sex trafficking scandal with a weapons-grade, convicted paedophile.
The last thing she needed was yet another family furore landing in her lap. She has always indulged her grandsons, particularly in the wake of their mother’s untimely death. She deserves better than this.
The Queen has been the glue that has held both her family and this country together, in good times and bad.
While the nation — or at least the political class — has been tearing itself apart over Brexit for the past three-and-a-half years, she has provided much needed stability.
The thought of a partisan president — someone like that gurning gargoyle John Bercow, heaven forfend — lording it over us all is too horrible to contemplate.
As I said, I’ve never been a royalist, but as the years have passed my admiration for the Queen has grown.
Those of us fortunate enough still to have a mum, or grandmother, in her 90s can readily understand how distressing she will have found it. Elizabeth II is a 93-year-old woman with a sick husband of 98
Churchill once said of democracy: it’s the worst way to run a country, except for all the others. You could say the same about the British monarchy.
I can recall dear old Jack Tinker, late of this parish, remarking that there would only ever be a republican revolution in this country if Her Maj said it was OK.
The Queen is part of that stoical World War II, make-good-and-mend, generation, who — again in the words of Winston Churchill — KBO (Keep Buggering On).
What a contrast to the self-centred snowflakery of her grandson Harry and his Hollywood wife, with their endless moaning about ‘mental health issues’ and bottomless sense of entitlement.
As they embark on their adventure as ‘independent’ members of the Royal Family, the couple may well discover, like Harry’s mum Diana, that things don’t always work out as well as envisaged.
Still, when the invitations dry up and they are reduced to travelling economy — not on Elton’s private jet — Meghan can always go back to holding a briefcase on a revival of Deal Or No Deal.
And Harry could take on the Noel Edmonds role. After all, he’s got the beard for it.
They could call the show: Royal Or Not Royal.