The world is a mess. Aleppo has fallen to a siege of medieval proportions; we did not get the sack and rape of the city because, 1) there’s nothing left to sack and, 2) there’s too much media for rapine running through the ruined streets, arms full of loot. Petulant President Obama, whose portfolio runs out in less than a month, threw out large parts of the Russian diplomatic corps in a bad rerun of the 1980’s and picked a fight with everyone in Israel. The Department of Energy is faced with McCarthysque blacklisting on the part of the Donald Administration; heretofore obscure bureaucrats are running scared. Would that Donald went after the Pharma people; perhaps then my blood pressure medication would become affordable.
I, in my faulty and flighty non-wisdom, have chosen not to discuss this. Nope. Today we are talking about the Royal Family, aka the British Monarchy, aka the House of Windsor. First of all, having finally discovered Netflix, I have been watching The Crown. This is a somewhat fairy tale depiction of Princess, later Queen Elizabeth II, now in twilight of her life. I recommend the series, if only for the fascinating light it throws on Britain in that period between the heroism of WWII and the chaos of Beatlemania. Claire Foy (Anne Boleyn in Wolf Hall), plays Elizabeth, John Lithgow plays the aging Churchill. Prince Charles is a charming little boy playing with his toys in the palace, unlike the somewhat stiff, sad eyed guy he is today. Princess Margaret is actually pretty, unlike the broken down spinster she was right before her death. The Queen Mother, unfortunately, is portrayed pretty much as she was, except perhaps for being a little thinner.
I have always found the British Monarchy fascinating but, as Gavin Esler of BBC’s Dateline London says, “you don’t have to pay for it.” True. Thanks to George Washington et al., we are not bound by it, either.
The big news is Prince Harry (aka the Spare), now a player on the marriage market. By royal standards, he’s in King Edward VIII (Duke of Windsor) territory, i.e. older and in imminent danger of marrying a divorcee or, in Queen Mother parlance, someone unsuitable. This unsuitable person is one Meghan Markle, a once-divorced actress of mixed racial ancestry. She is beautiful, fairly accomplished, i.e. she’s working in something that is widely known and she is a do gooder at heart. Bully for her.
If you watch the Crown, you get fascinating portraits of not only Elizabeth but of her family as well. One of these portraits is the relationship between the Duke of Windsor and the Family. When Edward VIII, whose given name was David, famously gave up the British throne for the woman he loved, he had no idea what a long haul this really was. He ended up hating his family, particularly the Queen Mother, who was the wife of his brother, Bertie (King George VI), who assumed the throne in the mid-thirties and died young of untreated tuberculosis a scant 20 years later. The Queen Mother blamed Bertie’s death on the Duke of Windsor and his abdication. Thus, she set out to make sure that none of these awful divorced people ever again got close to the throne. She, of course, forgot about Henry VIII, we’ll leave that one alone.
Prince Charles reprised this scenario during the ’70’s when he played the town and ended up marrying a way too young Princess Diana at the behest, for one, of the Queen Mother. This played out to its bitter end in the late 1990’s, of course. The Queen Mother died soon after and thus left Charles free to marry the woman he loved, the divorced Camilla. Prince William, who seems to have a lot of sense, married someone he knew from college who has proven to be a good choice. You do wonder what the Queen Mother would have thought of Catherine, however, being the great-great-granddaughter of a Welsh coal miner and all.
Now it’s Harry’s turn. He’s picked an actress because, basically, he doesn’t meet any normal people. You develop relationships with the people in the circles you move in. The aristocratic girls have all run for the hills after the excruciating Diana years and he doesn’t meet regular people, except on press junkets. Actresses, successful ones anyway, move in circles the rest of us do not. Sometimes these circles include spare royals.
The British press has seen fit to play Queen Mother and make aspersions. No divorced people, no mixed race people, no one with a job. The Family is the job. The Family, to its credit (perhaps because of the wayward Diana) has made approving noises in a rare press release, castigating the coverage Ms. Markle has garnered in the ever rapacious British tabloid press. Will our lovely Meghan play Cinderella (right) and garner that glass slipper or will she be another failed long-term Windsor girlfriend with a career on her mind? My advice, run like hell Meghan. Being HRH Meghan Windsor or the Duchess of God-Knows-What would be a bore, locked up in a stuffy palace cheek by jowl with the gray palace servants who really run the show. Have a fling with Harry and move on. You get all the best parts (as it were) that way.