Reassuring, isn’t it, that Buckingham Palace has vowed to investigate the bullying allegations against Meghan Markle.
If there is one thing we don’t want to tolerate, it’s institutional cover-up and while it’s interesting timing, the palace’s belated display of integrity is to be applauded. No doubt a thorough investigation into Prince Andrew, currently hiding in a broom cupboard somewhere in the palace, will follow.
Oh, and maybe allegations of royal racism will be put under the microscope while they’re at it to see if black lives actually matter in the palace, or only when there’s a vacancy for a butler.
Above everything, the Harry and Meghan interview illustrates the absurdity of Britain’s class system and the notion that the “highest family in the land” is different to any other. The House of Windsor is so contorted with dysfunction that if they lived in a housing scheme, social work would be called in. There’s the distant dad who refuses his troubled kid’s phone calls; the loveless marriages and bitter sibling rivalry; the Alf Garnett outbursts about skin colour – not to mention the periodic appearances of the disgraced uncle, the one accused of something dodgy with young girls, who everyone tries not to be photographed with for fear of being publicly associated.
Talk about façade. The frocks and the frills, the pearls and the poise, the hoity toity insistence on curtseys (how deep ma’am?) and titles, can’t hide the deeply ingrained ugliness of an institution that is becoming increasingly irrelevant to modern Britain. The notion of Commonwealth has been blown apart by the interview, despite its supposed importance to the monarch, revealed as a status symbol left-over of Rule Britannia power rather than the deep familial connection the Queen has described in countless Christmas speeches. A dark skinned baby, you say? How dark?
And in the aftermath of what has been called the hand-grenade interview, comes proof that sometimes, we get what we deserve, and that despite being some embarrassing anachronism, the royal family does actually represent a section of Britain. A YouGov poll suggests 50% of older people still think Harry and Meghan’s treatment was fair. As for the white, middle class, journalist commentators in the fourth estate, some – and not only Piers Morgan – suggested Markle be given an Oscar for her account of royal racism. Can you imagine them tolerating what they clearly think she should have? A white-skinned baby, you say? How white?
Certainly, Markle has sometimes seemed a little too self-consciously sweet to be wholesome: those coy public glances at her husband; the calculated hand-holding displays of adoration. She’s an actress for heaven’s sake. But the venom that has washed over her is shocking. Personally, I don’t doubt her account of palace life, or her mental health battles, or the lack of help. The commentators berating her for exaggeration are missing something. It was Harry who vouched for her distress and recounted the conversation about their baby’s skin colour. Harry whose tight-lipped anger, hurt and pain about that conversation spilled so nakedly across our screens. Just as well Netflix has afforded him enough money for therapy. He must need it.
I wouldn’t willingly give a penny of taxes for royalty, but I have a soft spot for Harry. He has a natural authenticity the rest of them lack. An anti-establishment instinct and the strength of character to do what he think is right rather than what he thinks is expected of him. The accusations of “disloyalty” miss the mark. He has shown the utmost loyalty to his wife and child, but he has also shown loyalty to the most important thing any of us can be loyal to: personal truth. Besides, he’s the only one I can imagine that social worker giving a clean bill of health to. Off you go, son. You’ve done really well considering where you grew up…
As for the mental health aspect of all this, the interview didn’t half blow the cover off Old Blighty stigma and lack of compassion there. “Suicidal, Meghan? Oh pull the other one. As for you, Harry, grow a pair.” It’s going to take a lot more than the, ‘Let’s Get Britain Talking’ advertising campaign to change that. The Queen’s statement says the racism and mental health issues are “concerning” but will be dealt with “privately”.
Well, of course they will. We couldn’t expect the royal Waltons to be publicly accountable, could we? Back in the broom cupboard, Andy. Lights off everyone. Nobody home.