Is this The avant-garde united state of modern royalty?
When Prince Harry’s engagement to Meghan Markle was announced in November 2017, it was welcomed and seen as a new chapter in royal history.
They represented modern Britain as an interracial couple, and she’s thought to be the first biracial individual of white and black heritage to marry into The Firm.
A lot has changed for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex since tying the knot in May 2018. They became parents to Archie Harrison, they moved to Frogmore Cottage and they broke away from the Royal Foundation to set up their own charity. But the biggest change was when they sensationally announced their resignation as working royals through Instagram.
It’s been almost a year since ‘Megxit’, a playful word coined by the British press. Royal commentators described it as a constitutional crisis, a rather hyperbolic notion for the 6th in line to the throne and his wife, but this was never seen before.
Most (if not all) of 2020 has been disrupted by Covid-19, so, it is difficult to assess their new ventures due to the circumstances brought on by the pandemic. They have delivered projects and revealed upcoming ventures that offer glimpses into their intentions and creative output.
Some of their fiercest critics like Piers Morgan have called for them to be stripped of their titles. Meghan Markle has drawn comparisons to Wallis Simpson and has been as polarising as her American-royal counterpart in public opinion and her relationship with the press. In particular, her uncharacteristic behaviour of a typical royal has been the catalyst for arguments to remove them of their titles.
The following are 3 ways that Harry and Meghan have been doing things differently as they attempt to lead independent lives away from the royal family, and their decisions have attracted both praise and criticism.
Voicing political opinions
This year, in an interview with Time 100, Markle and Prince Harry urged Americans to vote in the 2020 USA Elections.
Meghan’s comments were seen as a blatant endorsement of Democrat candidate Biden, “We all know what’s at stake this year”. And then went on to say, “If you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. If you are complacent, you are complicit”.
They were controversial remarks and led to an outcry from commentators on both sides of the Atlantic. Republican Congressman Jason Smith wrote a letter to the British Ambassador of the USA complaining of what he perceived to be an interference in the election, and deviating from the strict tradition of royals remaining neutral in politics. He called for them to have their royal titles revoked.
Prior to becoming a duchess, Meghan openly voiced her political opinions; she was a firm critic of Donald Trump and she also voiced her disappointment when Britain voted to leave the European Union.
Deals and speaking gigs
One of the things they sought to have was financial independence and they have now confirmed commercial deals and had speaking gigs.
They were reportedly paid between $500,000 to $1 million to give a speech at a JP Morgan summit in Miami.
By Kaz Bosali: Political Columnist
Following the Obamas footsteps, they also signed a lucrative production deal with streaming giant Netflix for a reported £112 million despite no producing experience. They were criticised for making a deal with Netflix after its portrayal of Princess Diana in the series The Crown.
In a statement, they said they are to create “content that informs but also gives hope… [Netflix’s] unprecedented reach will help us share impactful content that unlocks action”.
It has been claimed that they didn’t consult the Queen of their new project.
contradictory insistence on privacy
In response to Megxit, the Queen released a statement that expressed her disappointment at their decision to step back but went on to say she understood the Duke and Duchess’ desire for privacy.
They have struggled to prevent intrusions from the media. Back in October, they received an apology from a US news agency after they used drones to take photographs of their son.
Markle is currently embattled in a court case against her own estranged father after The Mail on Sunday newspaper published extracts of a private letter to him. The issue of privacy is at the heart of this case with the Sussexes suing for breach of privacy and copyright infringement.
The newspaper is launching a defence against Markle’s reasons of breach of privacy by arguing that she couldn’t have had a reasonable expectation of privacy and intended for the letter to become public.
They have amended their defence to reportedly point out that she has leaked private information via third parties to the authors of Finding Freedom about the letter thereby forfeiting her expectation of privacy.
Finding Freedom is a biographical book that focused on the Sussexes early relationship until their decision to step back from the royal family. When the book was released, the couple released a statement that denied contributing to it or being interviewed.
The high court case is scheduled to begin in the summer of next year.
A number of supporters see the Sussexes as progressive and modernising an outdated institution whilst some criticise them for profiting off of their royal name and status. They are definitely not playing by a rulebook and are in territory that no royals have trodden before them.
Every decision and venture the Sussexes make will be scrutinised particularly by the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William when Megxit is due for a review in March 2021.
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