Without warning, without fuss, without apology and, apparently, without consulting any of the multitudinous people they might have been expected to consult, Meghan and Harry (aka the Duke and Duchess of Sussex) have announced that they are “stepping back” as senior members of the royal family.
They intend to split their time between the UK and North America and “work to become financially independent” of what Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, always called “the firm”.
Of course it has brought the Meghan-haters out in droves, each one of them spitting poison even more virulently than before. She has isolated Harry from his family. She has brainwashed him. She has worked some kind of spell on him that has put him in her unbreakable thrall. Why? Because that’s what women do! Because that’s what happens if you let The Wrong Kind of People – divorced people, American people, children of single and (whisper it) black mothers – into Britain’s top family. They pollute it with new blood and new ideas.
Amazingly, the misogynists, racists and snobs seem unable to connect the dots between their own behaviour and their target’s desire to put an ocean between them and her newborn child and husband. Maybe they’ll work it out one day. Forgive me if I don’t hold my breath.
Common sense dictates that Meghan, as the newcomer to the situation, was probably the catalyst for the move. But those of us less blinded by toxic prejudice and not working off the assumption that evil witchy women are behind every decision that displeases us manage to incorporate two major points into our thinking. One is that as a 35-year-old adult human, father and prince with 10 years of active service as a soldier, and as a man who has hated the media all his life for the strain it causes and the part he believes it played in the death of his mother when he was 12, Harry is unlikely to have been a passive partner in the undertaking.
And two is that it is a quite magnificently baller move, and the more responsible Meghan was for it, the more she should be admired. It is the greatest act of boundary-setting in living memory and an example to all of us whose lives are habitually more dictated by the wants and grabby demands of others than our own needs. It is a demonstration of how few things are actually immutable in life, however inalterable they initially seem to be. And it’s an absolutely inspirational reaction on how to deal with bullies and bullshit.
It should help us all to see that we don’t have to put up with things that are unacceptable, no matter how long they have gone unchallenged as an unavoidable part of the job (or relationship, or whatever other field of life you have people intent on making miserable for you). Their sudden, unexpected move should prompt us all to realise that we have more power over our lives than we think. We just have to choose to use it.
I do wish they could have endured royal life a little longer for the sake of the Queen in her later years – I think we have a duty to upset nonagenarian ladies as little as possible, whether they are monarchs or not – but I understand why they couldn’t.
In a documentary last year filming the couple as they visited Africa, Meghan noted that she had always said to Harry, “It’s not enough just to survive something, that’s not the point of life. You have got to thrive.”
That is true for them and for all of us. And I hope they do.