Friday, January 10, 2020

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex --

Marlene A Eilers Koenig

I am not going write many words about what has happened in the past few days.  I have done nearly 20 interviews in the last 48 hours and have to decline others, including BBC's Morning show that wanted me on the air at 2:40 a.m., which is 7:40 a.m in the UK.  I would not have been at my best at that hour.

While I do not agree with the decision to step down as being senior royals, I understand some of the reasons why.   The Duke and Duchess, especially the Duchess, was bullied by the British tabloid press from nearly day one of the first stories breaking about the romance.

Middle England cannot get over the fact that the Duchess of Sussex is a well-educated, erudite, bi-racial divorced American who married the younger son of the Prince of Wales.

My comment:  so what?

If you are going to trash Meghan and call her a social climber, trash her for being her, don't read further.     Piers Morgan's pants must be so wet with the vitriol  he has spewed in the past two days.

There are others who have condemned the  Duke and Duchess for the recent news that they applied for trademark protection.  Well, you dimwits, the Cambridges did exactly the same thing in 2014.  Look it up.  They are protecting their intellectual property.  This means neither you nor I cannot use their monograms and other things to put on t-shirts, etc., for our financial advantage.

I think you should read this article to learn more about the press harassment that Meghan has suffered in the past three years.  No one should have to endure this hate written by people purporting to call themselves journalists. They are not journalists.   They are not even reporters as they are not REPORTING.  They are innuendoists (okay, not a real word), they are purveyors of misrepresentation, but they are not journalists.   Through their words and paragraphs and images, certain journalists and their overseers have conspired to drive Meghan out of Dodge.   I want them to win their lawsuits.

I have great sympathy for Meghan and what she has had to endure, but I have to admit as a historian and as a monarchist, I am also disappointed.  There is no evidence at that the alleged slimmed down monarchy would have not included the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Let's look at this in another way.  The British monarchy will get smaller through attrition and death.  The main branch of Team Windsor is the Queen, her three sons and daughter and the spouses of two of the sons.  this branch also includes the Heir's two sons and their spouses.  The junior branches include Queen's elderly first cousins, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke of Kent and Princess Alexandra.

I have not included the York Princesses and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent as members of Team Windsor.  They are members of the British Royal Family, but they are not working royals.  Yes, on rare occasions, the York princesses and the Michaels have carried out official engagements.  The Michaels have their own pages on the British monarchy's website.  The York princesses are not.

The Duke of York is technically a member of Team Windsor, but he has been placed on leave and is not expected to return to official duties anytime soon.  Or ever.   That would be a good thing

The youngest of the junior Branch is the Danish-born Duchess of Gloucester, who will celebrate her 74th birthday in June.  Her husband is 75.  The Duke of Kent turned 84 in October and his younger sister, Princess Alexandra celebrated her 83rd birthday this past Christmas Day.

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The Queen's children are also getting older.  The Prince of Wales is 71.  His sister celebrates the Big 7-0 this coming August.  Edward will turn 56 in March.

We will probably see a number of deaths in the next decade.  The Dukes of Gloucester and Kent, Princess Alexandra, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl and Countess of Wessex will not be replaced by their children.

The loss of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex leaves Charles III with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Princess Royal and the Earl and Countess of Wessex.

Perhaps the Duchess of Cambridge should have another baby.  Perhaps two to add to the reinforcements.

I have to admit that I am disappointment by the Sussexes' decision.  Yea, I should have seen the handwriting on the wall with the reports last fall that the couple wanted to make changes and spend time in another country.  South Africa was mooted but then came a denial.

I saw nothing wrong with the new parents spending time with Meghan's mom during the holiday season.   I said to one of my Twitter followers that I expected the couple to return to royal duties, taking on a few more patronages, doing a selection of bread and butter engagements as well.

Throwing in the towel in my mind is not the answer.  There are unsubstantiated reports that Meghan felt unloved and said that her voice was muted when she married Prince Harry.   Yes,  Harry and Meghan are a popular couple, but let's be honest. not with everyone.   However, in the pecking order, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are more important to the monarchy. 

This does not mean that there is no room for the Sussexes.  Of course there is, but to hear rumors that they were complaining about being trotted out a times because they are popular is nonsense.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's tours have been successful, achieving diversity and inclusion.  The Duchess' work with Smart Works has been amazing.   She has been able to effect a positive change in the life of lower income women in Britain to be able to dress well for job interviews.

The Duke of Sussex can be petulant.  He is still grieving the death of his mother.  I am a bit tired of people saying that his mother was killed by the press.  She died as the result of not wearing a seatbelt in a car crash where the driver was intoxicated.  The late Diana, Princess of Wales colluded and conspired with the British press for more than a decade.

I hope the Duke and Duchess of Sussex win their lawsuits.  I also think, rather than pushing the royal reporters aside, they should have met with them after the wedding, allowing the reporters to get to know Meghan, who was now a part of their beat.  A good percentage of the nasty coverage has been written by other writers on staff or freelance for the tabloids.

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It takes time for a royal bride to learn the ropes, even a well-educated, erudite American woman, who is, yes, a foreigner, to the royal life.  Yes, there are rules (not about pantyhose or off-the-shoulder dresses) that are largely based in tradition.  Yes, there is also a pecking order. 

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In the 1930s,  the Duke and Duchess of Kent were far more popular than the Dukes and Duchesses of York and Gloucester.  The Duchess of Kent, who was born Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, looked down on her sisters-in-law, calling then "those common little Scottish girls," one of whom was the daughter of an earl and other a daughter a duke.  The families of both duchesses were far richer than Marina's family.  The Duchesses of York and Gloucester were always in front of the Duchess of Kent, but Marina got better press coverage.  She was a fashion icon.    [However, the Duchess of York was the mother of two princesses, one of whom, at age 3, was already an influencer, when she was on the cover of Time magazine.]

I would have preferred the Duke and Duchess to be full time royals, adding to their portfolio, doing more within the parameters of the Royal Family, while speaking out and standing up to that awful press coverage.  Going rogue is in my view a disservice to themselves, to the Sovereign, to the British people and to the country they should be serving.

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Harry should remember his mother's favorite hymn: I Vow to Thee My Country.  I see his decision as a dereliction of duty. I won't castigate him for it.

I certainly believe that this was a decision made by Harry and Meghan, as Harry wants to make Meghan happy.  I do not see Meghan as the sole decision maker within the family. 

We are moving into uncharted territories that I believe will create more problems as the press coverage will not get better.  It will get worse as Harry will be seen as abandoning his family, the duty to the Crown as he is after all a Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland .  It is far easier for the Duchess to walk away from a royal life.  She knows how to live in the real world.

I am truly saddened by the decision because I believed that Meghan has all the right stuff: smarts, compassion, concern, empathy.  It must be admitted that the royal life is not for everyone.  This does not make Meghan a failure.

For those who are denigrating and trashing Meghan and blaming her for the decision to leave being a senior royal, I say you are a part of the problem that led to the Sussexes' decision.

if you liked  .. or didn't like this article ... I would love a vanilla latte.


TME said...

Marlene- This is the best thought out response to this situation I've read yet and couldn't have been said any better. You are always a wealth of accurate information- thanks!

BlueSaphire70 said...

I completely agree that the late Princess of Wales died because she was not wearing a seat belt while riding in a speeding car driven by an intoxicated person. True, the paparazzi were following, but a competent, sober driver would have negotiated that curve without issues. You said that "some people" blame the press for her death, but I think the "some people" begins with Prince Harry. I also agree with you that the way the Sussexes have reacted to the press situation is not appropriate. It's like throwing away the baby with the bath water. But, since they've already made their decision, all that's left is to wait and see what comes of it. I'm afraid it won't be good. I admire HM Queen Elizabeth. First her son Andrew's problems which have bled into his daughter's wedding, then Prince Philip's frail health, and now this. She is a strong woman indeed.

Urban Gypsy said...

Thank you for the considered and balanced read, representing the facts and a common sense perspective on the whole situation. I have had a sense all along that they have not been able to commit to the role, in the way that would work. As you say, the ingredients for successful integration were there. Perhaps they either did not see or feel their value and need the independence they are seeking. I do feel they haven't been able to commit to serve the country and lots of the negativity aimed at them, although unfair in it's personal attack, is perhaps born of a disappointment from high expectations given to them. Integrating two backgrounds that these two have can't be an easy thing, but I also wonder how Harry will find the 'real world'.

Hilde Horvath said...

Yes, well said, Marlene. I was never certain that Megan would adapt to royal life, but hoped she would, mainly for Harry's sake. Now that the two of them have cut anchor with Great Britain, I hope they can pull themselves together and ... what? in Canada.

Unknown said...

Still: The way it was done is a shame! If they had talked it through with the Queen, Charles and William there would have been a better way to Handel this. And yes: Now the Press will get worse

Hp said...

Thanks for this. I agree with everything you said. Including that the coverage of Meghan was awful, but a lot of it did not come from the Royal Rota! Actually, the horrible articles never did that I can remember? I have real concerns with the idea that they only want positive coverage- it concerns me about Trump and what the conservative government in Britain is doing as well.

This just makes me so sad, and feel so horrible for the royal family. It has wrinkle effects- already a labor candidate is talking about the long term effects of this. I wish that they had taken the time to present a united front with Charles. This didn’t have to hurt the Royal Family as much as it did. So what if the Sun leaked it? Can you imagine if this announcement had come with the Queen, Charles, William and Harry on a united front?

Karyn said...

I am thinking that Mr and Mrs Sussex are moving too fast. In the past couple of years they have experienced several highly stressful life events and have not really settled down. Falling in love, high profile wedding, family dramas, pregnancy, childbirth and moving countries and a huge life change for the Duchess. Decisions made when stressed and under pressure may not always be right. I think they needed to give life in the UK a bit more of a chance.

Unknown said...

Marlene - absolutely spot on, as usual.

SL said...

Great commentary. I agree that one certainly must cut the couple slack for what has been done to the Duchess of Sussex by mysoginists and racists, which would sicken anyone with a conscience.

Andrew said...

Believe it or not, biracial people live in Middle England too.

Unknown said...

Thank you Marlene.

Robbie said...

Thank you once again for an insightful and unbiased view of events

Richard Herendeen said...

Finally, sensible coverage. Thank you for your well expressed thoughts.

LAW said...

Marlene, I agree with TME that your comments are right on. To those to whom much is given, much is expected. I think it is sad that the Queen has been faced with the recent decisions and actions of both Harry and Andrew. It was selfish of Harry and Megan not to spend, at least part of the Christmas holiday with his family. It could, well be, the last opportunity to spend Chriistmas with his Grandfather. Prince Charles will not be a young king when he inherits the throne and I am sure he was counting on both his sons to help with his reign and William, likewise, would want his brother by his side when he reigns. There is no way Harry would have been part of a slimmed down monarchy. The press is cruel...we see it all the time in the USA. Much of what is written is biased and lies. It the public wouldn't purchase the trash tabloids , there would be no market for it...but we all know, that will not happen. I sincerely wish that cooler heads would have prevailed as I am sure there will be regrets in the future.

Old Chief's Wife said...

I agree! Duty is duty.

Unknown said...

Joann said -
Marlene I don't take issue with what you said. But it must be said Meghan and Harry must bear at least part of the blame. They should not have released this announcement the way they did. Their method reeked of bitterness, payback and anger. But the only people who are bearing the brunt of this are the Queen and the Prince of Wales.
Just because Meghan and Harry are mad at the treatment they have received, does not give them the right to disrespect the Sovereign and Harry's father.
They are not the only royals to have suffered from unfair media coverage. Prince Philip, for example has been accused of all sorts of scandals. And Meghan and Harry have not had even a fourth of what the Prince of Wales has endured. And the Duke of York has not been found guilty of his transgressions. He has been tried in the court of public opinion and has had to resign from royal work. Even a Royal Highness has a right to Due Process just as any citizen.
Meghan and Harry are going to have to toughen up a bit and realize all this will pass. If they just get on with their work, that would be the best way to get this runaway train back on the tracks.

Unknown said...

Wonderfully said!

LLB said...

Bravo, Bravo, Bravo!!!!

Unknown said...

As a prince is there no oath to serve and be faithful to the country and put your duties to the country first. Can you come and go as you wish? I believe for prince Harry it should be duty to the country first. I am afraid for him during this are of divorces if that happen to him. Harry should stick to his heritage and duties

Unknown said...

What if, the press leak it before they announce it. That is what's going to happen so they deside to tell the people first. What is the diff, and I really want to know who is the palace source

JP said...

I think back to how Princess Diana was vilified by the press with name calling and taking intrusive pictures of her even as she worked out in a gym. I understand Harry not wanting Archie to see his mother go through what Harry saw Diana go through. Why not change your life instead of watch the nightmare recur and try to live through the misery again?

skupachk said...

Thank you for your balanced view.

I personally feel that the Sussexes haven't given it a fair go, and that this decision is a year too early. However I don't have to live under such tremendous scrutiny every day - and to be fair because I do not buy tabloids and don't follow the scurrilous rumours I have mostly missed all the issues.

I really felt that Meghan had the toughness to make it as a HRH and working royal, what I have seen of her work seems high quality and meaningful stuff. A shame to step away.

Perhaps a compromise could have been reached where they only worked in the UK for a few months a year or only worked on external tours so that they could be away from the UK but clearly these options did not meet approval.

My biggest sadness is that they appear to be abdicating Archie's future options. After all eventually he will be the grandson of a sovereign and whether they choose to use the title or not a Prince of the UK.

PB Coleman said...

A great, thoughtful article. I think Meghan is very independent and use to forging her own way. I think Royal and British life was too confining. Now she is back in her comfort zone where she feels in control. I wish them well. However, I wish they had handled the scale back differently. Quietly negotiating the logistics and finances. They don't seem to realize every action they do affects the whole Royal Family.
The way they did things, the press will be unrelenting and jump on everything they do. The opposite of what they wanted.

Unknown said...

Yes, Meghan has been treated badly by some members of the press, and undoubtedly some people have hated her for being bi-racial and having the nerve to marry into the British royal family.

On the other hand, every bride that's married into the family since 1981 has faced backlash. Remember Waitie Katie, "doors to manual Carole" and the "March of the Middletons"? I'm sure that hurt but Catherine and her family took time and worked through it. It's not even been 2 years for Meghan, hardly time to adjust.

Diana attempted to separate herself from the royal family and look what happened. She gave up her professional security and became the play thing of the rich and famous, all of which contributed to her death. And the press never lost its fascination for her, indeed they became less deferential.

A middle ground could have been taken. Harry could have done what William did, said "we need some time for ourselves" and just gone off. There was no need for this emotional exit. I think it's an example of Spencer temperament, sort of an "I'm not getting my way so I'm taking my toys and going home". I feel sorry for the people and organizations that were relying on them.

Bad show, Harry and Meghan.

Maureen said...

I wish this would be published on the frontpage of every newspaper and tabloid. Shame to all those who made it impossible for a young independant woman to find her way in a new and totally different environment as she was used to. All you proved is that the love you all felt for your prince and his late mom wasn't genuine at all otherwise you should have respected his choice and give the woman of his heart a chance. Nobody can deny she didn't try. The only mistake the Sussexes made was, as written here, stepping back!

met314 said...

It is interesting to read commentary from women of color about the treatment that Meghan has faced; all are supportive of her and unsurprised that this is what has come to pass. It takes some nerve for people like Patrick Jephson and Robert Lacey to minimize the effect that racism in Britain has had on the couple when both are white men; they come across as clueless to put it kindly.

No, I don't know that the Royal Family is included in those who are racist - of course there is Princess Michael of Kent, but she is a minor royal after all - but in the so-called "men in grey" that surround the Queen? Factions of the UK press and the UK's government? And before someone says I have an ax to grind, I am a white woman and an American.

Here are links to a couple of articles from women of color. Perhaps they may make some of the anti-Meghan faction think twice.

Unknown said...

I agree with everything you said. A well written piece. The press had not been kind to her. I think having a conversation should have been the first option. His decision just gave the press more to talk about.

Andrew said...

Examples please

LindaL said...

I agree with most of what you have written. I cannot understand why Meghan in particular did not turn to Catherine and Camilla for help in finding her way. I personally love and admire Catherine and she could have been a great help as she makes being a wife, mother and a member of the Royal family look so effortless and I am quite sure it is not. Camilla has been the most hated woman in Britain but has managed to fit in and be accepted. Both women just get on with the job without fuss and without making a meal out of every situation. Meghan almost from day one wanted to change the way things are done and Harry wanted to please her. All the nonsense with the secrecy surrounding Archie's birth etc just rubbed people up the wrong way. Yes Meghan should be allowed a voice and be able to do certain things her way but she shouldnt have gone in boots and all trying to change hundreds of years of tradition. The break away from the Cambridges both in their living arrangements and in setting up their own office etc created a situation of cutting themselves off and loneliness on Meghans part in particular. She had no family support in the UK so could have relied on Catherines family but it was very obvious from the early days of Archie's life that there was no desire to be involved with others. The photos of the polo match showed a lonely Meghan with Archie beside a happy Catherine interacting with her 3 children in a normal manner familiar to most of us. I wanted to tell Meghan to sit down and join in. Put Archie down and relax. I feel very sad for the Queen in all this. At the end of her reign she should know she has the support of her family and can die knowing that things will carry on without drama. Charles and Camilla along with William and Catherine are her shining lights.

Unknown said...

Very objective piece, thank you

Lane Kent said...

I agree with all your article, except one thing. Please don't generalise that Middle England don't like Meghan & Harry. It's not as simple as that. Everyone I know, myself included, who are Middle England prefer them to William and Kate. They seem far more genuine and sincere than the Cambridges. The Cambridges play the game better and are built up by the media, as they are future sovereigns.

If we are going to generalise at all, then it is the establishment and now the Working Classes turning on the Sussexes. Plus anyone from any section of society who lap up every word written by the tabloids.

I am not at all surprised any of this has happened. Like you, disappointed, but not surprised. No human can go through what they have without somethimg finally one day snapping. I have also feared from day one that no marriage can survive it either. I give them until the end of 2021 - if they get completely exiled and the tabloids continue their persecution of them.

Unanimous said...

I think the most interesting thing to note- with all this mess- is that there is no central figure helm at Buckingham. (The Queen is the figurehead but it’s the Private Secretary and courtiers who run the day to day business. )And if this was truly a firm, everyone would be fired. Another thing to add- there are too many leaks which has added to this crisis. Find the leaks and fire them henceforth!

Unanimous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

I am sad by their decision but i think they choose to be happy and rest from all this and just be normals. Prince harry prob does not want to be a duke thats normal and its painful seeing the one u love being treated poorly in a disrespectful manner. We can all give our opinions but we cannot wear their shoes its easy to comment but difficult to live their lives. I imagine meghan crying bitterly and harry comforting her behind closed doors. By the way Harry must have told the queen before going public about it they wont disrespect the queen like that.Meghan has nothing to do with the decision.look at it lime this they are trying to steo aside so that the royal kingdom can have a different headlines other than harry and mefhan all the time they just want to go low key for a while i know that they will be back and i also know that the press will get worse. The decision was wrong but let them try it and see if it works for them.. please fo not pursecute them they are humans with feelings like us.i.agine a friend told lies about u to another friend how hurtful will u feel? Now imagine the whole world reading lies about u and the one u love?

met314 said...

Here's an eye-opening list of how the UK tabloid press has treated Meghan versus how they have treated Catherine.


LindaL said...

I have hated all the Meghan versus Catherine. They are two very different women with a different approach to life. Catherine being British gad a better understanding of the Royal Family and had alot longer to get to know William and his lifestyle long before age married. She has not stepped out of line, has not tried to change the way things are done and is a wonderful wife, mother and member of the family who appears to be genuinely happy with her life. She does her duty and then maintains a private life with her husband and children. Meghan on the other hand was an independent woman who by rights should have been better prepared but seemed to know little of what was expected of her before the marriage. She did not seem to be prepared to fit in to what she sees as an archaic regime. She appears to have done as much as possible to separate herself from the rest of the family. Archie should be growing up close to his cousins but they have barely spent any time together. Families are difficult at the best of times but most people do try to get on even when they dont see eye to eye.

Mr. Olesinski said...

A very well written article. But the thing about this situation that alwayas bothers me is the assertion that the Sussexes want to be "financially independent". Get real! They should be independent based on the money Harry inherited from his mother, but apparently they still need money from Prince Charles. This makes all of their claims of wanting to be independent seem silly.

Cake Angels said...

As the fount of all honours, I believe the correct thing for the Queen will be to place the titles of Megan in Harry in "abeyance" while they work out their future and to prevent them trading on their Royal Status. If they would like to abandon the economic endeavours in the future, the titles can be taken out of abeyance. This means that they are still the HRH DUKE & DUCHESS, but may not utilise the titles, until HM restore the same to them in future when their circumstances has changed. As example the Duchess of Cornwall, who IS HRH The Princess of Wales, but not using the title due to its previous connection with Diana. The Duke & Duchess will still be HRH Duke & Duchess of Sussex, but will USE only Mr & Mrs Wales or Mr & Mrs Mountbatten-Windsor. In other words, the title is in a state of suspended animation until HM in future deem it fit for the titles to be returned as circumstances has changed for Harry & Megan.

Bibliophile said...

Thank you because you echoed some of my thoughts. I have more questions than answers. And thank you for the link.


1) . WHY couldn't Harry and Meghan live a quiet life like William and Kate did in the beginning of their marriage? When Prince William and Kate Middleton got married, he was still working as Search and Rescue pilot. They lived quietly in Anglesley (sp?)

2) . Is it typical for a new member of the Royal family to receive few invitations to become Royal Patron? I noticed that the Duchess of Sussex had only FOUR Royal Patronages, including the National Theater.

3) . Thinking of so many people in the UK who LOVE Meghan and Harry, how do they feel about everything going on?

4) . I noticed that Princess Anne, the Princess Royal is a Senior Royal and somehow she manages to have a private life. She takes on so many Royal engagements. My question is HOW?

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

Cake Angel, a title cannot be put into abeyance unless the last title holder is dead and there is a presumption of another heir. Only Parliament can remove the peerages

princeofhemphill said...

I'm extremely disappointed that they felt forced to make this decision, and I do feel very much that they were forced to do so. At the same time, I agree with you that it's a dereliction of duty...on both of their parts. Furthermore, I would never have given people the satisfaction of knowing that their silly, racist & xenophobic behavior ran my wife & I out of Britain. I would have stayed and fought.