Yesterday, January 8, 2020, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle of House Sussex (for now, anyway), announced that they will be stepping back as “senior” members of the British royal family and declared their intention to be “financially independent”. My friend Kayla joked that Meghan basically told Harry to get a job.
This happened a day after Harry and Meghan visited Canada House and right after The Sun reported that they were considering moving to Canada which I didn’t believe and clearly I was wrong and now we’re here…so how did this go down? Here’s what’s interesting – at least to me:
It was Dan Wootton who got that story for The Sun and you’ll remember, back in October, I posted about a gossip item that’s been floating around the UK for almost a year now:
It was curious seeing Dan Wootton give Meghan Markle both barrels this week. You'd think he'd be a little more friendly, given that he's such good pals with Wills and Kate's press secretary...
That, to me, sounds like Prince William and Kate’s communications secretary, Christian Jones. It’s likely a very discreet friendship but it’s as good of a source as anyone. And if that is indeed the source, it’s a major breach, considering that The Sun is one of the newspapers that Harry and Meghan are suing. Dan Wootton’s story was that Harry and Meghan were having preliminary talks about their future but all of this looks more than preliminary, what with the website all set up and all that information locked in (we’ll get to the website in a minute) which explains why it’s being widely reported that the Queen and Buckingham Palace were blindsided by the announcement yesterday. They had almost no notice that it was happening and so their statement, in response to the Sussex’s release, was pretty pointed:
“Discussions with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage. We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through.”
According to someone I spoke to this morning, the Queen had about a 15 minute heads-up that the Sussex announcement was about to drop. And prior to that, while there had indeed been a few conversations between the Queen and Prince Harry about his and Meghan’s hopes to figure out a new role, nothing firm had been agreed upon yet, as clarified in Buckingham Palace’s statement about “complicated issues that will take time to work through”.
So… does that mean the Sussexes were off-side? That’s one way of looking at it – royals don’t take action without approval from the Queen, and catching her off-guard and putting her in an awkward position of being in the dark about something is met with great disapproval. (That didn’t seem to bother Prince Andrew when he did his messy interview with BBC Newsnight so, you know, if you get wind of him criticising Harry and Meghan on this, make sure you remember that.) The other way of looking at it is that the Sussexes may have had intended to make the announcement later, not too much later but later nonetheless, like not on the eve of Kate Middleton’s birthday (which is today), but their hand was forced when Dan Wootton went ahead with his story in The Sun. The Sussexes have managed for weeks to keep all this on lock, even enjoying most of their holiday on the West Coast of Canada before it leaked and, suddenly, they get home and visit Canada House and Dan Wootton has an exclusive for The Sun and just happens to be friends with Will and Kate’s press secretary…
Coincidence or conspiracy?
If that’s how it went down, if Harry and Meghan saw that story in The Sun and realised that it was only a matter of time before they could contain it and that despite their efforts to keep their plans close to the chest, people were still selling them out, they may have felt like they needed to get ahead of it so they could control it, since it’s not like the UK media have been generous in their coverage.
People are trying to cover their asses today, pointing fingers, distancing themselves from what precipitated the Sussexes rolling out their strategy earlier than anticipated. No one wants to own it, obviously, but the dots are there and they’re lining themselves up.
Can it be said that Harry and Meghan are impetuous? Sure, of course. Princess Diana was impetuous and that’s one of the reasons why her relationship with the palace was so strained. At the same time, good decisions don’t often come from impetuous energy. And we’ll have to see if, strategically, the timing of the Sussex bomb drop doesn’t work out for them as well as they wanted it to. But on the other side of the equation, the royal court is full of competing and divided loyalties and it’s clearly f-cking up what is supposed to be a well-oiled machine. If it did actually happen the way I’m speculating, and again, it’s hard not to see those dots lining up, there is a scenario where Kate could have had all the attention on her for her birthday …if one of her staff members hadn’t made an amateur play.
More on the Sussexit coming soon.