Good for her and Harry for giving up.
And yet – it seems that Harry and Meghan are not yet ready to give up all their real advantages. Early Wednesday evening, UK time, the couple issued a statement
announcing its intention 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 ". This seems to have been widely interpreted as an announcement that they were renouncing real life. But they are not.
As the evening progressed, a new website for the couple – www.sussexroyal.com – slowly came to life, with all the marks of hasty copy editing. In a series of statements on their pages, the pair made it clear that they intend to remain "real" patrons of charities, participate in some royal activities and, most important of all, continue to receive money from Harry's father, the prince of Harry. Wales, which in turn receives most of its income from the royal body, the Duchy of Cornwall. Even Sussex themselves
Internet network location recognizes
that they are only waiving 5% of their existing income.
Meanwhile, the Queen's offices at Buckingham Palace have launched a concise answer
stating that nothing had yet been finalized. Harry did not warn either his grandmother, his father or his brother that he would be making that statement. The BBC reported that Buckingham Palace is "disappointed
"- Britspeak for" the queen is livid. "
CNN reports that the queen asked Prince Harry not to release this statement before further negotiations with the royal family, but he ignored her request. It certainly seemed strange to see the Sussex scene. the new website demonstrates its desire to "honor the legacy of Her Majesty the Queen" (a phrase normally used by the monarchs who passed away) when they did not honor her enough to agree on a news dissemination strategy.
American progressives took Meghan and Harry
in your hearts. It's easy to understand why: Meghan clearly experienced visceral racism
since her arrival in England, in which she deserves the support of all. For most of her life, she has also embraced progressive causes, and since marriage, it seems that Harry has, too.
But many British progressives find all of this deeply confusing. In British schools, we are taught to bow to royalty if we are all "lucky" to meet them – because we are born their social inferiors. We need to treat them as "their royal highness", no matter what their merits are as real members of the human race. (Nowhere was the absurdity of this more clear than when BBC interviewer Emily Maitlis closed her recent interview with Prince Andrew, whose friendship with sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein sees him facing highly credible claims of statutory rape: "Your Highness Royal, thank you ".) According to the latest announcement, Meghan and Harry still want to be called" their royal highness "; they will still act as royal patrons; they will still be living in Frogmore home
to which the British taxpayer last year contributed a $ 3 million overhaul.
Maybe it's not your tax money, American reader, but it's mine. Don't expect the British to be thrilled.
The other problem is with Harry. For those of us who have watched him grow up in Britain, he has always been an example of aristocratic masculine excess – specifically, in his approach to race and the environment. This is the boy who, together with Prince William, went to a costume party with the theme "native and colonial". Other guests wore blackface; torment dressed as a Nazi
. As a young army officer, he was filmed
deeply using offensive racial slurs
to refer to a colleague of British-Pakistani heritage.
Like other royals, he seemed to run away from things the rest of us probably wouldn't do. In 2007, the police dropped a case in illegal shooting of two endangered birds
of prey on one of the queen's properties after interviewing Harry and two others who denied killing the birds. The crime could have led to a six-month prison sentence
– the police said they wouldn't charge royalty, but they weren't looking for anyone else. In the previous year, Eton College sorted out
with a former teacher for £ 45,000 after she claimed she had written some of Prince Harry's level A courses. (The court found that this claim could not be substantiated, but confirmed many of his complaints.) Harry denied these charges
cheating and then responded to the incident
, saying, "Maybe it's just part of who I am. I have to deal with this. There are many things people are accused of. Unfortunately, mine are made public."
For a long time, it looked like Harry was everything progressive people hate – a playboy growing up without the threat of consequences.
People change. And it is entirely possible that Meghan – who has fought and written about racism all her life – has opened her husband's eyes to progressive perspectives that were not part of his world before. Having a mixed race child will certainly teach someone about racism. Two neo-Nazis were arrested
last year for terrorism crimes, including propaganda that encouraged an attack on Harry for marrying a mixed race woman. Experiencing this horror would make any prince abandon his racist friends from school.
But it is still difficult for many British progressives to reunite Harry as a champion of a new liberal monarchy. Especially when he and Meghan seem determined to stay with the royal family – but entirely on your own terms
. The Britons struggling to pay their rent laughed a lot when they talked about working for "financial independence", given the significant inheritance they received from their aristocratic mother, Princess Diana, and their great-grandmother, the queen mother. The "Duchy of Cornwall", from which much of the income Prince Charles donates to his children, is an old feudal fiefdom.
Most are from ancient lands, but also include feudal rights such as bona vacantia, meaning that the prince inherits all properties left by commoners who die unwillingly or close relatives. (Prince Charles donates most of this to his favorite charities – which fit his personal projects – but he also uses it to make some "discretionary payments".) And as Duke of Cornwall, Charles is also protected
to pay certain corporate taxes – and is exempt from laws in Cornwall that govern matters such as planning permission
. All of these small tax breaks – taxes that ordinary Britons have to pay – contribute to increasing the funding that will continue to pay for Harry and Meghan's life.
Meanwhile, Charles has set a standard for royalty to favor his own pet causes. His government lobbying to divert public money to homeopathy – for which there is no known scientific evidence – is notorious. So the news that Harry and Meghan have applied for a trademark that would allow them to sell their own branded goods like "Sussex Royal" is not the first instance of royalty using their status to promote a personal cause. But, whether Harry or Charles, there is no social justice in watching members of the royal family exploring their birth accident.
Much has been written in the US about the injustice of British tabloids, focusing attention on violations of Meghan and Harry's etiquette, while Prince Andrew faces credible charges of far more serious crimes. This is entirely correct – although part of the problem is that Britain's harsh defamation laws make it much more difficult to accuse someone of a crime that really matters than to circulate gossip alleging a mere false social pas. The legal risks are greater with Andrew. But British anti-monarchists like me see the culture of royal law that shaped Prince Andrew as the same culture of royal law that shaped young Prince Harry – until Meghan, perhaps, opens his eyes. It is understandable if the two Sussex want to give up. But in order to live up to their values, they must abandon family business altogether. Maybe they could burn the entire building with them.
An earlier version gave Jeffrey Epstein an incorrect name.