Although ruckus is perhaps too mild a term for the flaming dumpster fire, train wreck or thirty-car pile-up on the interstate, for the public relations disaster that has been called down upon the Windsor family by the present king’s younger son. One isn’t so much drawn to look, in horror – just that one can’t look away from the international spectacle of a man napalming relationships with his own family, all egged on by his wife and the news/entertainment media.
I can’t help knowing what I do know about the British royal family, and the Kardashians, too, as I am a regular reader of the Daily Mail. Curiously, both the British royals and the Kardashians are an obsession of that publication, and it’s a slow week where there aren’t half a dozen stories concerning either. To be fair, I would guess that most of the royals are a bit better grounded, more obedient to duty, and all-around pleasanter people than the Kardashian clan. I really don’t know any of them, in the accepted sense – all I do know, like Will Rogers, is what I read in the papers. But the royals figured a lot in the news, over the last twenty or forty years – what with Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee, the assorted family weddings, births, deaths, divorces, scandals, nostalgic looks backward at the abdication of Edward, the wartime conduct of Queen Elizabeth’s parents, her own coronation, and her recent passing … well, one picks up a lot of trivial knowledge by osmosis.
One of those things is the realization that it’s a burden enough to be born into a family such as the Windsors, and as for the individuals who willingly and for love marry into it? It’s not a fairy tale; it’s more like an indeterminant sentence of glittering privilege and hard labor, into which those volunteers must go with open eyes and a willingness to fit into that life and give up just about every shred of privacy as the rest of us know it. The late Queen Mother did so, apparently assuming at the onset that her husband as the second son would be allowed a relatively obscure and private life on the edge of the royal circle. (I have read in several different accounts that her resentment of Edward VIII was unrelenting, as she was convinced that the responsibility of the office her husband was thrown into, willy-nilly, contributed to shortening his life.) As queen consort and later dowager, she never put a foot wrong. Catherine Middleton did the same; it would seem that Prince William let her have a good long time to consider and consent to what she was letting herself in for. Camilla, the present queen consort was in two minds about the degree of commitment necessary to join the royal family firm; apparently, so did Prince Harry’s previous serious girlfriends, and who could blame them in the least?
Another of those realizations is the knowledge that their lives are terribly peculiar; privileged for certain – but always in the pitiless and unsparing eye of the public – always “on”, whenever in public, the cynosure of all attention. The lifelong burden of attention and responsibility must be a terrible weight; only the strongest and most dedicated are likely able to hold up under the strain without cracking. That the late Queen and her husband held up under it for decades argues for the strength of their own characters, and the steadfast support and affection of a close family circle and those long-time members of their private circle – those few with whom they can relax, let their hair down, metaphorically, and trust to share confidences with – confidences and feelings which will not immediately be blared to the public at large. A close-knit and close-mouth family circle must be a large part of that support system. And Prince Harry has just blown all of that to heck. Not just breaking family confidence, as if that weren’t enough, but publicly venting a reservoir of spleen and resentment with just about every member of his family. It’s horrifying to watch as a disinterested spectator. Those once closest to him must be in agony. One must wonder if he was always an immature and resentful dumpster fire of a human being, and the royal public affairs office and a sympathetic British media just managed to keep that under wraps … or was Ms Markle every bit as awful.
If anything, the divorce coming along in five to seven years, is going to be an even more disastrous spectacle.