The Royal Gavel: Why HM The Queen fired the Duke and Duchess of Sussex
Over the past few weeks, we have heard a number of statements made by the British Royal Family concerning the future of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. It all started on January 8 with this train wreck, posted on the Sussexes’ Instagram account:
“After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution.
We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen.
It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment.
We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to the Queen, the Commonwealth and our patronages.
This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity.
We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties.
Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support.”
The Sussexes published this nonsense without consulting HM The Queen, HRH The Prince of Wales, or HRH The Duke of Cambridge, all the people who will now have to clean up the mess they have made. This alone is a monumental breach of protocol and even common courtesy to rest of the family, who are already plagued by the precipitous fall of HRH The Duke of York, who may never be able to work full-time again on behalf of the Crown. But what is worthy of derisive laughter is their unilateral statement that they would carve out “a progressive new role within this institution.”
Memo to everyone in the world, especially the people who should already know this: the monarch decides the roles of the members of the Royal Family. When you belong to the Royal Family, you work for the people, under the direct supervision of the Queen, and in due time her heirs and successors. Period.
For most of history, the people served their monarch and were ruled over by them. Now, royals reign rather than rule, and they serve the people, not the other way around. Being a working member of a royal family in a constitutional monarchy is never easy, but plenty of commoners who have married into royalty in the last century have managed it. There have also been commoners who decided not to marry royalty because they knew that a royal life would not suit them. No other royal couple has ever publicly tried to have one foot in and the other foot out as the Sussexes have done here, and the Queen has made it clear that royal life is an all-or-nothing deal.
Imagine walking into your boss’ office and telling them that the job which gave you luxurious room and board, a huge expense account, and a title that opens every door in the world had become just too hard, and you wanted to work part-time instead. That you were willing to give up part of the expense account but that you wanted to keep all the other perks and still be considered a valuable member of the company, while living abroad half the year and only working when it suited you. How long do you think you would have to pack up your gold-gilded office before your ass was kicked down the stairs?
That, in essence, is what HM The Queen has done to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, although in a much kinder and loving way. After all, they are still family. But the Queen, like all monarchs, has spent her entire life and reign torn between the human who wears the Crown and the Crown itself. However much she loves Harry, Meghan, and Archie as a grandmother and great-grandmother, as an employer she had no choice but to fire the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
The Duchess of Sussex does not have proper respect for the institution into which she married. She either fails to understand, or chooses to ignore, the salient fact that the British monarchy is bigger than any one person, even the one who wears the Crown. Trying to make her own rules and refusing to toe the same line as everyone else of her rank is both infantile and repugnant. I have long admired her as an individual who made a successful career, cares about important social causes, and is beautiful and stylish. It is true that she gave up a very great deal to marry Prince Harry, and the racist bile to which she has been subjected by the press is unforgiveable. But none of that changes the fact that she made the free choice to marry into the Royal Family, with everything that implies, and she does not get to make the rules.
As for Prince Harry, the idea that he thought he could be a part-time royal is even more laughable. He has grown up as the son, grandson, great-grandson, brother, and nephew of people who have dedicated their whole lives to service of the people as members of the Royal Family. Even after his parents officially separated in 1992, his mother continued to industriously fulfil the role of Princess of Wales and served the public tirelessly, even after she was divorced and stripped of her HRH. Prince Harry was never expected to be king, but as the son of the next king and the brother of the one to come thereafter, he was born into royal duty. The lack of ability to make his own destiny must surely be frustrating, but he was still born into a life of immense privilege, one that many people would surely trade for their own.
As much as it may have pained her personally, the Queen has thrown down the gauntlet for the Sussexes and everyone else. The message is clear: you can serve the people through the monarchy with the privileges that come with it, or you can be a private citizen, but not both. Royals are not private citizens, and royal status — the right to be called Royal Highness — is not to be used as a bargaining chip in personal enterprise.