THERE can have been few royal occasions in recent years that excited the popular imagination more than the wedding of Harry and Meghan.
Goodwill emanated to the young Prince who had endured the loss of his mother as a teenager, gone through some tearaway years and then emerged popular throughout the Commonwealth, respected for his military service and the Invictus Games.
His Californian bride was not a film star of the calibre of Grace Kelly, but she was articulate — the first royal bride to have addressed the United Nations.
Somehow it has gone disastrously wrong very quickly.
Their step back from “senior” royal duties has brought a mixture of fury and bafflement from those who have supported and cheered on Harry and his stunning bride, who finally injected some razzmatazz into a flagging royal enterprise.
And what a win for the anti-Meghan brigade who suspected this American interloper was up to no good.
It is worrying that Prince Harry should make this move. It is impossible not to think that he has been influenced by his wife, with her Californian ideas.
Perhaps they will have a happy new life but usually these unconventional moves made in the quest for private happiness and expression backfire.
Prince Harry had so much going for him. It is hard not to imagine that he is throwing much of this away. I wonder what sort of life young Archie will have. I see confusion ahead.
How far the couple will go in terms of dropping out of the limelight is unclear. They should pause and reflect hard before stepping over the precipice.
Their intention to “work to become financially independent” will be interesting to watch.
Where will this new money come from? Will Meghan cash in her global fame in Hollywood?
What a draw a Meghan Markle flick would be. Or, as many wags on social media joked last night, will she play herself in a future series of The Crown?
Or will she use her significant clout on social media to “influence” for cold, hard cash?
Will there be endorsements? Will her lifestyle blog The Tig — which once made her £60k a year through sponsorships and endorsements — be resurrected?
But until this magical time of financial independence, presumably we will continue to pick up the bill, having already seen £2.4million of public money poured into their Frogmore Cottage home.
And reports suggest taxpayers could continue to pay their £600,000 annual security bill — even if they were living in Canada.
And what of the roughly £2million a year Harry receives from the Queen’s taxpayer-funded Sovereign Grant? How quickly will that go? Will it be phased out as third-party money rolls in?
And while she has many strings to her bow, what job will he do, an ex-Army man with two A levels to his name and no real world experience?
Rumours suggest he may become Governor-General of Canada. But the role, carrying out the Queen’s duties in Commonwealth nations, would be counterproductive for Harry, for several reasons.
The role is seen as better to be held by a seasoned political figure, who knows the intricacies of the country and can perform a delicate balancing act. Nor would it give Harry and Meghan the anonymity hey appear to enjoy.
And I suspect much of it would bore them to tears. So where did this breakaway come from? Royal insiders suggest the Sussexes have been sidelined by the Royal Family, hence their “many months of reflection and internal discussions” searching for a new way forward.
So off to Canada they go. It has obvious appeal for them. American Meghan in particular loves it and spent seven years there while filming her TV drama Suits.
And during their courtship Harry secretly jetted over to be with his beloved at her flat in Toronto.
Harry and Meghan’s apparent antipathy towards life in Britain has clearly reached breaking point.
There have been stories of imperious behaviour, rudeness to gardeners, allegations that Prince Harry had become isolated from his friends and was being integrated into more Californian ways — flirting with veganism, yoga practice and so forth. These stories did not come from nowhere.
Harry’s confidence to run his own affairs as he sees fit, regardless of the views of many seasoned family advisers, has left the royals resigned to him doing as he wants.
One of the most significant of Prince Harry’s many wars with the media could get nasty. He is determined to sue the Mail on Sunday over its sharing of letters from Meghan to her father, Thomas.
Nobody in the family is publicly supporting his battle, which is seen as very ill advised, but he won’t be spoken to about it.
Our source said: “The idea of Thomas Markle versus Meghan Markle in the High Court is horrific but nobody can see any way of it being stopped.
“The harm to the Royal Family could be catastrophic. Global headlines, and all of them damaging. It gives the impression our Royal Family is a dreadful soap opera.”
Harry and Meghan have further issues. Unwisely, he confirmed a falling-out with his brother William in an interview in Africa with ITV journalist Tom Bradby.
Meghan may have been told, and even believed, that William advised his brother not to marry her. Such things are not forgiven.
Is there a sinister competition between the brothers? Certainly events haven’t helped that speculation. Take just last week.
The only royal event in the calendar over New Year was William’s big environmental contest on New Year’s Day, a quiet period for news.
His camp was “more than miffed” when the Sussexes released a rare photo of Harry with his young son Archie on New Year’s Eve — knocking William off the front pages. These things are meant to be choreographed, but it looked like they were competing.
Royals overshadowing each other’s work in this way comes from a lack of co-ordination — itself an issue.
Then Harry and Meghan were away for Christmas at Sandringham and not around when Prince Philip was in hospital. It did not play well and fed into the narrative that Harry and Meghan’s hearts and minds are elsewhere.
Charles is known to want a more streamlined family with the focus on those in direct line of succession — he, William and George, shown with the Queen, appeared in an official portrait released last week.
There was no need to step back from their duties, because this would liberate Harry and Meghan to concentrate on their own schemes, such as Sussex Royal.
Last June they caused yet another stir when they left the Royal Foundation, the charitable organisation they shared with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
They have since trademarked the name Sussex Royal for their own activities, and are said to be planning to officially launch their new foundation in 2020.
Possibly the intelligent and articulate bride had seen her role as Prince Harry’s wife as a platform for advancing the causes she felt strongly about. But will she still be able to pursue this path in Canada?
Edward VIII effectively became an exile
There is a pertinent lesson in history here. Diana, Princess of Wales thought she could go it alone, having become a “royal” and “celebrity” figure in her own right.
It was not an unqualified success.
The nearest precedent to the bombshell is the abdication of Edward VIII in 1936, in which a king laid down his throne to spend his life with the woman he loved.
He announced he was quitting public life for ever, but was willing to help the new king “in a private station” if his service was required.
Unfortunately for him, his services were not required — except as Governor of the Bahamas and he became effectively an exile, living abroad, away from his country.
Did this decision make him happy? No, I don’t believe it did. Just look at the sad, dead eyes of the Duke of Windsor in his 70s, who took what he perceived was the path of happiness instead of duty, and was miserable as a result.
The most successful members of the Royal Family are those that work within the system. The Queen has been totally steadfast, and Prince Philip completely supportive.
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The role of members of the Royal Family is primarily to help the Queen. But I hear Meghan cry: “It’s not enough to just survive something, right?
“That’s not the point of life. You’ve got to thrive, you’ve got to feel happy.’”Canada it is, then.
- Hugo Vickers is author of The Private World Of The Duke And Duchess Of Windsor and a biography of the Queen Mother. Today his biography of Gladys Deacon, Duchess of Marlborough, is published as The Sphinx.
FIRST DATE TO ‘FAMILY RIFT’
July 2016: Harry and Meghan set up by mutual friend in London.Nov 2016: Prince confirms relationship in lengthy statement.
Dec 2016: The Sun runs photos of couple on a London date.
Nov 2017: Kensington Palace announces engagement. First photocall and TV interview.
Feb 2018: First official visit with William and Kate.
May 2018: Wedding in Windsor.
Oct 2018: Meghan’s pregnancy announced.
Feb 2019: Two-day baby shower for Meghan in New York.
March 2019: Sussexes split from Kensington Palace amid rumours of rift with Wills and Kate.
April 2019: Couple move to Frogmore Cottage following £2.4million taxpayer-funded renovations.
May 2019: Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor born.
Oct 2019: Meghan reveals struggles with royal life in ITV documentary.
Nov 2019: Couple decide not to spend Christmas at Sandringham.
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It’s gone disastrously wrong very quickly for Harry and Meghan – so after their Royal exit what’s next for the Sussexes? have 1953 words, post on www.thesun.co.uk at January 9, 2020. This is cached page on Law Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.