Since the bombshell interview of Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle (the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, respectively), by Oprah Winfrey, a notable global media icon, the British monarchy may not admit the extent of the crisis but it is evident that their world has been turned upside down. It is good to play down the issues as a deliberate strategy but the consequential PR damages to Buckingham Palace are immense.
In the wider scheme of things, the interview should really be of no significance. But the times are changing and the world is forced to witness a spectacle of a family and institution that is gradually imploding. The interview revealed two things: racist allegations and what Meghan called “suicidal thoughts”. No matter the lens we use to look at these revelations, they are deeply troubling.
As we rewind the tape of the unfolding drama and the reactions that followed, two key issues also stand out: one, the entire episode, as the palace puts it, will be treated as a private – translated to mean “family” — affair, and two, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and older brother of Prince Harry, in a reaction to the allegation of racism, said, “we are very much not a racist family.” That’s a fair comment as he was not expected to say anything to the contrary
Racist sentiments expressed by people of colour have a long history – it is not a new thing. Black Lives Matter (BLM), for example, is a movement at the heart of the fight against racial injustice. Even when they are not very obvious, racist biases manifest in the form of discrimination in work places, on the football field, in schools and so on. The fight for racial equality since the days of Martin Luther King Jr and other civil rights campaigners will always be a sticking point insofar as race relations around the world are continually mismanaged. Diversity and inclusion will help us build a better world.
As celebrities in their own right, Prince Harry and Meghan have been spotlighted by the media as news items on a regular basis, but the allegations from the interview were truly damning. When the Duke and Duchess of Sussex married three years ago (May 19, 2018), an interview that would provoke global outrage on a scale never seen before by the monarchy was definitely not what Buckingham Palace bargained for.
With over 17 million viewers watching the interview when it was first aired in the United States, Harry and Meghan’s tell-all blistering attack on the royal family came at a very wrong time. Prince Phillip, 99, is the Duke of Edinburgh; husband of Queen Elizabeth II and grandfather of Harry. He has been in hospital recovering from heart surgery, and it has been his longest hospital stay away from the Queen – nearing one month.
When you marry into royalty, there are certain expectations and I think Meghan did not do enough homework to understand the wide ranging implications of marrying a Prince – maybe her internet search did not reveal much about her husband and the royal family. The idea that Meghan was being manipulated should also not come up in the first place; it is rather far-fetched.
Breaking away from the family that nurtured Harry before he found Meghan is a matter the palace should look into. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex said they felt like strangers in the royal family – without love for Meghan and care for her mental health, there had to be an escape route. It is another way of saying they were betrayed. In the absence of love as they alleged, they relocated and settled in California, USA – thousands of miles away from London. Both Harry and William and their families now live on both sides of the Atlantic with 10 hours’ time difference.
In a CNN interview, Ed Owens, a Royal Historian, said the relationship between Harry and Williams has become strained. Rift between siblings – especially when wives are involved – can be wrong-headed and deeply emotional. It happens all the time and when the emotions and accompanying pains become difficult to manage, the siblings lose their senses and fight to the finish.
William and Harry are two brothers who have always been very close since their childhood days. This may be due to the circumstances of their mother’s failed marriage to Charles, the Prince of Wales and heir apparent to the British throne. Prince William is clearly not happy with the turn of events when he remarked that the Harry-Meghan kiss-and-tell interview was “beyond explosive!”
Diana, their mother, was the Princess of Wales, first wife of Prince Charles and member of the British Royal Family. Famously regarded as the “People’s Princes” because of her popularity and global humanitarian efforts, Princess Diana divorced William and Harry’s father in 1996 and moved on with her life. She died under controversial circumstances from injuries sustained in a car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997.
Harry feels strongly that history is only repeating itself when Meghan’s story is compared to her mother’s experience. Events leading to Princess Diana’s divorce showed that she was very unhappy in her marriage to Prince Charles; it can be argued that she was more or less forced out of the royal family. By the time she started a new relationship, the British media feasted on her like bees to a honey pot.
When Buckingham Palace said in a press statement that “recollections may vary,” Princess Diana’s story immediately comes to mind and we can cross reference Harry’s comment that history was only repeating itself. It is difficult for those memories to fade in Harry and Meghan’s minds and the monarchy is hard put to defend its public image when the revelations in the interview are viewed against the backdrop of Princess Diana’s traumatising experience.
If Meghan whom the whole world knew was bi-racial was “accepted” by the royal family when she married Harry, why should the birth of Archie create an alternative reality for her? Was she truly accepted by the family? Some commentators disagree. “I don’t think Meghan was accepted from the beginning and, as such, there should be no surprise about what happened behind closed doors,” a respondent said.
“I admire Harry for standing by her at the risk of losing his entire family, leaving his home and friends behind. I must say Harry took a big risk. If the marriage fails, he will not be able to live by himself; that will be history repeating itself, knowing what happened to his mother and how she was badly treated.
“Princess Diana was not supported by Prince Charles, and although Diana did not experience race baiting like Meghan, they were both not accepted by the royal family leading to unhappiness and depression. I believe both women are strong and must be admired for finding happiness outside the royal family. Unfortunately, the situation Princess Diana found herself may have led to her untimely death but I’m sure Meghan admire her for finding happiness elsewhere,” concluded my respondent.
Apparently, Meghan had always worried about the future of her son in the royal family because of his colour and she expressed those fears during the interview. Even Oprah Winfrey, the interviewer, could not hide her shock over the allegations. Meghan has a point when she also alleged that the royal family did not stand up for her when the British media descended on her with negative reports that projected her as an interloper because of her bi-racial background.
Even before the interview, there were putative attempts by the royal family to smear Harry and Meghan. The fact that they were highlighting allegations from 2018 against the couple was also an indication of their concern. In truth, the royal family has been complicit in a lot of what has happened to Harry and Meghan over the last three years. The interview was just the tipping point and that is what happens when you push people too far.
The palace will deny allegations of any wrong doing but it will serve no purpose. My view is that the highly revered British royal institution should not be thrashed by anyone. However, healing can only take place when we put all the facts on the table. Clearly, the interview cast the royal family in an unfavourable light including allegations that the royal family constantly indulged in petty acts designed to destroy their marriage.
Why did the palace not worry about Meghan’s mental health based on her story? Even the issues between Meghan and Catherine, wife of Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge, were also largely misrepresented by the British media. Having given up royal duties and with their backs against the wall, the explosive interview turned out to be their “appropriate” response and “payback” time.
Harry and Megan have every right to express their views and feelings as they did during the interview. However, the people who survive tough times, according to Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882), the renowned British naturalist best known for his contributions to the science of evolution, are not the most intelligent or the strongest but those who are most adaptable to change. Meghan needs to adapt to changes taking place around her including accepting the faults of her dad. As the British monarchy tries to settle the rift, an investigation into the damaging allegations will be helpful.
But if we rely on family and royal traditions, it would appear that Harry and Meghan exaggerated their circumstances. When families have their quarrels and disputes, more often than not, the issues are resolved and I fully subscribe to the idea that the Palace is encouraging back channel conversations.
There is enough evidence to suggest that Harry and Meghan are in love and they are happy together. To the best of my knowledge, that is the wish of every family but the story out there is that Meghan has “taken” Harry away from his family. Make no mistake about it, family ties and bonds are usually very strong. After all, “blood is thicker than water”, so do not be surprised if Harry and Meghan rejoin the royal family in the future.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex should clam down and seek a path forward for genuine reconciliation. Prince William should work hard at uniting with his brother so that the royal family does not become a harbinger of disagreements and quarrels that last forever.
As Ed Owns told CNN, both William and Harry have different visions of the monarchy. The starting point of their reconciliation is finding a common ground and harmonising their positions. Meghan too has a lot of work to do with ever supportive Harry at her side. There are standard protocols to be observed when you marry into royalty, and she must understand that she cannot eat her cake and have it.
May I also add that Meghan should reconcile with her old man by setting aside all the differences between them. May God’s love unite the entire British royal family.
–Braimah is the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Naija Times (https://naijatimes.ng)