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Modern Fairytale Courageous Action Of Harry & Meghan

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15th-Jan-2020       
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After what even the Queen has admitted was a bumpy year in 2019, the House of Windsor has begun the new one by driving into a huge pothole. The background to the decision of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to "step back" from their roles as senior members of the royal family is confused. Their wish for a "progressive new role" and to become financially independent tries to have it both ways - with continuing financial support from the family and the retention of their titles - and makes no sense. People will wish them well. But the damage to the institution cannot be denied.
On the personal level, only the hardest of hearts will not hope the Sussexes can make it work. All will wish that they will be happier in these new arrangements than they have been recently. In family crises such as these it is often hard, and sometimes impossible, to know where the balance of responsibilities lies, though this will not stop some frenzied attempts to play the blame game. Doubtless there is plenty of blame to go round.
Yet no news organisation should dismiss one of the most clearly stated reasons for this dramatic decision - the fears of Prince Harry and Meghan that the British press has them under siege to a degree that threatens to do to them what it did to Diana, Princess of Wales. The collective turn against the Sussexes by much of the media since they made their announcement illustrates precisely where part of the problem lies. It does not help that Britain has just elected a government led by a journalist who made stories up and whose manifesto gives the press a free pass to continue the abuses and techniques that led to the Leveson inquiry.
The bottom line for the British monarchy as a public institution is that this is a major blow. The blow is stronger for coming so soon after Prince Andrew's disgrace in the Jeffrey Epstein affair drove him to the sidelines too. It leaves the institution more open to emotional criticism than at any time since the Prince of Wales's divorce and the death of Diana, more than 20 years ago. The monarchy itself may not be at risk this week, as it was in 1936 and some argued it was in 1997. But the fragility of the royal house is now more palpable than ever, as the ageing of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh signals the imminence of a period of change at the top.
Tolstoy observed that all unhappy families are unhappy in different ways. A breach of some kind could have happened in any family, royal or not. But the breach between the Sussexes and the House of Windsor resonates with implications that transcend those who are directly involved. It is an uncomfortable sign that the Windsors have not, as has been claimed, recovered their post-Diana poise. In other circumstances, the monarchy would risk being characterised as not fit for purpose.
Part of this centres on the uniquely hapless role of "the spare". The only role of the younger sibling of the heir to the throne is to remain alive in case the call comes - as it did to Prince Albert, later George VI, in 1936. Prince Harry, like Prince Andrew and Princess Margaret before him, has struggled with this fate. If he was not to become another ageing royal sybarite, the issue needed to be forced.
This week Harry and Meghan have done just that. His solution is not fully worked out yet. But the instinct was right and the action was courageous.
All this has arisen not because of personalities but because the Windsors have not thought properly about downsizing. It is absurd that, beyond the sovereign and the heir, young royals are not told to find paid jobs, or trained to do so. In other monarchies, most of which remain popular, such career paths are entirely normal. Only in Britain is such infantile mystique attached to the crown. By their awkward rebellion against our antiquated form of monarchy, the Sussexes have done themselves - and maybe the monarchy itself - a favour.
(Editorial of The Guardian)

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