Monday, December 26, 2022. Very cold in New York. This past holiday weekend had the coldest temperatures we’ve seen so far this winter. Beginning on Friday with winds coming in from the West, the temps dropped well below the 20s and briefly hitting Zero and below. It didn’t seem brief.
The business of Harry and Meghan. It’s amazing to me how people speak of this young couple. The press articles are mainly insulting remarks about them by people who don’t even know them. The press is in the middle of a family issue, maybe crisis, maybe not. It it were your family and about You, you’d say it was none of our business. It isn’t the first time a new woman comes into a family and somehow manages to dominate the conversation. Nothing new there. Anywhere.
Will’s wife is very pretty. I’ve been told by friends who lived in her neighborhood before the marriage that she was even more beautiful in person. That beauty was to a great degree her Ace. She also came from a non-Royal family who, it was widely believed, wanted their daughter to meet the future Prince of Wales. And so it was. Someday if things go all right, they’ll be king and queen.
It was always known in England that Princess Diana and King Charles’ first-born son would naturally become the Prince of Wales one day on his legal path to the throne. Prince Harry was never going to be in-line and that confirmed as soon as William and Kate — or Catherine, her birth name — had a son, an heir.
From the outside looking in, however; and even accompanied by inside stories about the “inside,” before his marriage to Meghan, Harry was a very important and useful Prince in terms of international relations for the UK as well as the public image of the Royal Family. His public reception internationally was second only to that of his late mother in terms of positive “diplomatic” effects for his country.
His public personality, which I’ve been told is the same as the private, has had that kind of political power — basically a good man and well-intentioned. Whether or not any of that is true, that is his public reputation. Except evidently he bears personal burdens like the rest of us. And we don’t know what it’s like because it’s a rare situation, or so we like to think.
History, however, has been wearing out the “rare-ness,’ of what’s left of monarchy in the world, in the early 21st century. It is mainly a public relations accessory that has formerly guaranteed the unity (a Brit is a Brit). The magnificent monarchy was a center and the main source of the country’s unity in the 20th century. Americans were freed of that forever after the American Revolution. Although ironically at least according to the national media, many Americans continue to have a personal opinion about the Royal lives and choices.
Now it has come out that King Charles has invited his son and his son’s wife to the Coronation. That sounds like Charles knows how to repair the public image of the family which is now besmirched by a beautiful girl/actress native of Los Angeles who married the Prince and who has rustled the feathers of even the millions and millions of Americans and British.
Although it does seem that there is much unhappiness attached to this family. It is the nature of family to hold certain individuals responsible for the bad feelings that are felt all around. In families where there are strict rules of stature you can do anything you want as long as you don’t besmirch the “Family’s” public image. These are centuries-old public/social habits.
It is quite probable that entering that family through marriage to one of the titled principals, in terms of the country’s international image, was a daunting affair. She may have had pre-suppositions to what it would be like to live in such a birdcage. I’m sure she later soon found out she had “no idea.”
She was not warmly welcomed but that has always been the story when a new woman comes into the scene of the Royal Men. So what. That’s the movie the world wants to see. For all kinds of reasons including jealousy. It also may be that Meghan the Duchess has a very strong constitution and will eventually prevail successfully for both herself and her husband. And then the public can bejewel her as another Madame Marcos. So what. Madame Marcos still has lots of friends. Or better, Mrs. Simpson. It turned that the Duchess of Windsor was the best thing for England in the long run. And she behaved royally and looked the part, and never complained (publicly).
This may be a good time for King Charles III. He’s waited a full lifetime to take on the job. First of all, he’s kept his name. Secondly, he has no real political power. However, he has the power of The Throne which is no longer legally attached as part of government but continues to maintain a powerful image historically and otherwise. And he has the image to “live up to.” He’s prepared to do that.
If his invitation to the Sussexes indicates a warm turn to Prince Harry and his duchess, that could even widen the King’s popularity. The love of family is a powerful notion, especially because it’s the image of a man holding his family together. That, in this day and age, is crucial in terms of public image. By rescuing his son, he could enhance the throne’s public image, which is therefore a powerful act. Prince Harry could be returned to being a good public ally for the Royal Family and for the United Kingdom.
Charles had spent decades being publicly ignored especially in his speeches. The problem is he knows very little about real life because he is so far removed. It’s not his fault; it’s the deck he was handed at birth. He has no sense of what is usually the main problem of most individuals and families: the money — never enough and where to get it. Or how to get it. I’m not talking about the well-fixed or very rich. I’m talking about 99% of the people living on this planet.
Money is the main issue that drives and ends marriages at every economic level. Money is political. On every level of human activity. Money is at the center of survival; every kind of survival. Money is the message that is God-like. Not “like” but God-like, in other words, “impossible.” And our connection to each other.
I’ve found the widely and frequently expressed public opinion about the new duchess very disturbing. However, I found some relief — surprisingly — in an opinion piece in last week’s New York Times by Roxane Gay, a professor of media, culture and feminist studies at Rutgers.
After all that has been said and done, Professor Gay looks at the Big Picture historically. She points out that the business of racism remains at the center of the family’s issue historically. It was during previous generations of this family over the past three centuries. Once the most powerful royal family in the world — in which England historically plundered foreign countries and supported (did big business in) slavery of its citizens to the decided financial advantage of the wealthier citizens’ businesses and financial situations. The marriage of Harry and Meghan has potentially provided the British with the opportunity, as Ms. Gay explains.
She sums it up sensibly and clearly: “The British monarchy is an aging institution defined by tradition, delusions, even hubris. However popular royal gossip may be, the monarchy’s power, influence and relevance are waning.”
She points out the reality of the situation with some simple facts: “… While the Commonwealth comprises 58 countries, King Charles reigns as monarch over the United Kingdom and 14 Commonwealth realms, vestiges of British imperialism. The people of the Commonwealth are … largely people of color. Here the royals had a biracial woman joining their ranks. For many Black Britons, Meghan Markle was something of a beacon, a sign that the power and reach of the monarch could extend to them too.”
Even the road to righting a wrong, even centuries later, is a hopeful sign for all of us in this deeply troubled world.