The British Royal Family Have a Family Problem.
1 Cor 12:20 As it is, there are many parts. But there is only one body.
Unless you have been hibernating under a rock, you more than likely have heard that Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex and his wife Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex announced on January 8th 2020, their decision to step back from full-time senior royal duties. Since then, and following what was billed as the Sandringham summit, it was agreed that for the Sussexes to pursue an independent charitable and financial life, not beholding to “the British taxpayer” via the Sovereign grant, they would have to step back from all official royal duties.
This is in short how Britain, particularly its media, seemed to go off the deep end. Never mind that in the six month to one year period that preceded the announcement, the media had both insidiously and blatantly questioned the usefulness of the couple to the monarchy. They did all except hire a moving truck. All hell broke loose as it were, and the public responded with expressions of everything from indignation, resentment to sadness, relief, joy and every shade in between. Naturally, a spirited and at times downright nasty debate has ensued, attempting to define the causes or precipitating factors and with whom or where the blame resides.
To simplify, the British media, the royal family and the couple themselves, with varying combinations have been blamed. My opinion however is that we should look no further than the royal family; the institution itself. Before your blood pressure shoots through the roof, the media is in no way excused- their unethical, unprofessional and blatantly biased behavior as it relates to the Sussexes is well documented, indisputable and indelible, actually. My argument is that, it is secondary to, born out of and even emboldened by the royal family’s own agenda.
The British Royal Family Have a Family Problem
The British royal family has employed a decades old playbook that was meant to boost the heir for the good of the monarchy. With any foresight, it should have been predicted to become the full blown auto-immune disease, that is literally and figuratively now taking the family and institution apart, organ by organ, piece by piece. Over the years, there have been examples aplenty, but the lessons have been discounted and the bad behavior perpetuated.
1Cor 12:12 There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ. 13 We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body. It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink. 14 So the body is not made up of just one part. It has many parts.
In 1936, the trajectories of the lives of 10 year old Princess Elizabeth and her 6 year old sister Margaret, were dramatically altered when their father unexpectedly ascended the throne to become king George VI, following the abdication of their Uncle King Edward VIII. It is reported that once Princess Elizabeth became the apparent heir to the throne, she started to receive an education in history and government, separate from Princess Margaret. The education was deemed unnecessary for Margaret because she was not the heir, and rather given an education in music and dance. I’m sure there were practical reasons for this at the time but I wonder, considering their unexpected thrust into the line of succession, and given that Princess Margaret was expected to assume some royal duties in the future, why it was deemed unnecessary for her to have an education that would equip her for that.
I can appreciate the need to focus resources on preparing the heir for what would undoubtedly become a monumental role as a future monarch. No stone can be left unturned. This convention though, seems to have morphed into somewhat of a destructive force, where it is no longer acceptable for anyone other than the heirs to have prominence. This in my mind has created an artificial competition among kinfolk and the toxic dynamic that sees various courts jockeying for position. It’s a really weird phenomenon to behold, in a family or institution, the destiny of whose members is all but certain by birth, barring catastrophe. God forbid. Why are they so consumed by popularity which has no bearing on succession that, non-heirs have to be ‘cut down to size’?
Isn’t it obvious that the practice is antithetical to the whole premise of a hereditary monarchy? If everyone around the heir must be reduced in order for the heir to be able to stand tall, wouldn’t that be admission that there is nothing special about the heir that makes him/her worthy to occupy the throne? Isn’t the whole idea of the royal family one that is superior, chosen, set apart for the throne by virtue of their bloodline? Why is that distinction not enough?
George VI, as a result of what has been described as difficult childhood experiences, is said to have had a profound lack of confidence, which was compounded by his severe stammer.When it unexpectedly fell to him to ascend the throne, he was understandably reluctant. However he summoned all his determination and fight, with the deep support of his wife and speech therapist to overcome his speech impediment and rise to the occasion of the most moving address to his subjects in the time of war, as dramatized in The King’s Speech. That is the stuff kings are made of. All the coddling that goes on with the heirs now, ends up making them look weak and deficient as the implicit assumption is that, their birthright does not confer enough substance to fill the position. I don’t know why anybody thinks that’s a smart idea.
1 Cor 12:15 Suppose the foot says, “I am not a hand. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 16 And suppose the ear says, “I am not an eye. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If the whole body were an ear, how could it smell? 18 God has placed each part in the body just as he wanted it to be. 19 If all the parts were the same, how could there be a body?
Since they were young, it’s been well documented that the royal family focused more on William as the heir, to the exclusion of Harry. It was such that their mother Diana felt she had to pay extra attention to Harry so he didn’t feel left out. The family have always defined for itself and thus the world who take their cues from them, which members are of value and which ones are dispensable. Through their teen years, there was a one-sided focus on airing Prince Harry’s dirty laundry in the media, framing him as a wayward problem child, making him the foil to the manufactured squeaky clean image of his brother the “desirable” heir. Again, tell me why any serious organization that is so consumed with, and defined by its image will go through the trouble to make it known, and sometimes inaccurately, that they have defective specimens.
This is reminiscent of a similar narrative about the then Princess Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret. Prince Charles was intensely jealous of the attention Princess Diana received, and so the establishment set about defining her as a trouble maker, a rabble-rouser of sorts. The courtiers, who see themselves as guardians of the establishment, often brief against other members of the family for the benefit of the chosen one. So pervasive and disturbing to the extent that Prince Charles’ court reportedly put out negative information about his own sons to the media, for the benefit of improving his personal profile. It continues today, when members of his communications team openly like negative stories about Meghan on social media.
In the last two to three years we have seen a coordinated and concerted effort to paint Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan in the most negative light. Tim Shipman in his Easter 2019 article, basically laid out Prince William’s jealousy of the attention Harry and Meghan were getting and his and his courtiers’ outreach to media executives to help change that dynamic. His court has leaked endless stories about the Sussexes to their preferred media mouthpieces and when his brother Harry has been at the receiving end of the media’s assault, William has not missed an opportunity to drive in the last nail. Remember his flybe commercial flight stunt to really prove what an ‘Eco-hypocrite” Harry is? Or him insinuating mental instability or frailty in his brother following the south Africa documentary?
Most recently, following the formal agreement for the Sussexes’ withdrawal from official royal duties, even though the terms were defined, for some reason, the Sussexes were not at liberty to disclose them. What we got instead were strategic drips of carefully packaged “exclusives” from the usual suspects in the royal rota that misrepresented or at best, told half the story. All of which of course had a negative slant, designed to villainize the Sussexes. So yes, the media are unethical, they traffic in propaganda and clearly have an agenda. Their duty to be accurate, fair and unbiased miserably falls short. But for now, its par for the course. Their mandate is from within palace walls and they are going to exploit it for every single penny to be had. They will not stop until the House of Windsor sets a new agenda. For years it has been open season on the spares and the Windsors’ weapon of choice has been the media.
If the institution deems it so crucial for the heir apparent to be spotless and have the highest profile, then I’m not even sure what the point or utility of a spare (one kept in reserve) is to the institution, if they themselves are going to damage the reserve. It makes no sense from an organizational or operational perspective. Indeed, if the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? The brain is the command center of the body, yet it is not visible to the naked eye. With all its power and complexity, it depends in the heart to pump sustenance to it by way of blood. It is so for a reason. Every part has a role to play. If the supporting cast do well, the monarch fares well too.
The simple facts are that, this current generation is defined by dreamers, doers and strivers, working to build something for themselves and their families. All over the world, you see them in academia, technology, sports, fashion, social media, science, entrepreneurship etc. There is no appreciation for saboteurs and impeders. If William thinks that erasing his brother image is how he will create his own, I’m sorry to say, the global attention and adoration he desperately desires will elude him. Instead he will find contempt; a sorry state for any leader.
1 Cor 12:21 The eye can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 In fact, it is just the opposite. The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are the ones we can’t do without. 23 The parts that we think are less important we treat with special honor. The private parts aren’t shown. But they are treated with special care. 24 The parts that can be shown don’t need special care. But God has put together all the parts of the body. And he has given more honor to the parts that didn’t have any. 25 In that way, the parts of the body will not take sides. All of them will take care of one another. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part shares in its joy.
For an institution that primarily identifies as a family, it is a poor representation of one. Is the monarch, the head of the family, also not the head of the church of England? Does the good book not say that we are all created in the image of God? Why does the monarch preside over an institution that seems to condone and sometimes participate in the devaluation of another human being? It has been quite disappointing to observe. This family certainly has not taken care of ALL its members. It is not for the lack of will or resources.
They had the wherewithal to deny that the Duchess of Cambridge uses Botox, when even Bartimaeus of Jericho could clearly see her wrinkles before they magically disappeared. It’s not life or death. People age. In the last year in particular, we have seen the royal family employ every method in the book to preserve the “dignity” of a Prince accused of sexual crimes against a minor child, who while claiming innocence, is currently playing hooky with the FBI because he and his fat fingers were otherwise occupied at the pizza express and didn’t even break a sweat. It would be funny if it wasn’t so serious.
Not so apparently, for the two day old son of a blood Prince and his mixed race duchess; their nephew and grandson, when he was compared to a chimpanzee or when his mother while pregnant, was repeatedly taunted and harassed simply for cradling her growing belly and literally for her very existence. Are they not human or God’s children too? I wonder what the head of the church of England thinks about that. Where would she draw the line? Maybe there is no red line here because the message that the family does not support the Sussexes has made its way into the public domain without comment or reservation yet, complain and explain they do. It is hard to admonish a stone thrower when you sometimes pick the stones.
When family ceases to be the refuge, and maybe becomes the thorn in your side, one must seek respite elsewhere.
Where will it end though? When is this royal body going to acknowledge its affliction with a malady of its own making? Are they going to pretend all is well while the body slowly fades into a shadow of its former self as part after part is consumed? And who or what part will be next? For the sake of the younger generation of royals, I pray they find some medicine.
In the meantime, I am thankful that Prince Harry is unwilling to sacrifice his family’s well-being. The family for whom he swore a sacred oath to love and protect. So help him God.