Castles, coops and celebrity confessionals

On the Edge

ROYAL TALES Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during their tell-all interview with Oprah.

On The Edge
Áine Ryan

Did anybody notice if Harry and Meghan’s hens have names? I was thinking of christening them Victoria and Wallis but then that could lead to another Oprah interview and some unsavoury tabloid headlines.  
And, how cute is it to call their coop Archie’s Chick Inn? Just like these rescued chicks, perhaps it is time for the royal family to build a refuge  for those in-laws who struggle with all their medieval pretensions and protocols.
Clearly, the glitzy world of American celebrity is a far cry – indeed, a parallel universe – to the pomp and privilege of the royal court. Hard to believe that the Firm didn’t prep Meghan for that first deep curtsy to the Queen. If the world of Windsor is so controlled and defined by protocols you would think there would have been some form of introductory course.
Should there not be Royal Charters decreeing prenups for all those jumped-up commoners who assume that once they are offered a castle and a crown that life is going to be a walk in a park? A walk in the park where a flotilla of butlers wait on the terrace with silver salvers filled with sherries and cucumber sandwiches with no crusts.
I mean even this ageing commoner columnist was force-fed etiquette classes in a very Catholic Co Monaghan boarding school back when we still ate our dinner in the middle of the day. So, is it really credible that Meghan knew nothing about The Firm, and its eccentric ways, before she hitched up with Harry? Surely, during those months of courtship she learned something about his late mother’s struggles?   
After all, there is a palpable sense of déjà vu here as we recall Diana’s loneliness, her tears, her bulimia, her sense of being smothered by this huge institution. Wasn’t her life in those early years of her marriage so well depicted  in the last series of The Crown?
However, it is important to remember that, unlike Diana, Meghan wasn’t born with a silver spoon in her mouth, had worked since a very early age, and was a successful actor in her mid-30s when she suddenly had to hand in her passport, car keys and drivers licence. If she wanted to go out to lunch or meet friends she had to ask permission. And be told it wasn’t really appropriate. The tabloids might not approve!
It isn’t surprising then that her mental health declined to a critical state, is it?
Culture clash
OF course, on a more macro  level, this whole sorry mess is about a culture clash. It is about American Celebrity Confessional culture versus Stiff-Upper-Lip Aristocratic Values. Mz Markle has no problem talking about her feelings. Oh dear, how crass!     
After Meghan’s naivety about the constraints of royal living become exposed and the tabloid press turns on her, she felt unsupported and lonely. The institution that should have all the resources in the world to protect her, appears to have utterly failed her.
Is it no wonder that this independent woman quickly felt like a trapped bird in a gilded cage? It is clear from the Oprah interview too that Harry’s flight from this life of privilege has clarified for him how stifling and suffocating was his world.  
What exactly did he say about his brother, Prince William, who he ‘loves to bits’ but with whom there is an atmosphere of ‘space’ since himself and Meghan challenged the Firm and ultimately escaped? Or, indeed, his father and heir to the throne, Prince Charles – who for a time stopped taking his calls. Harry said they were ‘trapped’.
No matter what spin was put on that interview during the last week, Harry and Meghan have challenged the monarchy in a constructive way.  It is time to for the tabloids to modify their manic headlines and leave these escapees to rescue more hens, if they feel like it.