I have gotten several requests in the last week to republish my posts on Kate and motherhood. I have written a number of pieces over the years, but this one is from August 14, 2019, and I think it is the most spot on for the type of article you all have been asking about. Here you go:
I have been thinking about this post for a long time. Last week, the Telegraph ran an article about Kate with the headline Princess of Wales-in-Waiting: How Kate Got Her Groove Backwhich proved to be the nudge I needed to finally sit down and pen these thoughts. The Telegraph article itself is an excellent piece that highlights the remarkably successful royal Kate has become, and I highly recommend you give it a read. The headline (likely not written by the author) bugged me, and it reminded me of the theme of a number of other articles we have seen in the past year and a half. Many articles where the substance, not just the headline, suggested that Kate has only recently started to get it right, to get her “mojo” on as she begins to unveil more of her charitable initiatives. These other articles, and the headline of the Telegraph’s otherwise great article, all push the same theme–Kate is only a successful royal to the extent she is ramping up her public engagements and exposure. I think that is all wrong.
While all of these articles are right to laud Kate’s initiatives, and many make valid points about how successfully she has grown into her role within the royal family, the idea that Kate has turned a corner, or righted her ship, or gotten back on track is completely wrong. Kate hasn’t “gotten her groove back,” she never got out of her groove. Her life is unfolding just as she hoped and worked for all those years ago, and just as she has continued to craft it. Her grace and gravitas are not the result of a change in course, but the natural result of her own, long-standing strategy for royal life.
Many of the articles we have seen refer back to the Duchess’s “Waity Katie” days, which if you are new to the block (or not even that new, because at this point a reference to “Waity Katie” is a serious throw-back), refer to the fact that Kate dated William for many years before they married. Some sniping socialites, and a number of tabloids and papers, too, dubbed her “Waity Katie.” All number of people were intent on shaming Kate for putting her relationship first. Kate received harsh criticism for not more aggressively pursuing a “real” career and, instead, working jobs that allowed her flexibility to adapt her schedule to accommodate William’s military commitments. To be blunt, people criticized her for obviously wanting to marry William and arranging her affairs to maximize the chances of success in that respect.
To which I reply, so what if she did? So what if Kate fell in love with William and decided to clear the decks and make the success of that relationship her top priority? Does anyone want to raise their hand and say it didn’t work out well for her? She is happily married to her handsome prince, she has beautiful homes (plural), darling children, and the option to pursue activities outside her home when those projects fit her family’s schedule. She has complete flexibility to pursue charitable work, aka her career, and also raise her children herself. Sounds like the dream to me. What’s wrong with setting your sights on your preferred life and pursuing it single-mindedly?
Since their marriage, Kate has been vilified for not throwing herself into a frenzy of royal activity. Instead, in the first few years, she retreated to the relative seclusion of Anglesey to start her family. Even as the couple eased more and more into their increasingly active royal duties, Kate has been continually criticized for not working enough. Ludicrously, there are some who even cite her three children, not as the blessings she clearly cherishes, but as excuses that permit her to skirt her work commitments! (You can’t make this stuff up, I’m telling you!)
What so many of these critics won’t accept is that Kate and William have made a conscious choice. They laid a careful plan. They have a strategy to achieve both happy personal lives for themselves and their children, and successful tenures as senior royals, and ultimately a successful reign as king and queen. We are not seeing Kate get her mojo back (which is code for finally conforming to societal standards for women working), rather we are seeing yet another stage of her strategy unfolding. This is just the next scene, with several already played, and a number of acts to follow.
The Duke and Duchess were crystal clear that they would slowly ease into their roles, that their family would always be their first priority, and that intense, full-time work would only come in time—they have, after all, quite a bit of time, a lifetime, in fact. The Telegraph article makes this point when it notes that:
William and Kate both insist that they drive their children to school and nursery themselves; drop-offs and pick-ups are “sacred” time, and staff know it would have to be “a very high bar” to disturb it. “She’s a very hands-on mother,” said one insider.
Kate has always prioritized being a wife and mother, and it is part of what has made her the smashing success she has been in the Royal Family. To repeat. We aren’t seeing Kate getting her mojo back; we aren’t seeing Kate finally figuring out her priorities; we are seeing the fruit of her strategy, the results of her game plan, the wisdom of her choices. Kate always knew what she wanted and understood the best order in which to pursue her life plans. From her first focus on marrying William, to their decision to kick off their first few years of marriage in relative privacy, to her slow transition to working royal, to her current emphasis on her children, Kate has always been clear on what she wanted. She has been very happy to support William and raise her family and play her part within the family. It’s this sense of purpose and personal identity that has endeared her to the British people and to her husband’s family.
Today, society lauds as a chief virtue the ability to “be your own person” and “think for yourself” and “stand out from the crowd.” I have found this societal mission statement is little more than a lie. The truth is that society does not welcome those who really chart their own course, and the overwhelming majority of people swim with the stream. Most who are hailed as bold and forward leaning are only bold in the direction in which they know the majority will agree and applaud them. One of the reasons I have always admired Kate is that she truly is her own woman. Kate really does live the life she chooses, and often she must swim upstream to do it. Since she started dating William she has made the decisions that suited her goals, and pursued the future of her own dreams, regardless of the naysayers, or the abuse from the public or media. She wanted to get married, she wanted to have children, she wanted and wants to focus more on her family than her “career.” So she does.
Today, women don’t like to openly admit they want to marry, and we are, truthfully, expected to pursue a career first, and balance family second. Obviously I have no problem with women pursuing careers, but I do have a problem with being told that we must. The reality is that it is quite counter-cultural for Kate to have made the choices she has. She has actually stood out from the crowd, bucked the system, and danced to the tune of her own tango—with her handsome prince. And society has not applauded her for it. She has been cast as lazy, vapid, a social climber, and a trophy wife. Society seems to only truly celebrate Kate when she pushes back into the spotlight, back into “career-centered” activities.
But, we shouldn’t steal from Kate her sweet victory. The victory of a woman who knew what she wanted and pursued it first, despite the pressure to conform. Someone who wanted motherhood more than “mojo,” and who put that before everything else. Kate’s beautiful persona today (a blend of beauty, maturity, circumspection, empathy and authenticity) are the result of her grounding in who she is and who she has always been. It’s the source of her success. Now, having achieved the life she wanted for her heart, she can–in the right season for her life plan–continue to develop her professional track. But, always on her own terms. That is what we should celebrate.
This week featured some interesting updates on the Sussexes. Rebecca English published an exclusive in which she claims that the Queen has conclusively determined that the Sussexes cannot use the word “royal” in their branding. This seems like it should be an obvious extension of her decision to squash their hopes of creating a “progressive new role” within the institution, but, at the time that the Palace gave details about the Sandringham Summit, there was no decision or guidance given on the status of the Sussexes’ trademark and branding using “Sussex Royal.” I suspect that Harry and Meghan have been lobbying very hard to keep it, for many obvious reasons, but if Rebecca’s story is true, that effort has ended in defeat. She wrote:
The Mail understands that, amid what has been described as a ‘complex’ situation, the ‘fine detail’ is still being thrashed out.
However, it is understood the couple have accepted that, as part of their new working arrangements, they will not be able to use the Sussex Royal name as they had hoped.
Shortly after this story broke, a number of other royal reporters were able to share from Palace sources more details about the couple’s upcoming exit. Remember that the Palace made clear at the time of the Summit that Harry and Meghan would slowly transition out, with their complete departure not happening until the spring. So, although some fans were confused that the Sussexes still have engagements on the calendar, this was always the plan. Royal reporters are now telling us that the Palace has told them that March 31st is the final day, and the couple’s Buckingham Palace office will no longer be functioning on the 1st of April. Between then and now, the couple will undertake a number of engagements in the UK.
There was some particularly interesting new news, though. The Palace also indicated that Harry will maintain his military ranks and his honorary positions for the duration of the “review period” (which, remember, is 12 months), and that although he will not fulfill any engagements in that capacity, he will not be replaced in his roles during the review period.
Finally, it sounds like the Sussexes’ new foundation will launch later this spring, at which point the new branding will be revealed (the Palace did not confirm or deny that the two cannot use ‘royal’).
WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN?
Part of this new news is not surprising, because permitting the Sussexes to continue to use the royal label was really out of the question. The brand is part and parcel with royalty. The same reasons that compelled the Palace to take the hardline they did and deny Harry and Meghan royal status compels the Palace to also require that the two stop using “royal” in their branding. For me, the official line at the time of the Sandringham Summit (that they were doing everything in their power to “find a way” for Harry and Meghan) has always been a little bit of a head scratcher. I wonder what exactly was floated, because it seems an either/or choice.
I don’t think the Palace could have made any decision but this one, so perhaps the more interesting question is, why this delay in announcing the status of the couple’s brand?
Although I have seen some fans try to soften what happened with Harry and Meghan’s sudden departure, the reports were all but unambiguous. Harry and Meghan did not warn their family they were taking the drastic step that they did (whatever notice they provided—a few hours, a day—was not meaningful). When they announced, the Palace, the press, and the people were left reeling. The Sussexes’ shock announcement sparked a dizzying period of meetings and, of course, the tough news for the Sussexes that their plan had a few hitches.
My first suspicion was that the Palace was trying to gauge public opinion on this topic. The Queen had to make a quick decision at the Sandringham Summit, and she made the right one—they couldn’t stay royal—but it was a hard one and probably not the one she emotionally wanted to make. There is a possibility that a second “have your cake and eat it, too” plan was floated. If the Sussexes kept “royal” in their branding, it would make the Queen’s technical ruling effectively null. She may have decided to let the PR shop do some digging and test some polls. Obviously, the public reaction was not positive, and so if this was ever the strategy, it proved up that the Queen had taken the right course and they couldn’t have it both ways. This option is remote. With this new news I think the situation comes into much clearer focus.
The Palace appears to be trying to maintain and mothball as much of Harry and Meghan’s royal life as possible so the two can take it back up again with relative ease.
Think about it from the BRF’s side. It was just two years ago that we were gearing up for a second spectacular royal wedding. Harry, who had gotten his mental health to a good place, had found the woman who could handle the strain of his public life and join him on that platform, and he was finally set to wed. There was no indication at that time that within two years he would mentally spiral as he has, or that the newly minted Duke and Duchess of Sussex would be relinquishing their royal roles. This was not only not the expectation, but it almost certainly isn’t the best course of action for Harry, and I suspect his family—his father and grandmother especially—know that with a deep visceral certainty.
We already knew that the Palace was leaving the door open for the Sussexes, but I think this new news (particularly about leaving Harry’s military positions untouched during review) is a more intentional “review process” than we first realized. From the perspective of anyone trying to “mothball” the couple’s royal life, the big hitch is, of course, the branding. It’s not something that can hang in limbo.
The Sussexes like their brand “Sussex Royal.” Rebranding is both embarrassing and duplicative in terms of cost and effort. If they return to the royal fold in a year, keeping Sussex Royal would be the ideal option. But, it can’t be left in limbo—they can’t conduct business in the interim without a brand and since they might not come back (and even if they do, this next year is off the leash, so to speak) they just can’t use it. They have to rebrand. I think when they launch their foundation in the next month or so, it will be with fresh branding that does not include royal—but maybe something that could transition nicely back into the royal fold?
To conclude, the most interesting aspect of all this is probably what it hints at with respect to the internal thought-process. The long hesitation from the Palace, and this additional news that Harry’s military roles won’t be filled during the test period, make me wonder… Is the Palace very optimistic that the couple will return? Or are the Sussexes hedging their bets as strongly as possible? Because the real news this week is not so much any individual point—like the Sussexes can’t keep ‘royal’ in their branding—but rather how important this test period actually is. It isn’t an escape clause that has been casually included at the end of the Sandringham Summit agreement as an after-thought, it seems to be (or have become) the centerpiece—the focus.
Meghan and Harry’s interview last Sunday night with Oprah was far more explosive than I expected. It was absolutely a calculated and deliberate hit job on the Royal Family and on the monarchy as an institution. All three participants bear responsibility for the lies and the misinformation they disseminated to a global audience, the majority of whom don’t track the ins-and-outs of royalty closely enough to fact-check or call foul.
Since the interview aired, I have gotten quite a few messages from impassioned Meghan fans—or perhaps just social justice do-gooders—who have demanded to know why I don’t believe Meghan. I couldn’t help but think to myself, “why don’t I believe her? Why would I believe?!” The idea that I have to accept everything Meghan says, and that I cannot make a reasonable judgment on the veracity of her allegations is, well, completely illogical to me. We all can watch the interview, question the allegations, and make our own judgments on the extent to which we believe Meghan and Harry’s story.
In America, we have a justice system that utilizes trials by jury. When the government brings charges against a person, the burden is on the government to make its case. If the United States fails to meet its burden, the defendant is acquitted. In a jury trial, the government has to convince a jury of its case against the defendant. Juries are regular people who listen to and view the evidence presented by the government. A lot of evidence is testimonial, i.e. a witness providing an oral account. Among other things, the jury assesses the credibility of the witnesses to determine what weight it will give the evidence (the testimony) of the witness. When a jury makes its decision, we are—as a society—certain enough in its conclusions that we permit the court to enter judgment against the defendant and impose a sentence. We are willing to take freedom and even life based on the conclusions that juries come to by listening to evidence, assessing credibility, and drawing conclusions. So, I certainly believe that all of us have the rational capacity to assess Meghan and Harry and assert our own conclusions about their credibility.
A prosecutor or a defense attorney might sometimes seek to impeach a witness. When you impeach a witness, you show places where the witness has contradicted herself. When an attorney impeaches a witness in front of a jury, not only does he rebut that particular point in the witness’s testimony, but he calls into question the witness’s overall credibility. After all, if you lie about one thing, we are going to be more suspicious that you might lie in other areas, too.
In Sunday’s interview, Meghan was a knot of contradictions. She was an eminently impeachable witness. Oprah never once sought to push back on anything Meghan alleged, but the rest of us certainly can. Let’s jump in…
Meghan doubled down on the same fib she told us in her engagement interview, that she never Googled Harry or researched the royals before she married. I think every woman reading this is raising an eyebrow. Even Oprah couldn’t swallow it with a straight face, and Meghan’s implausible assertion drew one of the few follow-up questions from Oprah that had even a hint of tough with any bite.
I don’t believe for a second that Meghan didn’t do deep research on both Harry and the monarchy. It is the natural and the responsible thing to do. This is the same woman who made a point of exiting the plane at the start of one of her tours clutching color-coordinated binders. Meghan does her homework. Why—in the most important area of her life—would she not research?
Plus, love is knowledge. When you love someone, or are falling in love with someone, you want to know all about them. It is basic human nature to desire to know about the object of your affection. I would expect that Meghan Googled Harry, read all about Diana, read about the monarchy as an institution, read about protocol, read about Britain… In short, researched anything and everything connected to the man she claimed she adored.
This “little fib,” though was a just a warm-up.
Meghan’s Big Lie
Meghan grossly misled the public about the dispute over Archie’s title. The 1917 Letters Patent were issued by George V expressly to clarify and limit the HRH (His/Her Royal Highness) status. This is the relevant portion of the text:
George the Fifth by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, King, Defender of the Faith To all to whom these presents shall come Greeting: Whereas Her late Majesty Queen Victoria did by Her Letters Patent dated the thirtieth day of January in the twenty seventh year of Her Reign declare her Royal Pleasure as to the style and title of the Princes and Princesses of the Royal Family in the manner in the said Letters Patent particularly mentioned And whereas we deem it expedient that the said Letters Patent should be extended and amended and that the styles and titles to be borne by the Princes and Princesses of the Royal Family should be henceforth established defined and limited in manner hereinafter declared Now Know Ye that We of our especial grace certain knowledge and mere motion do hereby declare our Royal Will and Pleasure that the children of any Sovereign of these Realms and the children of the sons of any such Sovereign and the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Walesshall have and at all times hold and enjoy the style title or attribute of Royal Highness with their titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their respective Christian names or with their other titles of honour… [emphasis added]
So, George V limited HRH status to the children of the monarch; at the second generation (the grandchildren), to children of the male line; and at the third generation, to the eldest son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales. So, as you can see, George V wanted to keep the HRHs (princes and princesses) in the family, and only to those persons with a close connection to the throne.
You can see these rules in practice in the BRF today. Anne was born the daughter of the reigning monarch and therefore was born an HRH—a royal princess. But, as a female child of the monarch, her children (Zara and Peter) were not entitled to HRH status according to the 1917 Letters Patent. Anne and her husband declined other titles, but Zara and Peter were never entitled to HRH status. Contrast that to Andrew’s daughters (Beatrice and Eugenie), both of whom are HRHs.
There is a plot twist with Edward’s children. As the children of a male child of the monarch, you’d think they would be HRHs just like Beatrice and Eugenie, but instead they are styled as children of an earl. The Queen decided at the time Edward married Sophie that their children would not be styled HRH. There is an interesting British constitutional question about whether the Wessex children are legally HRHs, but just not using their HRHs (as Harry and Meghan are not using theirs, even though they retain their royal status), or if the Queen’s press release at the time of their parents’ marriage legally withdrew their HRH status. I am inclined to agree with the constitutional argument that supports the latter position—they are not legally HRHs. Regardless, the point is that as the children of a male child of the monarch, they would have been HRHs, but according to the pleasure of the sovereign they either do not use them, or legally never had them.
At the third generation, only Kate’s first-born son would have been entitled to HRH status at birth. Because the rules were changed around this time to permit a female born before a male to inherit the throne, Kate’s eldest child (boy or girl) was destined to take the throne. Therefore, in December of 2012, the Queen issued Letters Patent to make all children of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge HRHs at birth. All William and Kate’s children will be the children of the monarch, and it seems in keeping with the dignity of the Crown to grant them that status from birth.
Letters patent are not issued willy-nilly. Harry was obviously going to marry at some point and presumably have children. Had the Queen wanted Harry’s children to be HRHs at birth, she could have included them at that time. She could have had the language drafted to say all the grandchildren of the Prince of Wales, or all the grandchildren of the Prince of Wales in the male line. She did not. That was long before Meghan or any question of race was in the mix.
The rules governing HRH status are, therefore, longstanding and obeyed, and the deviations have been for reasons that pertain either to the longevity of the monarchy (as was the case with Edward’s children) or to the dignity of status that comes from very intimate proximity to the throne—intimacy that Archie doesn’t have and will never have.
When Meghan said Archie was denied a title to which he had a right, that was false. She lied. It sounds very much like Meghan and Harry requested Letters Patent to make Archie an HRH at birth, as the Queen had done for Kate’s children, and were told no. If that is the case, she misled us by claiming the rules were changed to deny Archie a title at birth when in fact she was simply told that the Queen wouldn’t make an exception for Archie.
Now, several commentators have noted that Meghan said something to suggest that Charles might have also disclosed that he doesn’t plan to extend an HRH to Meghan and Harry’s children even when he ascends the throne. If that is the case, Meghan has twisted the story with a sleight of hand. She has conflated the two important dates–Archie’s birth (when he was indisputably not entitled to HRH status according to longstanding royal rules) and the time when Charles ascends the throne (when Archie would be raised to an HRH). I suspect the truth is that Meghan and Harry asked for Archie to get his HRH status early–for the Queen to issue new Letters Patent for him, and were told no. That in itself was probably the source of significant drama. I think is possible that in addition to that news, they were then told something even more catastrophic in their minds–that Charles was thinking of slimming the monarchy and was not planning to grant HRH status to Meghan and Harry’s children at all, even when he ascends the throne. I am less sure of that, but it would make sense on several levels. If that second part is true, and because I think Meghan is very focused on royal status and titles, I think this would have put her into a tail spin.
Of course, anyone who has been watching the royals for any length of time knows that Charles has been fixated on slimming the monarchy for years. He understands that the whole institution is a bit of misfit in a world of democracies, and having fewer HRHs running around is a survival mechanism in his mind. His plan to slim the monarchy predates Meghan or any question of race. It’s a trend most of the royal families of Europe are following. Recall the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 when only the six senior members were presented on the balcony. That was a major signal at the time. Now that Harry has his own wife and is establishing his own family, and the Cambridge princes and princess are growing and will be taking their places in the royal universe, Harry begins to fade as a primary royal, and his children simply are not that senior. As has been noted ad nauseam, “Diana’s boys” were always destined for very different futures. Their children even more so. I don’t think Meghan is willing to accept this.
Meghan didn’t just obfuscate or omit, she affirmatively lied to us in this segment. But, she did not stop there. Lying about the titles was her foundation to create an even more damaging narrative. When Oprah asked why Archie was denied a title (and again, Meghan has led the audience to believe that Archie was entitled to an HRH at birth and they changed something just for him), Meghan sighed deeply. Oprah, playing the consummate foil, prompted again, “was it about his race? And I know that’s a loaded question.” Meghan replied, “but I can give an honest answer.” Then Meghan told the story about the conversation that Harry had with an unnamed member of his family about what color the baby might be and what that might look like. So, Meghan set up a wholly false premise—that the BRF denied Archie HRH status he was entitled to receive—and then came in with this story about skin color to support her allegation that the reason Archie was denied an HRH was due to racism in the royal family.
This was the mega-revelation, the biggest allegation of all. To give her credit, Oprah asked for more details. My inbox has dozens of stories from you (readers) who are in mixed-race marriages or who have a sibling who is. You have told me about the conversations you and your family members have had about mixed-race children. You all have told me this is a fairly common discussion to have. That is to say, when a mixed-race couple marries, wondering what the children will look like is a discussion that couples have among themselves and with close family members. It doesn’t have to be racist to discuss it. Certainly, such a conversation is personal and most definitely could be racist. But we’d need details; we’d need some context to know. Oprah understood that, because she followed up with a question for Meghan: “How does one have that meeting?” Meghan replied: “That was relayed to me from Harry; those were conversations that family had with him.” Ok, so Meghan was not there. Oprah asked again: “They were concerned that if he were too brown, that that would be a problem? Are you saying that?” That’s the critical part. Meghan didn’t answer yes. She gave an evasive answer. “I wasn’t able to follow up with why,” she admitted, “but if that’s the assumption you are making, I think that feels like a pretty safe one.” WHAT? You didn’t bother following up, but you just aired this issue on global tv and told Oprah and the rest of us, you feel we can safely assume racism?
Meghan has given us no detail. Not what was said exactly, not who said it, not where they said it, what the context was…nothing. She herself was not present for the conversations. Apparently, she didn’t even bother to follow-up on the possible motivation or meaning of the statements. We (the audience and Oprah) know essentially nothing expect something about the possible color of Archie’s skin was mentioned privately to Harry, yet Meghan is inviting Oprah and a global audience, to make an assumption that Harry’s family—let’s give them names, because these are people we are talking about: William, Charles, Kate, Camilla—are bigoted racists. Do you see how profoundly unjust this all is?
I will repeat myself: We, as the jury, have nothing. No evidence. We don’t even know what the statement was, to say nothing of tone and context. Yet, we are invited to make this very, very serious judgment—and people all over the globe have done so. Based on her word? Meghan just lied to us about the titles, and now, without any actual evidence at all, and relaying to us a conversation for which she was not present and about which she did not follow up, we are supposed to freely associate that over to racism.
Meghan knew exactly what she was doing in that segment. She framed her in-laws as racists with a predicate based on a lie (the HRH dispute) and then a wholly unsupported assumption. Truly astounding. But there was more to come…
SMASHING THE ROYALS’ MENTAL HEALTH WORK
Meghan’s other major bombshell was the claim that she became suicidal and that the Royal Family didn’t give her any support. It is deeply troubling to hear anyone assert they are suicidal. I hope, if this is true, that Meghan has sought help and is continuing treatment.
I do not know if Meghan truly was suicidal. She may have been. Valentine Low reported that he had heard she was very emotional at that time, although not that she was contemplating suicide. Only she knows. I can say that I found Meghan’s claim that the Palace refused to help her very, very suspect. Harry went public with his mental health challenges around the time of the London Marathon and discussed how he sought and received professional help for years. Kate’s brother James Middleton revealed in the last year or two that he has battled serious depression, and that Kate was taking time away from family and royal duties to accompany him to therapy. The royals have been tangling with and addressing mental health issues intimately, both within and without the Palace walls, yet we are supposed to believe that Meghan approached the Palace with suicidal ideations and they callously ignored her pleas? I very frankly do not believe that.
The fact that Meghan had already misled us so shockingly in earlier parts of the interview made it even harder to swallow this next massive bombshell. If ever a witness had no credibility, it was the Duchess of Sussex on national tv.
There were a lot of other discrepancies in this interview—too many to count—but, these were the two headliners, for obvious reasons. In our day and age, the allegation of racism is very hard to defend against once it has been alleged. I am thinking of writing a post about William’s one-sentence defense of his family. But, this was a serious, serious allegation that had, as discussed above, no substance at all. It is shocking that Meghan would attack her in-laws so viciously, so publicly, with no real evidence to support her claim.
The mental health claim (that the royals wouldn’t give her help) is equally shocking. If they weren’t willing to get her help, what she is really alleging is they were willing to risk her death. That’s pretty heavy. Why would she say the Palace wouldn’t help her? I think Meghan was on a mission to inflict maximum damage on the institution of the monarchy and to carve out a role for herself outside the firm. Because, this allegation also strikes at the heart of William and Kate’s headline issues—mental health support.
Meghan needs a product to sell now that she isn’t a British Royal. In addition to what seems to be a bizarre obsession with being Diana 2.0, Meghan also needs a product to generate income. She needs to create relevancy in a crowded market. By claiming racism, by claiming she couldn’t get needed mental health help, she has set herself up to now be a motivational speaker on these issues–an advocate with actual experience in these thorny and dark passageways of life. And indeed, that is exactly what Meghan transitioned to right after smearing her in-laws; she seamlessly pitched herself as the perfect Commonwealth princess. As she noted herself, “60 or 70% [of the Commonwealth] are people of color, and they need examples of people who look like them, according to Meghan. This back and forth between smear the royals, allege a hardship, and advocate for others about that hardship was a pattern throughout the interview. And just at the end of this week, Archewell announced new partnerships with a number of charities, and the two primary types of charities the foundation is focusing on are race related and mental health.
In the Oprah interview, we saw some manipulation (maybe checkmating Charles into giving Archie an HRH, since he’ll be smeared as a racist now if he doesn’t); we saw her settling scores with in-laws (Kate made me cry); we saw her attacking an institution to destroy it (the green-eyed monster—if I can’t have it, no one can); and we saw her do some pretty solid business development. I’ll be writing more on some of these topics.
The key is that we can assess a witness’s credibility. We can probe her statements, measure them against facts we know to be true; we can point out the assertions that don’t click with common sense. We can come to fairly reasonable conclusions.
The thing about lying is that when you lie in little things, eventually you are willing to lie about big things. And the more you lie, the harder it is for other people to trust your word…on any topic. I knew from the engagement interview that Meghan wasn’t beneath the occasional fib, but Sunday night she proved she is willing to twist the truth on a major scale to inflict serious, real-world damage on people who stand in the way of her goals. Sunday’s interview was explosive, but not because it told us the Royal Family is racist or indifferent to the pleas of a woman contemplating suicide, but because we found out just how ruthlessly Meghan Markle is willing to lie to achieve an end. That was truly the breathtaking revelation.
I polled you all on Instagram for ideas to create a Bingo card. These were the top choices to put together on a card. I have made three versions so you can compete against each other, or you can just mark them off as you go.
You can play different ways–you can require the winner to get one full row diagonally, horizontally, or the first person to fill the whole card. Because all the boxes are the same, although the ordering is scrambled, filling the whole card won’t result in a competitive game. You could replace a few if you want to go that route.
Some of these boxes will be easy to fill, but a few might be hard. Hopefully, one won’t be filled, but…we shall see.
This is not a sophisticated Bingo, and it’s my first time putting one together. But, hopefully they work ok. I just made this in Apple’s Pages program, so you could also make your own cards. If you removed some answers and put in others, you could play to fill the whole card. I’d do more versions, but I have to read a whole line of Supreme Court cases before tomorrow, so this is the best I can do today… 😉
Happy Royal Watching tonight… 🙂
P.S. I am not doing this as a drinking game, because we’d all be blitzed within a quarter of an hour. I might sip some light champagne, I haven’t decided yet.
I wrote the below post in January 2020. It was part of a longer piece that I ultimately published called “The Queen’s Contract and Why the Sussexes Didn’t Get What They Wanted.” I had started out to write about why Meghan was having such a rocky road through royalty, but the whole post became far too long, and went in a different direction, so I left this in drafts. I planned to but never came back to it. I think I cut and pasted bits and pieces of the below into other posts over the next few months, so if anything sounds familiar, that’s why.
Ok, this is the intro that was cut from “The Queen’s Contract…”
When Meghan and Harry got engaged, I expressed some concern that Meghan would not understand and thrive within the British Royal Family. As the months rolled by and Meghan challenged royal convention, it became clear that Meghan did not recognize a very important principle of the British monarchy: The Palace will ruthlessly protect its central figures. It is a machine that will show no mercy in its quest to ensure the survival of the institution.
It was before the Sussexes even married that I saw this crisis looming. Meghan “hit the ground running,” and came in with the attitude of a CEO hired to save a failing company. She was praised as the breath of fresh air the stodgy monarchy needed. With her Hollywood glamour and her American can-do attitude, she was the darling of the media. Inevitably, the press compared her to Kate, and the narrative formed that Kate was dull next to Meghan’s shining stardom.
To me that spelled trouble, because the Palace reads the papers, too, and Kate is the senior royal. She is the future Queen and therefore a priority for the Palace. But, you can’t blame a girl for being charismatic, and I didn’t feel that Meghan herself was necessarily the source of her own trouble until she appeared with her future in-laws at the Royal Foundation Forum.
At that event, it was clear that the Palace was already sensitized to the headlines comparing the Duchess of Cambridge to the future-Duchess of Sussex, and the event was at pains to put the spotlight on the future queen. Where the Duchess of Cambridge might have once just listened, the pregnant princess instead took the podium to give a brief presentation. William, in his own remarks, made a point of attributing the massively successful “Heads Together” campaign to Kate.
Meghan joined her fiancé and his family at this event—a remarkable tribute to modernization in itself. (The royals welcomed Meghan so robustly that she was initiated into very formal public engagements like this one even before she married.)
As the four sat on stage together, Meghan was asked a question (I think about ways to make a difference, or empowerment) and she answered by very explicitly endorsing the me-too movement, and even suggesting how important it was to show support for the movement publicly.
The context here is everything. This event took place just at the inception and explosion of the me-too movement. In the run-up to the BAFTAs, which took place just the week before the Royal Foundation event, Kate was put under intense media pressure to wear black in support of me-too. Ever diplomatic and faithful to her non-partisan position as a royal, Kate wore green. Of course, she made the right decision to remain neutral on the hot-button issue, but she was excoriated in the press for declining to make a red-carpet statement. That was a very rough week for Kate in the press, and it came on top of already mixed headlines comparing her unfavorably to her shinier sister-in-law to-be.
So Meghan’s immediate and explicit endorsement of me-too, and her call for other women to publicly support it was like a slap in the face to Kate. It was stunning. You could see Kate struggling to maintain composure, and William was stone-faced. I can’t put it more bluntly than to say that Meghan threw Kate under the bus while sitting right next to her.
I don’t know that Meghan realized her blunder. I will say in her defense, although it hardly sounds like a defense, that I think Meghan often doesn’t realize the actual import of her words and actions—she seems so intent on her presentation she doesn’t read the room. She lacks that component of emotional intelligence, which is critical in a leader or public figure. For all her poise, and despite how articulate she is, she has proved time and time again that she doesn’t have a good read on the feelings and likely reactions of others. Given her chosen ambitions, it is her most critical liability.
If Meghan had understood the fundamental principle that the Palace protects the principals, she might still be royal, because she would have known that her game-plan would be a non-starter. We should mention Harry at this juncture, too. It is incredible that he isn’t savvy enough about the workings of his own family that he didn’t realize the two were boxing themselves out.
They’d both do well to learn this important lesson now, because one thing from yesterday is clear and that is that the Sussexes have a type of contract with the monarchy and they probably want to keep it in force, as least for the foreseeable future.
I will note as an addendum now in 2021, that I think Meghan knew she was throwing Kate under the bus… She didn’t understand all the repercussions that would have. It isn’t clear she understands even now.
On Wednesday, William and Harry met at Kensington Palace for a board meeting of the Royal Foundation at which they formally agreed to break it apart. The Royal Foundation was launched in 2009 as an umbrella organization for Princes William and Harry to better pursue their charitable endeavors. When Kate married William in 2011, she was added, and when Meghan joined the family last year, she, too, was added, making it The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Heads Together and the Invictus Games are just a few of the projects that the Royal Foundation has driven. Harry and Meghan will split away, leaving it titled The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge only. Yesterday, the Royal Foundation made the official announcement to the press.
Remember, though, that this isn’t breaking news. It is great to have it confirmed, but Emily Andrews scooped this story on the last day of May. Despite the skeptics, she has been proved right…unsurprisingly. I wrote most of my thoughts at that time, and the lawyer in me will just say that that earlier blog post is herein incorporated by reference. I haven’t changed my mind on anything written there, but I have, perhaps, a few thoughts to add.
From what I can see, the Palace is spinning this split as a natural progression, and one for which, as Richard Palmer phrased it, neither couple provided the impetus. Palmer thinks that smells fishy, and so do I. I already read elsewhere that the Cambridges initiated the split, and that the Sussexes would have stuck together longer, which makes sense. Despite their own popularity, the Sussexes do benefit from the prestige of the Cambridges’ position and the Cams’ international popularity, and that boosts the Sussexes’ overall charitable work.
I think we can see simply from observation that this split is not a natural progression. No one denies that at some point the Royal Foundation was going to split. That is so obvious it doesn’t need to be stated. What I am saying is that although it would have been perfectly reasonable to split the Foundation when Harry married, they didn’t, and it does not make sense to split it a mere year afterward. The actions of the four make clear that when Meghan married Harry the two couples determined to forge ahead as a unit of four. They added Meghan’s name to the Foundation and they hosted a big, splashy forum to discuss their work moving forward as a group. They even dove into new initiatives as a team. That is not the behavior of people who plan to split up within 18 months. This choice to part ways is a change of course that comes earlier than originally planned, even if not earlier than possible.
So, is this a good thing, or a bad thing? I understand and appreciate that some people feel very sad over the sooner than expected demise of the four royals’ partnership. Given how badly the relationships had deteriorated, I think the split is for the best. Good fences make good neighbors, and this professional divorce might provide the relief from friction necessary to repair their personal connections.
Splitting the Royal Foundation, though, might not be enough to ease the tension. The issue is very simple. Harry and Meghan appear to be attempting to forge a path that isn’t proper to their role. Meghan was an actress who was working very hard to become a star when she met Harry. The problem is, she took a part in a lifelong drama of which she can never be the leading lady. She chose that, and kudos to her. If she loved Harry, I am glad she didn’t let anything stand in her way. People and relationships are the most important things in life. Meghan didn’t have to marry into the Firm. Chelsy Davy, who clearly loved Harry, couldn’t take the plunge. She didn’t want to live her life in a fishbowl, so she walked away.
Meghan’s problem is the opposite. She is very comfortable with the fishbowl; in fact, she has actively sought it for the entirety of her adult life. Her problem is on the other end of the spectrum, and that is she can’t advance beyond the role she has chosen. As I mentioned in my earlier post, a global Sussex brand isn’t what the monarchy is about. There is no global York brand, or global Princess Anne brand. The royals who aren’t in direct line play supporting roles…forever. Meghan is the Duchess of Sussex, her spouse is a popular prince, but his position in the BRF will drop, and his star will inevitably fade as the years roll on. See, e.g. Prince Andrew.
The tug-of-war between the Cambridges and the Sussexes comes down to a power struggle–the outcome of which has already been decided: William and Kate are the winners. But, how Meghan and Harry finish has yet to be determined.
That is why I am skeptical this split will solve the BRF’s problems. When Archie was born, Harry and Meghan not only duped the media, but from what we could gather, it looked like they left Buckingham Palace in the dark, too. If they did, their PR snafu not only alienated the media, but likely raised hackles at the Palace, too. Again, it has been reported that the Cambridges initiated the split of the Royal Foundation, which was likely precipitated by a decision on William’s part that he was unable to work with Harry, and a decision by the Queen that it was time for William to step more solidly into his role as a king-in-waiting. The way Harry and Meghan handled Archie’s arrival is almost certainly not the way William wants the monarchy to run, which is very obviously the right reaction. So long as the Sussexes are running the ball without direction or input, we are going to be in for a bumpy ride.
I hope sincerely that they take a breath and reevaluate. They will be happier and more successful in the long run if they stick to the age-old royal playbook.
On January 8, 2011, the eve of her 29th birthday, Kate was a guest at the wedding of friends Harry Aubrey-Fletcher and Sarah Louise Stourton. The ceremony was at St. Andrews Church in Boroughbridge. William was an usher, and he arrived earlier in the afternoon.
Although William was at the wedding (and I am sure they were reunited at the reception), this is a solo event of sorts for Kate, because for all the public parts where she was photographed, William was absent. So, this was the first “picture event” that Kate arrived at sans William, and therefore it was the first time we saw her arrive somewhere solo with a security retinue. Nowadays, Kate arriving in a chauffeured Range Rover is positively common, but this was a very exciting change of pace for longtime royal watchers in 2011. It just underscored that she was well and truly a princess-to-be, and royal watching was about to change massively for us.
This ensemble remains one of my favorites on her of all time. She was wearing the same Issa frock she wore to Autumn and Peter’s wedding, but with a new Libélula velvet coat with a sparkling clasp. Kate kept the vintage-vibe going with a perky structured beret from Whiteley. To make an already gorgeous ensemble even better, she added a luxe pop of color with aubergine heels from Mascaro and a matching clutch from L.K. Bennett. I believe her earrings and bracelet remain UFOs, but someone might have identified them in the past ten years. I don’t know.
As excited as we were as fans, obviously Kate’s joy in such a personally exciting time surely surpassed ours, and it was reflected in her radiant smile in those early days.
Not to rub a sore spot, but since William was busy with his usher duties, Kate naturally gravitated to one of her besties at the time–Prince Harry. The two were pictured leaving the church together, and doubtless were (reunited with William) a happy trio that night at the reception.
If you have been reading From Berkshire to Buckingham for any number of years, or perhaps not even that long, you know that “the best intentions often go awry” should be my official aphorism. The year is 2021, which means we are (brace yourselves) celebrating the Duchess’s tenth year as a royal. I had planned to do a look-back for every engagement she did that year, but it is March and I have not done a thing.
Kate’s early years as a royal, though, were not all that active, so it won’t be hard for me to catch up, and hopefully it won’t be that hard for me to keep up. On verra, as the French would say.
That first year was so special it deserves a trip down memory lane. Plus her fashion was some of her best ever. We’ll see how long I keep this up, but I want to give it a go.
Before I jump into the first event of 2011, let’s orient ourselves really quickly.
On November 16, 2010, Clarence House announced that William and Kate were engaged to be married, and the couple held a photo-call in the State Apartments at St. James’s Palace. Kate wore her instantly iconic sapphire Issa dress and accessorized with Tiffany jewelry.
Having announced their engagement, Kate immediately got to work planning the wedding of the decade as media excitement went into overdrive.
On December 18, 2010, William and Kate attended the Christmas Spectacular at Thursford, an event they’d take their children to in the years to come. I can’t remember if this was an event that was promoted, but my general recollection is that it was not. To me, it never really stuck out as that much of a public engagement. It was very exciting to see Kate accompany William, but it was not really a formal public engagement. At least, I don’t consider it her first public engagement, but it was a fun appearance that magical Christmas season.
Kate wore a Temperley dress and carried a Mascaro velvet clutch. I can’t remember if the other pieces are IDed. She was sporting her signature look, though–short skirt/dress with a tailored jacket, and black stockings and a bouncy blow out.
The princess-to-be spent Christmas quietly with her family. Her next big photo moment would come in January of 2011. And that is the next post…
We are in the kind of news cycle with the Sussex drama where I wake up in the morning and immediately check my phone to see if there are new developments. Yesterday’s twists came hard and fast.
First of all, I had missed the second story in The Times. Valentine Low had so much to say, he wrote two articles on the allegations that Meghan bullied staff members. The second one (you can read here), had more detail on the allegations, or at least more detail on the type of behavior she supposedly engaged in. It is important to detail what exactly was said or done, so that the rest of us can make a fair judgment.
Later in the day yesterday, Buckingham Palace released a short announcement that it would open an investigation into the allegations.
What else could the Palace do? The Times story alleges two things. First, that Meghan as a principal/senior royal engaged in abusive behavior toward her staff members, and second, that the Palace HR swept it under the rug. So, Meghan is the primary culprit in this story, but certainly it reflects poorly on the Palace HR that it (allegedly) didn’t follow up. Now that news has broken, they obviously have to rush out there and assure the public that this will be investigated. So that was our lunchtime update.
Then, as a treat to consider on the commute home, CBS aired a new teaser to the Oprah interview, that makes clear Meghan will attack the Royal Family in her interview. As one reporter pointed out, “the Firm” is a name for the family, not the Palace as a corporation/organization.
Remember, the allegations in The Times articles are a direct, preemptive response to the upcoming interview. I guarantee you that the Palace, with its connections, has gotten a sense of what is in the interview, and they obviously know it will be very ugly. No one is hiding the ball on the fact that these allegations are coming from the Palace now because of that. The articles state that several times.
The gloves are coming off. I suspect by the time the closing music starts on the Oprah interview, the war of the Sussexes v. the Monarchy will have moved from quasi-cold war to fully kinetic.
Someone sent me some gossipy tidbits this morning—just some chatter about the upcoming interview. I sincerely hope that Meghan doesn’t hint at or openly discuss the allegations of infidelity that were leveled against William a year or so ago. That would be worse than anything she could say about the monarchy as an institution. Attacking the Cambridges’ marriage would be the absolute lowest point to which she could sink, and it would genuinely appall me. I really hope that isn’t the direction this is going.
Many of you have asked why this is happening and where this is all going. There is lots more to discuss, and I will try to cover that in another post.
Tonight, The Times (of London) published a long and explosive article alleging that several complaints of “bullying” were lodged against Meghan Sussex by her Palace staffers while she was still an active British royal and living in London. The article comes in the run-up to Harry and Meghan’s interview with American television queen Oprah Winfrey, which will air on March 6, 2021.
According to Valentine Low, who broke the story:
The complaint claimed that [Meghan] drove two personal assistants out of the household and was undermining the confidence of a third staff member. It was made in October 2018 by Jason Knauf, the couple’s communications secretary at the time, seemingly in an effort to get Buckingham Palace to protect staff who he claimed were coming under pressure from the duchess. Prince Harry pleaded with Knauf not to pursue it, according to a source.
The report goes on to detail:
Knauf sent an email to Simon Case, then the Duke of Cambridge’s private secretary and now the cabinet secretary, after conversations with Samantha Carruthers, the head of HR. Case then forwarded it to Carruthers, who was based at Clarence House.
In his email Knauf said Carruthers “agreed with me on all counts that the situation was very serious”. He added: “I remain concerned that nothing will be done.”
(Harry and Meghan’s people have denied the allegations in the article and deemed it a deliberate smear campaign)
I am not shocked by the substance of these revelations. There were contemporaneous whispers of this at the time, e.g. the Sun report that Meghan texted and called staffers at 5am and one assistant quit in tears. Whether every detail of a particular story was true might not have been verifiable, but those sorts of stories are generally bread-crumb trails at the very least. This new report tracks with the picture we were getting back at the time.
To me, the most interesting part of this Royal Divorce plot-twist is how the Sussexes and Palace appear to be on the brink of all out war. The Times story seems to reveal Palace turmoil about the proper course of action. It starts by saying, “Royal aides have hit back,” but then notes later in the article that “The Times understands that the palace establishment is highly concerned that the allegations have emerged.” So, either the aides broke out on their own, or there is disagreement on how to handle this within the Palace. Whether this was an unauthorized leak (that feels unlikely) or not, Meghan and Harry consider the attack to be sanctioned by BP. The Times reported:
The couple’s lawyers told The Times that this newspaper is “being used by Buckingham Palace to peddle a wholly false narrative” before the interview. (emphasis added).
It should be noted that the sequence of events that led up to this is as follows: The Queen wrote to Harry privately announcing her decision that the couple could not maintain their royal patronages if they weren’t working royals, the news that Harry and Meghan had already recorded an interview with Oprah was leaked, it was officially announced the couple won’t return to royal duties and would lose their patronages, Harry’s segment with James Corden aired, it was announced that the Oprah interview that had been a 90-minute special will now be a full 2 hours. There is most certainly some escalation in there.
I think we all knew that Meghan was high-maintenance. Both the reports at the time and her approach to royal life generally sketch out that picture pretty accurately. This article in The Times confirms as much, but obviously making that perception concrete with these details results in a very damaging piece for Meghan. It suggests that the Palace (or at least some factions in the Palace) are willing to risk the turmoil of a public fracas to tangle with Meghan. I assume the Palace has gotten wind of at least some of the content of the upcoming interview.
As usual, it is important to remember that the Sussexes didn’t leave for privacy. They didn’t want to stop being royal. They forced their own hands, and are unhappy with the ultimate result (see my other post on this blog for details). Leaving them alone is unlikely to result in peace.
I’ll have to think more about this and maybe write more later, but as I said when the couple announced they wouldn’t return to active royal duties, the Windsors are far from done with the Sussexes (or perhaps more accurately, the Sussexes are far from done with the Windsors). These two will be a headache, possibly a catastrophe, for the foreseeable future. The fact that the 90-minute special with Oprah was extended to 2-hours after the Palace finalized the split has a very ominous feel to it.