It is often said that the Monarchy is a representation of British society. One of the ways they have managed to survive is by re-branding themselves to appeal to the mood of the country. In 1914, strong anti-German sentiments within Britain caused sensitivity among the royal family about its German roots and so in 1917, King George VI decreed the royal surname change from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor. When Harry met a mixed-race American woman, the royal family saw another opportunity to rebrand themselves as a modern monarchy, representing multi-cultural Britain, one that is diverse and inclusive, especially in light of Brexit, and they had the headlines to prove it. Or maybe, others saw it for them.
The institution basked in the publicity of Harry and Meghan’s nuptials and was eager to accrue the benefits that come with being diverse and inclusive. Like many organisations today, it appears that the diversity is only in name and hardly backed up by the organizational structures. Meghan became the token black person giving the monarchy the appearance of being open and inclusive. Many black and brown people encounter this phenomenon on a daily basis in their work spaces and is the reason why very quickly, the overt and covert racism in Meghan’s coverage by the media was called out. It was like a transplant of personal experiences for many.
Just like the charity work the royal family uses to justify their existence and continual draw on millions of pounds from the public purse, openness and inclusivity was a ‘sham’. There was never any intention to do the work that comes with being a diverse and inclusive institution. There is hardly any diversity in the royal household, and it appears they were sorely lacking cultural competency as an organization. How is that that, being clear and direct about work expectations is somehow seen as confrontational?
It really is quite puzzling considering that, this is an institution that has realms outside of the UK, and attempts to wield some influence via its leadership of the commonwealth. What does it really say, that the royal household was simply incapable of accommodating a bi-racial woman- a highly productive one too. Or maybe they just refused to make room for her. Black and brown Commonwealth natives should be questioning why they are okay to be counted in the umbrella of influence of Britain and its monarchy, but are not quite welcome into the corridors of leadership.
Further, the Royal Rota that covers the activities of this institution is also quite homogeneous. It is the reason why so-called journalists use problematic language without a second thought. There is no diversity of background, thought or experience, and as a result, you have a group of people sharing information from a narrow, uninformed perspective. Unsurprisingly, you do end up with fluffy superficial and gossipy nonsense, packaged as news. If you’ve read their cover stories of engagements, you will see that for the most part, there are just a handful who are capable of capturing the depth and substance of some important work that a few of the royals do.
Harry and Meghan do not see it as enough to simply show up for public engagements, shake hands and say a couple of words before returning to their privileged lives. They have a demonstrable commitment to using their position to bring about change for the issues they care about, a concept that is not entirely foreign to the royal family when you consider Prince Charles’ many years of activism. It appears that, they did not anticipate Meghan to excel in her ‘royal’ role and to remain committed to using her platform for good. Here was a woman, a working royal, who within a short span of 18 months was able to deliver solid impactful projects, in addition to the run of the mill royal fare.
Together with her husband, they ushered in an approachable way of ‘royaling’ that appealed to many, thus drawing more eyes onto the institution. On social media, it was quite common to see tweets from some self-described republicans, expressing a level of personal conflict because they found themselves liking a royal. There is something to be said for the ‘traditional’ way the royals like to do things. Whether it’s for comfort or identification, it’s all well and good. If the monarchy is so concerned with popularity -which appears to be the driving force behind all the scheming and cut throat dealings- It is unfathomable, that they actively drove away assets that extended their reach across demographic, generational and geographic landscapes.
They say a rising tide lifts all boats. Because of the interest in Harry and Meghan, networks in America were covering their engagements, and it wasn’t uncommon for producers to tag other royal family members’ activities to these Sussex reports on Good Morning America or Today Show on NBC for instance. Outside of major events like weddings or births, American media would never have reported on typical royal engagements. The appetite for that simply didn’t exist.
“The problem with these two(Harry& Meghan) is that they want to do, rather than to be”. Tim Shipman
Rather than embrace the positive public response, the institution instead royally screws itself on behalf of some fragile egos. As Tim Shipman put it, “The problem with these two(Harry& Meghan) is that they want to do, rather than to be”. I think this sums it up perfectly. Being royal is a carefully crafted PR game – a public image created by media hype men and women in which they appear to be doing charity work, but mostly delivering zero impact all while being fiercely protected from public scrutiny; as one person put in on Twitter – ‘Britain’s favourite Ponzi Scheme’. The monarchists are quite happy to pay for the performance, and now they are left with the royals they deserve.
In October 2018 when the smear campaign against Meghan kicked off, Robert Jobson reported that William “is extremely competitive with members of his family when it comes to media coverage and was especially salty about Meghan and Harry’s appearance in Cardiff in January”. The fact that Harry and Meghan were getting a lot of the media coverage bothered William and his court headed by Simon Case. It was after he joined the team that the tone of coverage around Meghan changed. The agenda was simple; anything Harry and Meghan was given a negative spin, period. Facts be damned, double standards be damned. Remember Simon Case was the man behind Will and Kate’s budget flight publicity stunt.
In an attempt to discredit the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and turn the public against them, the team at Kensington Palace worked with the UK media and their global counterparts to launch a smear campaign with the Duchess as their primary target. With total palace backing, the media were emboldened to print lies, ridicule and undermine Meghan’s initiatives, invade the couple’s privacy, bribe former friends and colleagues of Meghan to malign her character. As recently released court documents show, Kensington palace denied Meghan the right to reply to anything written about her, a directive that was extended to those closest to her. At the same time, all her paternal relatives were free to appear on and be compensated by UK networks, to say the most disparaging things about her unchallenged.
The media with support of the palace used everything they had against the couple. Byline Investigates, captured the whole operation well in their article titled Why Harry and Meghan Move is Really About Dishonest Journalism writing in part that the media are “flogging racist and misogynist myth of a ‘difficult’, mixed-race American woman preying on a vulnerable prince”.
There was clearly a pattern of bullying and harassment driven by jealousy at play, which in part involved constant briefings about the couple by palace officials, the most prominent being their plan to step back as senior royals. This particular case may develop legal legs RE Prince Harry and the Sun newspaper. It is alleged that the SUN paid the partner of a royal aide Christian Jones, who still works in the court of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, for sensitive briefings. This leak followed a pattern of behaviour on the part of palace officials who constantly sold stories to the media, many of which later on turned out to be false. The media went ahead and printed them knowing there would be no repercussions because the palace had taken away from the couple the right to push-back under the selectively applied royal practice “don’t complain, don’t explain”.
Amidst the lies, leaks and constant negative briefings the royal family sent Harry and Meghan out on public engagements and royal tours expecting them to work with the very same people that dedicated column inches and airtime to abusing and tormenting them. This created a toxic workplace and there was no attempt by the royal family to remedy the situation that was taking a serious toll on the couple’s mental health. I don’t know anyone who would love to work perpetually in such a toxic environment.
When Harry and Meghan made their future plans public one of the conditions put forward was very simple. They no longer wished participate in the Royal Rota, as it currently operates. Members of the rota get a front seat to all events and are expected to share information with journalists outside the rota. If the rota put their own spin on events, how can we expect to get fair reporting? I would argue that this monopoly is what has emboldened them to sacrifice their integrity for propaganda. As a result, we see foreign media quoting these same problematic reporters and inviting some as experts on panels.
Contrary to media( read Royal Rota) reports that Harry and Meghan’s refusal to participate in the rota system was done to avoid media scrutiny, the couple wished to bring more transparency to their work by giving access to a more diversified media pool, subject matter journalists and media organisations that don’t have a quid-pro-quo relationship with the House of Windsor and in doing so subjecting themselves to even greater scrutiny. They understood that in choosing not to work with the Royal Rota, they would need to give up public funding, hence the need to pursue financial independence like some other current members within the family.
In the end their requests were denied and there has been a clean break. It has turned out to be a blessing because there are no bothersome entanglements with an institution that is invested in their sabotage. They were eager to use them as a foil – to distract the public when those within the family were alleged to have cheated on their spouses, had sex with underage girls or misappropriated charity funds. And then trot them out on public engagements, royal tours or to generate positive sentiment within the Commonwealth.
Meghan’s treatment at the hands of the establishment was dehumanising; she was commoditised, made into a thing to be used and abused by the powerful forces that pursued her mother-in-law to her death. That is why her husband, Prince Harry made the decision to step back as a senior working royal and move his family to another continent. It was always going to be untenable, based on the institution’s stance with the couple. When they failed to defend Archie from racist abuse, it telegraphed the story. Harry’s slightly tinged family will never be protected.
To protect them and avoid the same fate that led to his mother’s untimely death, they have rightly and wisely removed themselves from that destructive environment.
For once, we have a Windsor who is actually taking his marriage vow before God seriously. He swore to love and protect. He’s doing exactly that, and now they’re home – their own home. May love, peace and prosperity abound wherever they are.