Harry and Meghan stepping down is them saying that all the trappings of royalty aren't worth it. If they can’t see the value of a monarchy, why should anyone else?by Rik Worth / January 9, 2020 / Leave a comment
Megxit. The stepping down of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle from lives as senior roles already has a silly name. Which is fine because it’s kind of silly. The self-demotion from senior royal to minor royal doesn’t really mean anything. Not really. Not to your actual life.
Harry and Meg (I can call them that; they’re practically commoners now, after all) have had a relatively hard time of it. Meghan has faced a level of criticism from the British tabloids you couldn’t imagine.
Perhaps she should have known she would fall under such media scrutiny when she married into the most famous family on the planet. Still, Meghan quickly became a scapegoat for Little England. She was too American, too dismissive of her royal duties, and—unless I’m very much mistaken—people didn’t like that she didn’t fit their idea of a princess the way Kate Middleton did, aka, she wasn’t white. In fact, Meghan’s tenure as Duchess has seen her face racism; something we have to assume she wants to protect her children from as they grow up in the public eye.
Harry—the Ed Sheeran of Princes, if Ed Sheeran had once dressed up as a Nazi for a laugh—is basically a spare part. And it doesn’t take a psychologist to deduce the media’s obsession with his mother, and her subsequent death, have left scars. In 2016, he issued a statement condemning the press’ treatment of his wife, highlighting its “racial undertones” and saying she had been subject to a “wave of abuse.” Perhaps this “stepping down” was inevitable.
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“After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution. We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment. We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages. This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity. We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties. Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support.” – The Duke and Duchess of Sussex For more information, please visit sussexroyal.com (link in bio) Image © PA
So what now? The pair want to become “financially independent”—an unedifying term which seems to mean “use the money we’re given until we don’t need to be given money anymore.” But exactly how much do they need to earn to become “independent”?
These are important questions with answers that are utterly inconsequential in our daily lives (you’re not likely to get a refund on all the tax we’ve paid maintaining Frogmore Cottage, after all).
That is, of course, unless you think we should get rid of the Royal family. In which case this is another damning blow to a once noble—but mostly ignoble—house.
The Prince Andrew-Jeffery Epstein connection—which, just to be clear, is the friendship between a subsidised member of the royal family and man we later learned was a paedophile—has put the spotlight on the royals and left many of us asking how much we still need then. The palace has had to hide the disgraced prince and remove him from several royal functions—a sacrificial process to stop the public cancelling the entire bunch.
Harry and Meg, however, are the popular face of the Royal Family. At the very least, their story is sympathetic; many members of the public who doubt the value of monarchy still have time for them.
Their moving away from the media is the Royal family losing the one visible piece of progress they’ve made in some time. It’s back to the stagnant, boring traditions now—which will only be more noticeable by the absence of Meg and Harry. To use a football analogy, at the same time as their worst player has been sent off for a red card, the top goal scorers have just wandered off the pitch. Not surprisingly, the Palace is said to be a little miffed at losing its up-front duo, who it seems didn’t brief the family on their decision beforehand.
Buckingham Palace have sent their own statement out, adding that discussions with the couple are at “an early stage.” pic.twitter.com/aCXyEMQuW8
— Omid Scobie (@scobie) January 8, 2020
Think about what choosing your private life over your public one means if you are a royal. Being in the public eye and being a royal is inseparable. Even the most hardened monarchist has to accept that without the public knowing what the Royals are up to, the whole spectacle falls apart. (In fact, that’s the main reason monarchists enjoy the royals as they do.) Harry and Meg stepping down is them saying it isn’t worth it. And if they can’t see the value of a monarchy, why should anyone else?
Only a fifth of Britons actively want to hand the Queen an eviction notice, so abolishing the monarchy isn’t likely to happen anytime soon—although they could abolish themselves if they continue at this rate. But this kind constant negative attention raises the question: “what have we got them for?”