Debate: ‘Megxit’ – a mistake of majestic proportions

Image Description: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Sandringham

A British Prince abandons the Royal Family for a life outside of the media spotlight with a divorced American socialite. One would be forgiven for thinking that we were actually in December 1936 instead of January 2020. Yet almost a century after the Abdication Crisis, the Royal family continues to make the headlines. What has by now already been dubbed ‘Megxit’,  remains radically controversial, but more importantly irresponsible. This could have been a greatly successful story. The account of a strong, and empowered actress, coming from the other side of the Atlantic, marrying into the Royal Family from a background as far from conventionality as one could get. This could have really been the successful story of a twenty first century Royal Family fit for a diverse and globalised Britain. Instead it is the opposite; a failure to grasp an opportunity of massive proportions. 

Senior members of the royal family have more responsibilities than merely enjoying the grandeur, and lavishness of royalty. Above any of the benefits for a member of the Windsor family befalls the burden of duty and responsibility. That, and that alone, should take precedence. For those who claim that the royals may choose, the reality is that they unfortunately cannot. Their duties as royal come before everything else. These two people are some of the most privileged humans on earth, and whilst they can make personal choices, their duty to the nation must come before their family life and dynamics. Instead the Duke and Duchess have decided to put forward a halfway approach; becoming part-time celebrities, and stepping back from regal duties, whilst splitting their lives between Britain and America. A constitutional monarchy needs to maintain an image, and a semblance of a family working for the nation, in order to avoid putting at risk the very foundations of the monarchical system. 

A constitutional monarchy needs to maintain an image, and a semblance of a family working for the nation, in order to avoid putting at risk the very foundations of the monarchical system. 

Of course, we should be perfectly sympathetic to the couple for the unfair treatment, and ridiculous attacks from tabloids that Meghan has been the victim of, regarding issues ranging from her fashion style to the environmental impact of her eating habits. Nonetheless to claim that they have been persecuted would surely be an exaggeration. Their relatively free from disturbance six-weeks Canadian holiday, free from the ‘persecution’ of the media serves as a testament to this. Importantly, both Camilla Parker-Bowles, and Sarah Ferguson, as well as Lady Diana, were all targets of perhaps worse media campaigns. The events regarding Diana certainly traumatised a young Harry, and perhaps indicate further reasons to why he should depart from royal duties. What baffles is how the Duke and Duchess of Sussex can possibly believe that by becoming a top tier celebrity outside of Buckingham Palace they could escape media ‘persecution’. However if he really desired to retire from the spotlight, Harry should return his newly renovated Windsor cottage which cost the taxpayer 2.4 million pounds. I am glad that Harry and Meghan will no longer be HRHs yet the problem still stands, as the question ahead of us is about the future of the monarchy and its use. 

The problems with ‘Megxit’, and my opposition to it, also derive from a financial issue. In 2018 Harry had a funded income of over five-million pounds, five percent of which came directly from the Sovereign Grant. The remaining ninety-five percent came from Prince Charles’ income from the Duchy of Cornwall, created to “to fund the public, private, charitable activities”, and of course the figures do not include additional expenses such as security. Surely the Sussexes should not continue to use such resources if they are to cease performing their “public, private, and charitable activities”. They would, therefore, need to marketise the so-called “Sussex Brand”. However, the title of a royal is by definition his occupation, and duty, and should not be able to monetise it. 

If Beatrice and Eugenie of York can survive without public funds, with the exception of their wedding, then so should Harry and Meghan. The Sussexes should simply become Harry and Meghan Windsor. The very fact they declared their intentions without warning the Queen was another misstep. The Queen’s statement revealed that Her Majesty was furious about the fact that she had not been consulted of their decision. A decision which means they will leave a family whose mission is to serve and be dutiful. What the Sussexes have actually achieved is to create an unsolvable issue, as one starts to ask what is the point of royals if they no longer even contemplate executing their regal obligations? This is why ‘Megxit’ remains a profound mistake – one which I fear may have opened a pandora’s box.

Image Credit: Mark Jones, Wikimedia Commons