LONDON: Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife Meghan began a new life on Sunday as somewhat ordinary people with financial worries and security concerns after being stripped of their royal titles and public funding by the queen.
The settlement announced by Buckingham Palace on Saturday saw the 93-year-old monarch assume her painfully familiar role of managing a family crisis that threatened the very foundations of one of Britain’s oldest institutions.
The “Megxit” mess began when the young couple gave up their front-line family duties and announced plans to chart a “progressive new role” in North America on January 8.
They did so without winning Queen Elizabeth II’s permission or seemingly knowing how it was all going to work out.
A mad rush of royal family meetings and screaming headlines in the tabloid papers culminated with a ruling on Saturday that The Daily Telegraph called “the hardest Megxit possible”.
The couple lost their right to be called “his and her royal highness” (HRH) — much as Harry’s late mother Princess Diana did when she divorced Prince Charles in another family drama that upset the queen in 1996.
They further agreed to repay $3.1 million of taxpayer’s money spent on renovating their Frogmore Cottage home near Windsor Castle.
“No royal has ever paid back money,” former royal press secretary Dickie Arbiter wrote in The Sun on Sunday. “It is absolutely unprecedented.”
Harry was also stripped of the military titles and patronages he was awarded after serving two tours in Afghanistan with the British Army.
But Arbiter said it was the loss of the HRH title that really made palace history.
“Even when Edward VIII abdicated [in 1936] he dropped from being His Majesty The King to HRH the Duke of Windsor,” he said. Arbiter noted that Princess Diana was not born a royal and had her HRH “obtained through marriage”.
Few know what Meghan — an American former TV actress with a huge social media following and A-list celebrity friends such as Oprah Winfrey and the Obamas — thinks of the British brouhaha about ancient acronyms.
The 38-year-old frankly admitted on UK television in October that she “really tried to adopt this British sensibility of a stiff upper lip. I tried, I really tried.”
But she admitted sadly: “That’s not the point of life. You’ve got to thrive.”
Harry has also talked about still being haunted by his mother’s death in a 1997 car crash involving a chasing pack of paparazzi. He is expected to join Meghan and their son Archie on a resort island near the south-western Canadian city of Vancouver this coming week.
Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2020