Harry & Meghan Moving Forward
I want to start off by reiterating that I am happy that Harry & Meghan are doing whatever it is that they need to do in order to have a happy and fulfilled life. I sincerely wish them nothing but good things and I look forward to seeing what they are going to do in the coming months and years. I have and will continue to cover any charity work that they do whether in the United Kingdom or the United States. I will not tolerate hate of any kind directed to any of the Women of Windsor, which includes Meghan.
Over the past several months, so much has been made of what they are going to do next with fans, magazines and the media guessing what their work will look like outside of the institution of the monarchy. Since all the attention was focused on the Sussex's next moves, it seems like we didn't adequately cover how their role inside the institution would change with this new working model. The Queen made it abundantly clear at the beginning of all of this that Harry, Meghan and Archie remain an important part of the family. However, there is a very big difference between the firm and the family.
It may seem harsh or unkind at times but it is important to establish up front that the firm is always going to be working to protect the Monarchy. If something or someone poses a threat to the monarchy, the working members of the family will take whatever course of action they believe will best protect the longevity of the institution for generations to come. This can sometimes seem harsh or unsympathetic but it is simply a reality for the the firm.
At the beginning of the year, Harry & Meghan decided to leave the institution, roughly equivalent to quitting a job. After you quit working for a company in a certain role, you can no longer expect benefits or favors from that business. I do fully understand that it seems harsh, but it really comes down to the fact that Harry & Meghan chose to leave in order to find a new role. In their case, the best analogy is the simplest one; if you worked for your family business but decided you wanted to pursue a different career path or explore other opportunities, you would quit the job and forfeit the benefits of that job but you would obviously still be part of the family.
This is precisely what Harry & Meghan have done. They have quit their job but by no means have they left their family. As the Queen has said, they will always be an important part of the family.
The difficulty of this lies in the fact that the public is not privy to their British Royals life as a family. The public is only given access to their public duties and roles. Certainly, we see them at family events: weddings, christenings, funerals and the annual Christmas walk but we only occasionally get glimpses into their lives as a private family. The vast majority of appearances they make every year are ones they do in their role as a member of the firm and their job as a working member of the Royal Family.
Most fans seemed to grasp that Harry & Meghan would not be doing royal engagements anymore, as they no longer represent the monarchy, but I think there was a notion that they would continue to show up to engagements such as Trooping the Colour, Garden Parties and Remembrance Day celebrations. Or at the very least, their absence would be noted or called out in some way.
Since coronavirus is preventing them from travelling and is responsible for cancelling many of these annual events, we still aren't entirely sure exactly how much Harry & Meghan are going to show up for in the future. However, I think the drama that the tabloids stirred up with Harry's request for a wreath to be laid on his behalf this Remembrance Day give us a little bit more insight into how the institution see Harry & Meghans role moving forward.
To start, the Institution is always going to look to precedent and follow that. As Gerts Royals explained here, there is precedent about wreaths when a working member of the royal family is unable to attend the Remembrance Sunday service. I think as more situations like this arise (i.e. Harry & Meghan are unable to attend events or no longer have a purpose in attending events since they are private citizens) they will first look to precedent. If there is a situation that is comparable, they will do whatever was done previously.
The firm is founded on tradition, and part of the reason they remain popular is because they are an embodiment of tradition and duty. As situations arise that do not have precedent (and there will be plenty of those in the next two to three years) they will refer to the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William for how they would like to handle it. The Queen is the CEO for all intents and purposes in the firm while Charles and Williams are the executives with the highest stake in the company. The three of them will likely decide to handle those situations in whatever way they believe will best protect the monarchy.
No matter how they decide to handle Harry & Meghans positions in the future, there will be criticism one way or another. But, it's important to remember; these decisions aren't personal. The decisions the family makes in regards to their public life are always going to center around the same central question: What is the best course of action or precedent to set to ensure the longevity of the Monarchy? It might seem impersonal and their rigidness could provoke criticism but, like always, they will simply be putting the institution first.
Harry & Meghan will likely be asking themselves a very similar question as they begin to work more and partner with more companies and organizations: What can we be doing now to make sure we can provide the best future of Archie and our family?
One of the things that is the most challenging to wrap your head around in the Royal Family is that while they are a family, they are also a business. They will always do whatever it is they think will protect that business. That isn't to say they are always going to get it right, because they won't, but it's important to remember that protecting the monarchy will always be their first priority.
I think it's more than likely that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will continue to attend events like Trooping the Colour, Royal Ascot and the Christmas Day Walk since most of the Queens family (working and non-working royals) are typically in attendance. Since they still have a role in the Queen's Commonwealth Trust, I imagine that they will continue to attend the Commonwealth Day Service. However, it's entirely possible they won't be attending Remembrance Day events, State Visits, Diplomatic receptions, military parades, investitures or other events that are typically attended only by working members of the firm.
Harry & Meghan made a choice to leave the business of the monarchy and I very sincerely wish them all the best, I'm incredibly excited to see what they will do once things open up more post-covid in the next year or two. It seems to me they are very much enjoying California and they seem to enjoy being able to set their own agenda and have more control over their work than they would have in their family. I want them to succeed in whatever ventures they pursue and more importantly, I want them to be happy together and as a family. What I really do not want is a fight breaking out between two sides every time the Royal Family or Harry & Meghan establish another boundary between their new working models.
We need to anticipate that there will be times that Harry & Meghan are unable to attend events, receive honors or partake in engagements simply because they no longer have the titles of "working royals". We also need to understand that as Harry & Meghan establish themselves in their new roles there will be events or appearances that we wouldn't typically expect to see Royals getting involved in. We shouldn't criticise either side for this and we shouldn't allow the media to criticise it either. They are all trying their best to establish boundaries that will help them establish long-term futures.
All of this is okay and we need to understand and anticipate it is going to continue to happen quite a lot over the next two to three years. As fans, we have to understand that the Palace and Harry & Meghan won't always make the decisions we might be hoping for. They are all going to do whatever it is they need to do to ensure the very best future not only for themselves but for future generations. The Queen, Prince Charles, Princes William and Prince Harry have all spoken, at one time or another, about wanting to give their children the best life they possibly can. While they may be part of the British Royal Family, they are no different from any other parent in that sense.
Harry & Meghan need to do what is best for them and their future. The Firm needs to do what is best for them and the future of the monarchy. Neither side is going to get it right 100% of the time but we need to let it play out without vilifying one side or another. And more importantly, we cannot allow the media to vilify one side or another. At the end of the day they might not work together anymore but they are still a family who is doing their best in incredibly unique circumstances. xx