JANE MOORE Let’s not pretend Meghan Markle has been pitchforked off Britain by racists
14 Jan 2020
IF you fancy a guilty pleasure, check out 90 Day Fiance on TLC.
It follows the fortunes, or rather, misfortunes, of Americans who fall in love with foreigners and have just over three months to get married or send them home.
Let's not pretend Meghan Markle has been pitchforked off Britain by racists Credit: Getty - Contributor
A massive leap of faith, it’s usually a matter of days
— sometimes hours — before the clash of cultures, personalities, values and expectations make this the television gift that keeps on giving.
Perhaps Meghan and Harry should sign up for season eight. For how much did they really know about each other before walking down the aisle?
Prince William apparently advised his more impetuous brother to wait so he could really get to know his American bride first, but Harry took umbrage and didn’t listen.
Perhaps if he had, he might have worked out in advance that an independent spirit joining such a restrictive institution wasn’t going to end well.
Instead, they leapt before they looked and, with the “19-month bride” having packed her bags already, have saddled the 93-year-old Queen with yet another constitutional crisis.
Back in 2017, I wrote a piece defending Meghan
after she was criticised by old school friend Ninaki Priddy for being “calculated in the way she handled people and relationships” and a “curator of a beautiful life”.
But following the lavish baby shower, the jet-setting with A-listers and the swift jettisoning of inconveniently outspoken family members, the latter sentiment now rings true.
And, of course, becoming a member of the most famous royal family in the world was the cherry on the top of that beautiful life.
But Meghan soon discovered it was nothing like the membership of her beloved Soho House.
The rooms are draughty, the decor chintzy and, instead of reading the morning papers in your cashmere loungewear, you have to rise early, put on a frock and make your way to some rain-lashed outpost to open the new wing of a community centre where “live your best life” sentiments, however well-meaning, aren’t required.
Here’s what is required as a member of the British Royal Family:
Turn up on time, shake hands, smile, say little more than “have you come far?” Repeat.
Not because the royals don’t have anything to say. They do, and air their views in private.
But in public, their job is to shine a light on whatever project they’re visiting, not themselves. To show — via action, not virtue-signalling statements — a strong sense of duty.
And in return they get to keep their various mansions, hundreds of staff, personal bodyguards etc without any whiff of civil unrest.
That’s the deal.
But those still in Meghan’s social circle glowingly describe her as organised, focused, and opinionated — very much an independent woman used to having her voice heard.
As Prince Harry told courtiers just before their wedding: “What Meghan wants, Meghan gets.”
An admirable quality when it comes to breaking through the glass ceiling of corporate life or securing the best table in the best restaurant, perhaps.
Meghan was criticised by old school friend Ninaki Priddy Credit: Getty - Contributor
But the monarchy is an institution steeped in hundreds of years of tradition, and Meghan — who claimed she “didn’t know much” about Harry when they first met — clearly thought she’d mould it to her way of thinking . . . then rapidly discovered that it ain’t for turning.
Not that The Queen didn’t try very hard to accommodate the wants and needs of the newly anointed Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Contrary to royal tradition, they were permitted to keep the christening of baby Archie as a private affair and, despite there being a perfectly nice home at Kensington Palace they could have used, a publicly funded, £2.4million renovation of Frogmore Cottage was authorised.
A “cottage” I might add, that used to be five homes but has now been knocked in to one because they managed to dodge the usual ban that prevents such moves because of the UK’s housing crisis.
Shortly after, Prince Charles launched his blueprint to try to solve the dilemma faced by millions of young people struggling to find a home of their own. Oh the irony. And after all that, they now want to use it part-time as they flit back and forth across the Atlantic.
Meghan is feeling disillusioned and homesick. We get it, and sympathise.
But let’s not pretend, as some claim, that she’s been practically pitchforked off this island by racist bigots.
This is not a racist country and, besides, the British public initially greeted her engagement and later marriage to Harry with unbridled joy.
We love Harry. He’s a thoroughly decent person and deserves particular praise for the work he’s done with the Armed Forces, both while serving and afterwards.
No, the disconnect has come from the fact that Meghan is still a Hollywood celebrity at heart and, consequently, never truly settled in her often boring and restrictive new role.
She misses the relative freedom of her old life, not to mention her family and friends.
Again, we get it. But was it really necessary to flee these shores as if escaping for her life?
Clearly besotted with her, Harry faces the stark decision of giving her what she wants or losing her for ever. Or perhaps he’s genuinely sick of royal life and wants out too.
If so, let’s wave goodbye and wish them luck.
But. The have-cake-and-eat-it plan to stop being a “senior royal” and just dip in and out of duties that suit them simply isn’t going to work.
SussexRoyal — which Harry and Meghan have registered as an official trademark for everything from “emotional support services” to clothing and magazines — is a title and privilege that comes with duties and conditions attached, not a brand, be it charitable or otherwise.
The future of the monarchy depends on the goodwill, support and interest level of the public, and a recent survey showed that, while the majority have no issue with their decision to go, they were strongly against any continued taxpayer funding of their lavish lifestyle.
So if — as early indicators go — The Queen allows Harry and Meghan to call the shots while keeping their royal titles, their taxpayer-funded security and an allowance from the Duchy of Cornwall, then one suspects this will be discussed by students for centuries to come as the turning point at which the British monarchy began its steady decline to irrelevance and, ultimately, abolition.