I don’t normally spend any time thinking about the British royals, but I did want to see the Harry & Meghan interview conducted by Oprah Winfrey. For one thing, I knew it would be a cultural touchstone. For another, I enjoy watching Oprah interview people, because she is very, very good. Like Terry Gross, or Charlie Rose before the fall, or how Howard Stern has turned out to be.
So, I must say, that both Harry and Meghan came across as very sympathetic people. I liked them both. And that kind of thing is hard to fake. What were the big take-aways from the interview? I thought there were three:
- Meghan began to feel suicidal, and the “firm” refused to allow her to seek help.
- Harry and Meghan left their duties altogether when the monarchy withdrew their protection.
- Members of the monarchy were concerned about the skin color of Meghan’s baby.
Seriously? The skin color of the baby?
Meghan is about as light-skinned as a biracial woman can be. The baby — who turned out to be Archie — would be ¼ black, with a “ginger” father, and most likely would look like any other white guy with a good tan.
Now Harry refused to out who it was in the family who had concerns about Archie’s skin color. For whomever it was, that would not have been a good look.
The villains in this piece appear to be, in order of emphasis:
- Prince Charles
- Prince William
- The Queen
Harry and Meghan both emphasized how nice the queen had been to her upon arrival in the family, and how much affection they still feel for her.
Charles and William? Not so much.
It didn’t become clear from the interview who, exactly, the decision-makers are for the “firm.” One guesses that the Queen still has ultimate authority, but it seems likely that much of the decision-making for the day-to-day has been delegated to Prince Charles, or maybe to someone else. It wasn’t clear whether the Queen, Charles and William have to come to some kind of consensus. In addition, there seem to be powerful and long-standing royal advisors who exercise an inordinate amount of influence, but who those are and how that works seems to be completely opaque. Those are things that (I suppose) royal-watchers probably understand. But not me.
Harry is currently 6th in line to the throne, so he’s not giving up much, other than a life of privilege and obligation. He’s likely to be swapping out the privilege of the royals for the privilege of celebrity, but with much less obligation, so maybe that’s not a bad trade. I don’t know.
The couple stressed that they would have preferred to remain “senior working royals” — like Countess Sophie and Princess Eugenie, those kind of people — the ones who are not called first for primary events, but are called upon for lesser events, and essentially to “pinch hit.”
We’ll see what the fall-out is, but it definitely was not a good look for the royal family. But they’ve had plenty of things that haven’t been good looks — Prince Andrew’s association with Jeffrey Epstien, anyone? — and it hasn’t hurt them too much on the whole.