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Last week’s many news reports of back-to-back health issues facing King Charles and Princess Kate of Wales highlight the fact of the monarchy’s human vulnerability. Though in most cases committed to life service, the royals are, of course, mortal like the rest of us.
Our own shores have given refuge to a British prince and his actress-wife who abdicated public service to enrich self-interests, as was their right.
But at a time when the Sussexes might have actually contributed something valuable, their personal flaws and failures are newly exposed. Indeed, their behavior lets down not just Harry’s family in a difficult moment, but an entire nation.
The monarchy is an ancient societal pillar of our mother country, whose history (including Magna Carta and the 1688 Glorious Revolution) and legacy inspired our own values of individualism, freedom and justice. It has endured, albeit with a 17th-century blip, for more than a millennia and as the many U.S. column inches devoted to the royals prove, holds a deep fascination even in our contrarian colony on this side of the Atlantic.
Revelations of 75-year-old King Charles III’s diagnosis of an enlarged prostate and the subsequent corrective procedure highlight the reality of the oldest-ever British monarch to assume the throne. Simultaneously, much beloved, and seemingly robust Kate’s unexpected abdominal surgery, and extended hospital stay, have added to the anxiety.
The public disclosure of these health episodes, typically a delicate matter, has fueled copious global media attention.
Prince Charles’ vision of a “slimmed-down monarchy” is being tested as medical hurdles sideline key members of his family who represent the nation in public life. With the withdrawal from this life of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, as well as the marginalization of Charles’ brother, Prince Andrew (implicated in the Epstein scandal), the ranks of family members available to carry out royal duties are sparse.
Compounding the reduction in force of these errant members, Prince William, heir to the throne, putting family first, has taken himself out of service temporarily to support his children and wife during her convalescence.
However, the royal show must go on as the monarchy has constitutional responsibilities. The robustly popular and tireless Princess Anne, as well as Charles’ other brother, Prince Edward, Duke of Edinburgh, and his wife Sophie emerge as reliable figures to pick up the slack, but the small bench emphasizes the limitations of a reduced royal workforce.
Once a beloved figure known for his dedication and engaging personality, Prince Harry departed from meaningful royal service in 2020 to pursue self-enriching paths in America. His absence leaves a void.
The unforgivable statements made and actions taken by Harry and his wife to damage the monarchy and his family personally add to the betrayal. Under such circumstances, who could disagree with the public outcry for the prince and his wife to have their royal titles revoked?
Though the royal workforce is taxed by their absence, the monarchy is actually far better off without the malicious, untrustworthy pair, endeavoring to monetize all aspects of the only thing that makes them noteworthy and relevant – the relationship with Harry’s family.
Monarchy can survive only as long as there is public support. But Prince Harry and Meghan Markle seem to have incinerated their popularity in Britain, America and even in Hollywood, where they were once the toast of the town.
This week’s publication of Robert Hardman’s “The Making of a King: King Charles III and the Modern Monarchy,” gives the world a new reason to scrutinize the Sussexes.
It reveals how the couple tortured the final years of the beloved queen, even going so far as to “infuriating” her by the way they presented the naming of Harry and Meghan’s daughter, “Lilibet” – a cherished nickname for Queen Elizabeth used only by a few of her dearest family members.
The Daily Mail reported the queen is said to have remarked in anger: “I don’t own the palaces, I don’t own the paintings, the only thing I own is my name. And now they’ve taken that.”
Over the weekend, Hardman clarified: “I’ve seen a lot of reports that the queen was furious about the name,” Hardman said. “It wasn’t the naming that was the issue; it was the way that the naming was presented. The sort of war of words.
“It was the fact it was presented that she was in favor of this and then the BBC reported that actually she wasn’t asked. And then the Sussexes said, ‘That’s not true; here’s a lawyers’ letter,’ and the palace were asked to endorse this and very pointedly did not.”
We wish King Charles and Princess Kate full and speedy recoveries. Charles’ first year as king has reinforced the monarchy’s sense of permanence, stability and continuity. While they are irreplaceable, a short absence will highlight their value. As for the Sussexes, they forfeit an opportunity to earn some much-needed respect.