Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Left the Royal Family, and Took All the Drama With Them
Chris Jackson / Getty
Could it really be that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry were full-time members of the royal family around this time last year, all eager to live their lives of duty and decency in a house on Queen Windsor's estate?
Coronavirus-induced lockdowns played a prank on our temporal perception, but it seems pretty extraordinary that Harry and Meghan didn't hit the button until Jan 8, 2020 to go live on a bombing website announcing their intent To "take a step back" from royal life and shed light on the contact paper on the greatest crisis that besieged the House of Windsor since the death of Princess Diana in 1997.
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In the book Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family, which came out in August, it was revealed that the couple gave the Queen's office just 10 minutes notice that they would publish their plans. They understandably felt that they needed to open their side of the story to the public in order to prevent the monarchy's weirdos from controlling the narrative of their plans to leave royal duties on the front lines.
If Meghan Markle and Prince Harry didn't want to "find freedom", who would?
Immediately Meghan was cast by xenophobic, racist and sexist elements in the UK media and establishment as the cause of the problems. The affair has been dubbed "Megxit" and lazy comparisons have been made between Meghan and another American who did not silence the establishment, Wallis Simpson.
Over the course of that year, it turned out that it was Harry who drove the project of leaving royal life. Meghan, when she did something, just gave Harry the courage to act on his beliefs.
There's likely no way Harry and Meghan's divorce from the monarchy could ever have been amicable, but the website left the courtiers in horror.
The palace was prompted by its publication to make its own brief statement, which was riddled with disapproval: "We understand your desire to take a different approach, but these are complex issues that will take time to deal with."
A raging briefing war ensued, and by January 10, Meghan and Archie had fled to Canada and the remote lakeside mansion in the wilderness of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, where they had been since November for their own Plan and put the finishing touches on this bomb site.
On January 13th, Harry sat with his father and grandmother on the so-called Sandringham Summit. Thereafter, the Queen made it clear in a public statement that she wanted the situation to be resolved in "days".
Resolution implies compromise, but there was none of that; The Queen showed her ruthless lead, dismissing Harry and Meghan's efforts to continue reducing formal public royal roles while she was free to make her own money.
Harry and Meghan's plan, as detailed on that first website, was quickly brought into contact.
They gained their independence, but the price was total. They got none of what they wanted; They have been directed not to use their HRH titles, they have been stripped of their royal appointments and associations, Harry has been removed from his military roles, and they have been told they will have to pay for their own safety. The Queen even ordered them not to use the word "royal" to describe themselves when they went to rent.
This was a bitter blow for Meghan and Harry, because their esteemed Instagram account with 11 million followers was entitled "Sussex Royal". It would close on the last day of March, the last official day of Harry and Meghan as working royals.
On Monday March 9, Meghan and Harry made their final appearances as full members of the Royal Family with the Commonwealth Service in London.
Any hope that this would be an opportunity for healing or that one side would use the event to build bridges with the other was dashed when Harry and Meghan were not included in the procession of the official program.
In this case, William and Kate decided to skip the procession as well, so as not to humiliate Meghan and Harry. Unfortunately, that dignified front could not be sustained, and in a childish display of royal pettiness, Kate and William ignored Meghan and Harry and shouldered them coldly as they tried to have small talk in the pews before the service.
It was a desperately sad ending to what had promised to be a whole new iteration of the royal tale. No wonder Meghan said angrily to a friend after the service: “I gave up my whole life for this family. I was ready to do whatever it takes. "
The next day, Meghan tearfully said goodbye to her staff at Buckingham Palace and boarded a plane back to Canada.
A few days later, Harry joined her.
At the Commonwealth Day service, Harry had poked an elbow instead of shaking hands, and Prince Charles pressed his finger in the Namaste gesture, but no one was wearing a mask. The coronavirus was still a novelty, something that happened to other people.
Three weeks later, on March 31st, the day they officially stopped working royals, the coronavirus hit the planet.
Harry and Meghan wisely decided that discretion was the bulk of bravery, and overruled plans to create their new Archewell Foundation.
A few weeks earlier, just hours before Canada and America closed their borders on March 18, a private jet had lifted Harry, Meghan and Archie into the sky over British Columbia and made their way south to Los Angeles, where Harry and his family settled at home for the next several months in a mansion owned by their contact, Tyler Perry.
The mansion was spectacular and luxurious on paper, but the reality was that Meghan and Harry had a miserable time there because of a public walking path next to the house from which paparazzi photographers launched dozen and dozen drone sorties against the family. Intrusive photos were taken and shopped around the world, although the senseless cruelty of the photographers' activities was exposed by the fact that none of the illegally obtained images were purchased.
Meghan was probably pregnant most of the time they spent with Perry.
In early July, the family moved to Montecito, where Meghan had a miscarriage. It wasn't until the day before Thanksgiving that Meghan revealed her miscarriage in a moving and powerful comment for the New York Times.
Despite this personal tragedy, Meghan and Harry continued to advocate a range of community concerns and also participated in some high profile public appearances where food was distributed to communities affected by the pandemic.
As noble as the work was, the pandemic blew Harry and Meghan's commercial plans out of the water.
The plan to quickly wind up some high-income deals turned to dust, and in case just one speech (in front of a crowd of J.P. Morgan investment bankers) was given in all of 2020.
The fact that the couple made $ 1 million shows how important speeches and personal appearances would have been to the couple, who now have huge monthly expenses as they have to pay for their own safety.
The pandemic, of course, didn't fully implement their plans: Netflix signed them on a production contract that was widely reported to be worth $ 100 million.
Given that the productions announced so far include an animated series about inspiring women, one wonders whether these two idealists can really make it as producers of lucrative television shows.
However, the deal was undoubtedly a coup for Netflix, which gave its big show The Crown, whose controversial fourth season came out in November 2020, a halo. On December 15, Meghan and Harry announced that they had signed a deal with Netflix and Spotify to carry a new podcast from them. The terms are not yet known for now, but they are believed to have raised another $ 30 million or so.
For the rest of the royals, like most of us, 2020 was a year that, oddly enough, was eventful and uneventful at the same time as everything was canceled.
Prince Andrew's scandalous association with the dead pedophile Jeffrey Epstein meant that he was excluded from higher royal duties. He hopes this won't be permanent, but most observers believe that any hope of restoring his reputation is doomed until he works with American authorities.
Because of the coronavirus, there have been no tours, no pushing the flesh, none of the fun, unwritten moments that the royals actually bring to life - just many, many increasingly boring zoom calls. Like the rest of us, they were stuck at home with nothing to do, except, as Kate memorably put it in an interview, to pitch a tent in the garden for the children and then take it down again.
Prince Charles and Prince William both contracted coronavirus, but while Charles publicly revealed his diagnosis, William kept his secret. It wasn't revealed until a few months later when he announced he had it at a meet and greet.
The Queen and Prince Philip isolated themselves at Windsor Castle for several months and are said to have enjoyed spending a few rare months exclusively in each other's company. It's a wonderful silver lining of the terrible pandemic year as she is 94 years old and he is 99 years old.
Hopeful preparations are now being made for next June, when Prince Philip turns 100. If he stays in good health and the vaccines put down the coronavirus threat, this should be a damn good party.
The royals would do well to roll out the red carpet for Harry, Meghan and Archie - and leave the 2020 disaster behind.
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