Her Majesty’s Persistent Presence

America is a vast melting pot, her contents stirred for generations in a dogged effort to blend peoples and cultures into a cohesive whole. It’s the classic chemistry experiment, where the glass beaker is filled with all manner of substances and then shaken, only to watch the inevitable separation back to individual weights and colors.  The shake-up brings moments of drama though; the storm before the calm if you will.  It’s also an apt description of the British Monarchy.

Despite my best efforts to filter my newsfeed, I still got the announcement about Oprah Winfrey’s televised interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle last week.  I don’t know much about either former royal (or Oprah, for that matter) so I dismissed the headline and moved on.  But I was alerted to the interview again the following day.  And again the next day.  Finally, in a move that can only be described as can’t-help-myself, I got out of my chair, grabbed the remote, and programmed the DVR to record.  Something deep-rooted was telling me Sunday night’s interview was must-watch TV.

No it wasn’t.  The questions and answers were predictable.  The topics just begged for a response from Buckingham Palace (mission accomplished).  After two hours of back-and-forth (and too much time in a chicken coop) my take on this couple hadn’t changed.  Meghan shouldn’t have dabbled in the royals in the first place.  Meghan eventually orchestrated her way out of the palace (and the country).  Harry followed.  Now they’re barely surviving… in an 18,000 square foot house in Montecito, California worth $14 million.  Oprah is their neighbor.

Waste of two hours?  There’s no denying it.  Still, I chose to watch.

Americans don’t have royals, but we have a lot of movies about royals.

Why do I care about Harry and Meghan?  I don’t, yet somehow I do.  Maybe I should blame The Crown, the excellent Netflix series about the British monarchy.  By total coincidence, my wife and I started watching Season Four this week, which is all about Harry’s mother Diana.  Then my newsfeed tells me the Duke of Edinburgh (Prince Philip) suffered a heart condition last week, rough enough to land him in the hospital.  Add to that regular photos of Queen Elizabeth looking ever-regal at the ripe old age of 94 and the royals are all over the place.  They make themselves kind of hard to ignore.

The Queen (will live forever)

The episodes of The Crown are a revelation, especially for those of us in “New England”.  Each show kind of ungilds the lily of America’s perception of British royalty.  There’s more drama, politics, and in-fighting than we Yanks would’ve ever believed of fair princes and princesses.  Yet through it all stands the queen – at the epicenter of the shaken beaker – somehow maintaining poise and presence.  All of the events in The Crown take place within Elizabeth’s lifetime, yet it feels like we’re going several generations back. 

Despite The Crown and my newfound respect for Elizabeth, there’s no question it was the late Diana, Princess of Wales who first piqued my interest in the British royals.  Who could blame me, right?  Lady Di was beautiful and supremely innocent, a veritable Disney princess in the flesh.  She was born just a few months before I was.  Her wedding to Prince Charles in 1981 – the grandest of ceremonies watched by hundreds of millions of people across the world – was the stuff of fairy tales (Charles himself, not so much).  Diana embodied all that was good and somehow magical about life as a royal.

Lady Di belongs in this club

But then we have Diana’s shocking death not sixteen years after her marriage.  Talk about shaking the beaker.  My wife and I were at a party in California at the time and returned to our hotel late, staying up hours past midnight to watch the funeral on television.  Like the Oprah interview this week, I can’t explain why I gave up half a night’s sleep to watch.  I just felt compelled to.

Thanks to The Crown, the royals aren’t looking quite as regal as they used to.  Diana effectively sacrificed her life to be a royal.  The agendas of Elizabeth and her several prime ministers were in constant conflict.  Season Four has a poignant episode where Elizabeth arranges an individual lunch with each of her four children.  She needs a valet to prepare a brief of information on each child so she can have meaningful discussions with them.  Elizabeth may be “Queen Mother” but the title rates a distant second to “Queen”.

(photo courtesy of Fox News)

Harry and Meghan seem determined to move on from the monarchy.  They’ll never achieve “normal”, and whether their marriage is the real deal is TBD, but good on them for making a show of it.  Me, I’m moving on too.  The next season of The Crown isn’t until next year so it looks like I finally get a break from the royals.  Er, unless William and Kate are up to anything interesting.  Are they up to anything interesting?  Hm.  I’d better go check.

Some content sourced from Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia”.

15 thoughts on “Her Majesty’s Persistent Presence

  1. My wife and I are regular watchers of “The Crown.” My wife is a certified Royal watcher as she grew up in England. We didn’t watch the interview as I thought I could write both the questions and answers.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You didn’t miss much, Andrew. The only comment that raised my eyebrows was from Harry. He said if it weren’t for Meghan he would still be at Buckingham Palace today. Not sure what he really meant by saying that, nor if it was a compliment to his wife.

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    1. I interpreted that as a negative. A supportive wife would try and smooth over family issues, not make them worse for her husband. I feel bad for Harry as he was close to his brother.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I have no doubt Meghan told Harry “this Palace life isn’t working for me” and he jumped ship with her without giving the consequences a lot of thought. My take from the Oprah interview: this marriage is not 50-50. Meghan is in charge.

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      2. Agree. Meaghan lived in Toronto for seven years, as the series Suits was filmed there. She was the fashion spokesperson for Reitmans, a Canadian fashion house. Was married for a few years to some guy in Toronto, which was dissolved suddenly with no fuss or press. She seems to be a determined young woman who knows her own mind, not some helpless type. So the whole royal thing was not a good fit in the first place. Harry, I think he was just happy he found someone to marry – not a lot of women would want to take on that role. One of her step-sisters? said “What Meaghan wants, Meaghan gets.” She reminds me of J.Lo.

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      3. Wow, so all that detail about Meghan (which I didn’t know) only supports how we’re looking at this. Her reasons for getting involved in the first place are highly suspect. The J-Lo comparison is spot on and I just saw where she separated from her husband. They both see marriage as take it or leave it, sigh…

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      4. I think women like that are primarily career-driven, and their kids of course, but men may come and go…..and Alex is now gone! I did like Meaghan’s’ Reitmans’fashion line, and expect she will go in that direction someday, as she has good taste in clothes.

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  3. Speaking of ‘blending peoples and cultures’, I’m always intrigued by the blends that worked in our parent’s and grandparent’s generations – probably because the people had no life to go back to if they returned from whence they came!

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  4. I didn’t see the Oprah interview and understand it is being rebroadcast on CBS tomorrow night from 8:00 – 10:00 p.m. I listen to a CBS radio station and they have been heavily promoting the rebroadcast as well as hashing out the snippets from the interview all week. I found it interesting that their beef was not with the Queen or Prince Phillip but “The Firm”. I think perhaps the fact that Meghan was not a Brit might have been part of the problem, more so than her being bi-racial or a divorcee. Just my opinion … she was not one of them. Meghan should have had an idea that life as a royal would not be easy based on the trials and tribulations of Princess Diana, but it is good Harry has taken her side. I think Harry was wise and learned a lot from witnessing the marriage of his parents.

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    1. I agree, Linda, and you got to the essence of this thing in two statements: “… not a Brit…” and, “… should have had an idea that life as a royal would not be easy…” You only have to look as far as Kate for an example of how it works well. As my wife said, Kate was probably preparing for the opportunity to be part of the “firm” for many years before meeting William.

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      1. It’s like an “old boy’s club” … Meghan will never fit in unfortunately. I agree with your wife Dave – Kate fits the criteria for a future Queen to a “T” and has since the two dated many years ago.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I never got past the first episode of the Crown – all those flashbacks got too confusing. Maybe I should have stuck it out? I didn’t watch the Oprah interview either, as Masterpiece was showing the 1995 mini-series Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth. Now there was a real prince – Mr. Darcy! I’m not a big fan of Meghan Markle – I thought she was acting at the wedding and I think she was acting in the interview, the snippets of it that I saw the next day. Or rather overacting…..she just doesn’t seem genuine to me. Do you need the palace’s permission to get help??? When you’re 7 months pregnant? Call a taxi and go to the hospital. And where was her supportive husband? I just hope she doesn’t leave poor Harry some day, but I don’t see it lasting more than a decade. I was a big fan of Lady Diana – we all were in the 80’s, but those were different times. Lady Diana was a naive 20 year old, this woman was a divorced, independent 36 year old, who should have known what she was getting into. Would she have married Harry if he was just some ordinary bloke – probably not.

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  6. Your last comment underscores the real concern here, Joni. I didn’t see anything in the interview to suggest these two are head-over-heels in love. It comes across more like a business relationship, or perhaps two people who survived a terrible ordeal and just happen to live under the same roof. They’re not “in this together”, so at some point the marriage fails. I wonder if Harry wanders back to the Palace then.

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  7. Of all interesting things about “The Interview” one of the most interesting is for two people who insist they want out of the spotlight Mr. and Ms. Windsor-Mountbatten are spending a lot of time chasing it. cheers

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