When Harry Met Meghan – Epilogue

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As the world churns (yes, that’s a hopeless TV reference; get used to it!) with airplanes falling out of the sky, impeachment hearings, Putin seriously off the rails and polar bears poaching in the sun, the big news across the globe is what’s going to happen to Harry and Meghan.

Disclaimer:  I am a hopeless monarchist, and I’ve always been in Harry’s corner (even when he dressed up as a Nazi) so it’s more in sadness than anger that I lampoon this two-ring circus.

Apparently, Harry, the Englishman formerly known as a Prince and Ms. Markle (former “briefcase girl” on Deal or No Deal) don’t want to be royals anymore.  It’s just too difficult for them.  This intolerable situation has caused them to seriously reflect on their role as A-listers on the world’s media stage.  They want to “take a step back” from the drudgery of photo-ops and ribbon cuttings.  They want to find their own “financial independence.”  And they want a chance at “a normal life.”  Not to worry though: they’re not going to give up being the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (they’re currently trademarking that brand.)  They just don’t wanna waste their time on the royal responsibilities that come with the title.  In “normal life” terms, what that means is “Okay, when grandma’s dishing out the cookies, let us know, but we’re not going to hang around and help her clean the oven.”

For the last couple of years, the world has been fascinated by the Harry and Meghan Royal-ity TV series (Season 1 – The Wedding, Season 2 – Here Comes Archie) but so far in Season 3, the story arc has gone a little flat.  After all, Harry’s not the heir; he’s the spare, so there’s not a whole lot of drama there.  And Archie’s cute and all that, but a 7th in line cousin is not necessarily tabloid news.  Meanwhile, Meghan’s media presence has disappeared entirely.  Even the bitchy stuff isn’t getting much ink these days.  The truth is Harry and Meghan might impress the likes of Oprah Winfrey and George Clooney (Ya gotta ask, though, would they have showed up at the wedding of second banana TV star, Meghan Markle, if it wasn’t for Harry?) but in the rare air of royal affairs, it’s William and Kate who carry the big stick.  From here on, Harry and Meghan are going to be trotted out for Ascot, hospital openings in Sheffield, Eastern European funerals and that’s about it.  They may have decided to “take a step back” from the limelight, but the reality is it’s already getting pretty dim.

I don’t actually care if Harry and Meghan trash it all and open a bed and breakfast on Vancouver Island.  Knock yourself out.  But what the hell does ‘a normal life” look like to someone who’s negotiating with two national governments, Canada and Britain, to figure out which one is going to pay for the bodyguards?  I don’t care how you slice the Gateau des Rois, that’s not “normal.’  Here’s the deal.  Harry’s accident of royal birth and more importantly, Meghan’s accident of royal marriage have given them both a ton of advantages that they can’t ever switch off.  If they don’t understand that, they’re totally out of touch with the real world.  If they do understand it, this latest semi-royal proclamation is simply grandstanding.  Personally, I think it’s a little bit of both.

Happy Birthday, Queen Victoria!

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Today is Queen Victoria’s 200th birthday!  For those of you who are unfamiliar, Queen Victoria is William and Harry’s great-great-great-great-grandmother.  She reigned in Britain when Britain ruled the world.  She was the most influential woman of her time (by a nautical mile) and therefore has been both loved and hated by history.  Currently, thanks to PBS and Judy Dench, she’s enjoying a personal renaissance, and some have even bestowed upon her the saintly title of early feminist.  However, I’m old enough to remember a time when she was considered the embodiment of every uptight, sexually repressed, socially regressed, narrow-minded, bigoted, colonial attitude that was wrong with our world.  In fact, not so many years ago, calling someone “a Victorian” was an insult.  Popular culture is history’s master, and even though history does not change, the people who write about it do – regularly.

The truth is, there is no one verifiable truth about Queen Victoria.  At various times during her reign, she was both adored and scorned, lauded and mercilessly lampooned.  She was frequently cheered in the streets but also survived 8 assassination attempts.  As a constitutional monarch, she had no legitimate power, yet through her ministers and her family, she influenced events in Britain, Europe and around the world for over half a century.  It isn’t called the Victorian Age for nothing!

The reason our appreciation of Queen Victoria gyrates so wildly is that our world prefers simple, expedient answers.  We don’t like nuances and generally resort to: good people do good things; bad people are sinister and “never the twain shall meet.”  Unfortunately, Queen Victoria doesn’t fit into that neat package.  She used her influence and the British navy to fight the slave trade, yet believed it was Britain’s God-given duty to colonize and civilize the world.  She encouraged legislation that successively gave women better education and employment opportunities, property ownership and even divorce and child custody rights; yet she believed gender equality was “a mad, wicked folly.”  She supported the Reform Act that extended the vote to most working men — even though it eroded her royal power.  She rode on a railway when it was still considered dangerous.  She used chloroform in childbirth when religious leaders were preaching that it was against God’s will.  She was an early advocate of the telegraph, photography and, in later years, the telephone and electric lighting.  Yet, despite her great admiration for science, she still believed she was Queen by “divine providence.”  And even though she was the secular head of the Church of England, she employed Protestants, Catholics, Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims in the Royal Household, and, for years, stubbornly campaigned for (and eventually achieved) religious freedom throughout the British Empire.

In contemporary times, we have the luxury of hindsight and the leisure to judge, and we’ve judged Queen Victoria rather harshly.  Generally, she’s still seen as the reigning queen of a nasty world of Dead Europeans who, by their thoughts, words and deeds, were sinister.  Actually, history isn’t that tidy.  The truth is Queen Victoria was neither a pioneering feminist nor a blood-spattered imperialist; she was simply a person of her time.  She did the best she could with what she had to work with — and it takes a lot of arrogance to criticize anybody for that.

 

When Harry Met Meghan (FINAL)

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The Royal Wedding is over, but there’s still time to indulge in that fine old international tradition: Making Fun of the Royals.  This has been going on for centuries.  In Colonial America, the newspapers were full of cartoons about George III, and I can’t even print what the French had to say about Henry V!  So, since I’m beginning to think my invitation to the wedding didn’t get lost in the mail, and since this is going to be the last biggie royal wedding for a while (Prince George is only 4) here are a few catty remarks about the Royal Nuptials.  If you watched the solid walls of media coverage, you’ll recognize the participants; but if you didn’t, don’t worry: they’re all the usual suspects.

It was a beautiful spring day in Windsor, and most of the hats looked as if their sole purpose was to confuse the pigeon population.  Meanwhile, many of fascinators had obviously been designed to pick up Wi-Fi so that the various plus-ones could watch the FA Cup final during the ceremony. (FYI: Chelsea-1 — Man U-0)

Oprah Winfrey’s sack was a last-minute design by Stella McCartney and was securely cinched in the middle to prevent the heavy bits from shifting.

Sir Elton continued to break gay stereotypes by showing up in his one good outfit — again.

Whichever Williams sister it was, walked in as if she was looking for a fight.

Patrick J. Adams, Meghan Markle’s former co-star on Suits appropriately wore — a suit.

Thoughtfully, Princess Michael of Kent didn’t wear any jewelry.  (Google it!)

Victoria (Posh Spice) Beckham got confused and thought she was going to a funeral.

It’s a pretty safe bet that Pippa (Middleton) Matthews, was told to keep her scene-stealing ass in line this time.  So, rather than risk Royal censure, she came dressed as a can of Arizona Ice Tea. (You can Google this one, too.)

George and Amal Clooney spent most of the day looking utterly bewildered that nobody gave a damn whether they were there or not.

Ben Mulroney did a wonderful impression of a discount Justin Trudeau.

Harry’s ex, Cressida Bonas and Abigail Spencer (no relation to the real ones) clearly shop at the same store: Tesco.

Princess Anne went for either cultural diversity or cultural appropriation by wearing a kimono, but nobody was brave enough to call her on it.

Surprise!  Surprise!  Surprise!  Sarah Ferguson (Fergie) Duchess of York was invited, but Prince Philip made her sit in the corner.

And speaking of Prince Philip, this guy is officially the toughest old bugger in the Commonwealth!  He’s 96 years old, fresh off  hip surgery, and yet he got out of the car and marched into Windsor Chapel as if his wife owned the place.  The man is made entirely of gristle.

And finally:

That low-level whirring sound everybody heard throughout the ceremony was Edward VIII, spinning in his grave, muttering, “American divorcee, my ass!”

Disclaimer:  This is satire.  In fact, I’m actually a hopeless monarchist and I love all the trappings that go with it.  It’s the simpy/sappy media coverage I object to.