Ever since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stepped down as senior members of the British royal family there have been people trolling for them to be stripped of their titles…even though Prince Andrew is, like, RIGHT THERE. Not surprisingly, now that their Netflix documentary has been released, with Harry calling out his family’s relationship with the tabloid media and accusing them of leaking and briefing against him and his wife, they’re shouting about the titles once again…even though Prince Andrew is STILL RIGHT THERE.
It's interesting, though, this fixation on their titles. Because for those who believe that Harry and Meghan should have their titles taken away, I’m not convinced it’s about the integrity of the monarchy and who gets to swan around with these fancy designations than it is about punishment. The people who are angry at the Sussexes want a penalty to be applied, they want to see humiliation, they want to hurt.
And that’s the dilemma for King Charles. Because should he actually decide to un-title his youngest child and his partner, it would be seen 100% as castigation – a beating on paper, a public lashing administered by the sovereign. Sure, there are some who might be able to defend that, but overall…is that a good look for a king in these times? In one way, it would only support the position of those who perceive that Harry and Meghan were mistreated. Tyler Perry in the docuseries went so far as to say that he believes that the royal institution was abusive to the Sussexes and deployed an abuser’s tactics (the gaslighting and media manipulation, cutting them off financially, taking away their security) to try and get them to submit to the Crown’s authority.
Stripping them of their titles, then, which is literally un-naming them, would be an act of retaliation. Some might argue that Charles would only be retaliating in defence of Harry’s attacks on the institution but, like, it’s THE INSTITUTION. The f-cking British Monarchy. To retaliate on the Sussexes and justify it would be an admission that whatever shots they fired at the Monarchy blew open a hole so big that the proportionate response in the battle would be to pull out the missiles. With the coronation five months away, does the king want to be actively engaging in warfare? If he waits until after the coronation, and as tensions ease with the passage of time, does he risk looking even more petty?
Speaking of the coronation, though… one of the biggest questions over the next few months will be whether or not Harry and Meghan will be there. Never mind the titles for now, what about the big event where Charles finally gets to wear the crown and hold the scepter? Will his youngest child not be invited to witness the moment? Because there’s more to consider.
While everyone can take a breath for a couple of weeks over the holidays, pretty much as soon as we get back from the break, Harry’s book, Spare, will be released. And we’ll be doing this all over again. Especially if there’s a press tour and if they schedule him for interviews. If I’m the publisher, after signing him to this big multimillion dollar book deal, I would expect promotion to drive sales. They’ll get some free promotion, for sure, from the tabloids the same way the UK tabloids basically gave Netflix free marketing for Harry & Meghan in their obsessive coverage, but book promotion isn’t quite the same – there are no trailers, no visuals to work with, this is all words on a page, this requires more effort. Harry and Meghan didn’t have to go out on a media blitz to promote the documentary because the footage itself did all the work for them. With Spare, though, Harry might have to be more of a live presence. If that’s the case, it’ll be very interesting to see what the approach is, on top of what he’s shared in the book. And how the royals respond to that.
More on Harry & Meghan on Monday, once everyone’s had a chance to get through all the episodes.
Attached - Will, Kate, Prince George, and Princess Charlotte attending Together at Christmas Carol Service yesterday at Westminster Abbey.