THE ROYAL SCANDAL
We could well be on the brink of war with Iran. A Ukrainian passenger plane with 176 people aboard just crashed near Tehran and it’s now believed it was brought down by a SA-15 surface-to-air missile. The entire planet is on the brink of irreversible climate change. Australia is burning. Yet more headlines than I can count have focused on a couple in their thirties who have a new baby and would like to move off his grandmother’s property and shape an independent life based on their own priorities and preferences. Before you say, “Well, Meghan and Harry are Royals and that makes them a news story,” may I ask you to take a step back and widen your focus.
They are also just people whose families harbor the same frictions and messiness that most families do. Maybe you’re from an unusually tight family, and your disagreements have been minor and easily resolved, with no drama and little unpleasantness. Good for you. You’re in the minority. But even an exemplary family would feel the strain of the world looking in and commenting on everything that goes on inside your walls. Being visible to the world and having millions of strangers commenting on how you live your life is surreal and leaves you with a sense of vulnerability and helplessness that few can relate to.
It’s been nearly 40 years since I was a news story because of my anti-nuclear activism in defiance of my father’s policies as president. Our family discord was fodder for the press and a running soap opera for the public. If I let my thoughts return to those years, even after all these decades, I can still feel the slings and arrows. I still feel the prison of visibility that I couldn’t escape. I remember trying to think of where I could run to – New Zealand maybe? Canada? Wherever I went, I would still be the First Daughter and the spotlight would still follow me.
Reportedly, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle thought about moving to Africa. Now they are considering Canada, while still spending some time in Britain. The stories of family strife and upset because of their decision are everywhere and they know full well that the stories will follow them wherever they choose to live. Prince Harry, from the time he was born, has lived life in the public eye. He had to mourn the death of his mother with the world’s eyes looking on. He has tried to find a balance between living his own life and living the public life he was born into. The problem is, there really is no balance between the two. It’s always going to feel off-kilter, no matter what you do.
It seems perfectly understandable to me that he and Meghan would put out a public statement about their plans. Most families discuss things around the dinner table. But if you’re from a public family, the world stage is your dinner table. If they had said nothing and simply relocated, they would still be a headline story.
This might be a plea made in vain, but could we try to simply see them as a young couple with a baby who would like to go out into the world and figure out what feels right for them, separate from the monumental fame of the Royal Family? When weighed against everything else this fragile world is facing right now, it doesn’t seem like a huge request.