• Jennifer McDowell

Fall of the House of Sussex

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, in a letter to Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, revealed on Wednesday that, as a child, she was a frequent customer at the Sizzler salad bar. Why is this relevant? Only she can say for sure—though perhaps not even she, as it turns out she doesn’t really remember much about Sizzler, other than the fact that she went to the salad bar. But she did go there. And this is very important, you see, because it reveals an all-important fact about Meghan, Duchess of Sussex: she is just like us. This revelation is an attempt to explain her support of the Paid Leave for All initiative. Because, you know, we all need a little more money so we can go to Sizzler.

Oh Meghan. We wanted so badly to love you.

In September of 1997, the world watched Britain’s princes, William and Harry, walk behind the coffin of their mother, Diana. One year younger than William, and one year older than Harry, I watched along with everyone else. I had a blonde and beautiful mother too, and even in my self-centered teenage stupor, I realized I was richer than the princes of England. I still had a mother to kiss me good night.

In that moment, the world—myself included—adopted those boys. No, we didn’t really know them, or Diana either, but when you see someone go through the crucible of tragedy, you wish to see them overcome it—and make it to the other side okay.

So the kids grew up, and we kept track of them. I texted my best friend from high-school at five in the morning on the day William and Kate tied the knot. The dress! The veil! She seemed really nice and from a loving family. They had broken up once and she hadn’t said a thing to the press—now that takes character! As they were embarking on their new life together, the onlookers were brimming with good will for the happy couple.

Then—at long last—Harry had found a sweetheart! After years of debauchery and boozing we’d begun to despair of our wayward second son. But there he was, pulling himself together, marrying a stylish, soft-spoken, American actress. Everyone celebrated...until we began to notice that the couple’s “walk” didn’t necessarily jive with their “talk.” While mildly obnoxious at first, they seemed intent on incessantly lecturing everyone else while living a lifestyle that seemed incongruent with their newfound principles.

They were climate change activists—who regularly boarded private jets. They were constantly talking about compassion, but—if embodied the principle themselves—how did they so quickly alienate both sides of their family? Overall, it was their cooler-than-cool elitist attitude that was bracing—as well as their bent to get political—something the monarchy is forbidden to do.

Meghan seemed in a rush to change something she had no intention of taking the time to get to know. One would have to be completely blinded by naïveté to believe that a college-educated woman in her thirties—after assuring her newfound family of her desire to live in England and to serve the crown alongside her husband—would be so derelict in her duty as to not even bother to look up the national anthem of Great Britain. Add to that the blindsiding of the family with their unceremonious Megxit announcement, the shameful Oprah interview cataloguing their long list of supposed injuries, and the bizarre choice to name their daughter Lilibet, the Queen’s intimate and private nickname, co-opting (and possibly monetizing) it.

In contrast, Kate and William clapped from their front porch as they cheered the first responders during the early days of the pandemic. Kate—who struggled with nerves when she first became a royal—is now happily playing a round of tennis with U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu, brazenly laying flowers maskless at a memorial for a young woman slain on the streets of London, or arriving glittering in gold for the James Bond premiere. These are all things you would suppose would come easily to the newest member of the family—someone accustomed to strutting the red carpet herself.

The royal family is, after all, only human. The transformation of kids into public figures who represent their country and the culture-at-large is amazing and bizarre—Prince Harry himself compared it, aptly, to The Truman Show. But being royal comes with responsibilities. You are representing something bigger than yourself—something even more important than the Queen. Your country. While no family or country is perfect, the intention to love and commit your fealty to either is a noble endeavor. Influential people will always be engaged in a balancing act when it comes to coupling great wealth with public works; reconciling their private ambitions with what is owed to their community—and the public recognizes it is no easy task. The way to judge the character of a person—famous or no—is not to listen to what they say, but to watch what they do. Harry and Meghan are full of fine and empty words, but it is Kate and William’s behavior that ultimately exemplifies true compassion.

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