I watched all three series of The crown and I loved it. Then my mother, who doesn't have Netflix, came. So over a rainy week in wintry Jerusalem, I watched all 30 hours all over again with my mother. And I loved it all over again. I even changed my avatar on Netflix to the Queen and I've caught myself talking like her too. There's a lot of benefit in sitting straight, keeping your face neutral, and announcing curtly, "so that's settled then," before changing the subject completely. I'm enjoying myself immensely. Although part of the trick is not to be seen to be enjoying oneself. Obviously.
Having presented my credentials, I'm going to have my say about the goings on in the Palace(s) in recent weeks. Let's start with Andrew, a tragic case of a misguided, limited-thinker, with a sense of entitlement, too much money and too much free time while his role in life dwindled to nothing. He should have pursued his Navy career where he would no-doubt have been successful, been kept in line, and found a purpose to his life.
Now for the latest crisis in hand. Who's right and who's wrong? Are the Sussexes the victims or the vindicated?
I was surprised when I read about the poor 12 year old walking behind his mother's coffin, next to his father who wouldn't even give him a comforting hand. I was surprised because I watched that happening in real time and whilst I felt extremely sad for the two boys, it never occurred to me that Charles should take Harry's hand. It's not how it's done. And now I'm thinking, would it have been so terrible to take your grieving 12 year old son's hand as he walks behind his mother's coffin, being watched by millions of people around the globe?
At my father's funeral, there was nothing undignified about our walk from the prayer hall to the grave. And yet I was arm in arm with my mother and various other family members walked holding hands or arm in arm. It was comforting how we gave each other support. But of course that was our private funeral with family and friends, not a public event. I'm sure there were plenty of hugs and comfort for the Windsor boys in the privacy of their home.
Likewise at the wedding. Doria Ragland, Meghan's mother, sat alone in her solitary pew. How sad was that? Once again, protocol trumped warmth and consideration. At each of my nephew's Bar Mitzvas their other grandparents sat with their siblings at the party. My parents, having no siblings available, were given eight invitations so that they could enjoy a table of their own friends at their grandson's Bar Mitzva party.
People say that the Royal family are not normal. I think this was the case in the past but the young royals of the 1960s and 70s got a much better grasp on how normal families behave, both from television and from being the first royals to attend school. Starting with Princess Anne's children, there has been mostly normal family life (normal for the mega-rich anyway).
However, there is also the public role, full of pomp, ceremony, rules and rituals, that seem totally superfluous to the 21st century but nevertheless prevail because without it there is nothing royal. It is what it is. Chelsy Davy, Harry's erstwhile girlfriend of many years, recognised this and, apparently, she decided that it was too much of a sacrifice to make.
Meghan Markle, on the other hand, thought she'd come in and change things. I'm not being the judge of whether things need to be changed or not, but then it's not my call. She came up against the British media who were brutal towards her, and the establishment who were not amused. I think the tragedy here is that Harry was so besotted with Meghan that he believed she could take on The Firm and come out shining. Big mistake.
Is it racism? I honestly don't think so. I think people were genuinely excited about the prospect of multi-racial royals. It was her attitude not her ethnic background. Watching the Crown only emphasised that Britain expects their royals to act with dignity at all times in public; spend an enormous number of drizzly Sunday afternoons opening cement factories, suburban community centres, and the like; share photos of their and their children's rites of passage; and above all, not to overtly commercialise their positions and titles. Yes, William has also trademarked his Windsor names and logos and gets a cut from every mug and tea-towel sold, but he also does the job.
And the sad thing is that Harry was doing the job extremely well too.
The job allows for vast privileges in land, farms, and hereditary mansion homes. There is travel and free entertainment. Fine food and wine. The best medical care, no financial worries, and never having to wait for a bus in the rain. There is also a lot of duty, boredom, decisions made for you often years in advance, and a set way you are obliged to behave. It's a trade off. I think many of us would take the full package given the choice. But you have to understand that it's all or nothing.
What about announcing their plans to the press before informing the Queen? I was as outraged as the next woman. Sort it all out in private with all the concerned parties and then make a united announcement about how it's all going to work and why. Obviously the mature and polite way to go, no? Since then I've heard a podcast (either BBC or The Guardian, can't remember) which suggested that they did go to the Queen and she told them to speak to Charles. And then Charles said they need to speak to the Queen. So after being pushed from pillar to post a few times they took matters into their own hands and went public to get things moving. True? Not true? Who knows?
This brings me back to Andrew. A boy who started life as the all important spare and was discouraged from furthering his own career in order to fulfill the supporting role. He was too dazzled by it all to realise where he was heading. His bad behaviour has led to him losing everything in a way that, for example, Edward and Sophie have not. Edward and Sophie, after a couple of memorable and embarrassing foul-ups by each of them, now understand that they benefit enormously by keeping a low profile and towing the line.
Harry and Meghan not so. On both accounts. They are considering their future and they are not prepared to play the parts without deviation in order to keep everything. As someone pointed out, Archie and any future siblings will not get the same financial allowance or role to play as their father has 'enjoyed'. The next generation of Sussexes, or Mountbattens, will have to function in the real world come what may. I totally get it. Though it's a shame that Meghan hates living in England so much, I respect their decision and I wish them luck.
Have wonderful, happy, healthy and successful lives in North America Harry and Meghan. Bon voyage and please leave your Royal titles and the keys to the royal mansion under the mat when you go.