Never mind Brexit – now it’s “Megxit” everyone is shouting about in the United Kingdom: Who is to “blame” for the shocker decision of Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan of Sussex to step back from their roles as senior members of the royal family?
In Britain, the answer, from major swaths of the media, from some commentators on social media and from scores of royal “sources” whispering in ears, is pretty clear:
Blame Meghan, now cast as the driving force behind the couple’s move to create new royal roles for themselves within the family and to split their time between the U.K. and North America.
“MEGXIT,” blared the front page of the largest-selling tabloid, The Sun, in huge type. “Civil war as Harry & Meg quit the Royals,” asserts a smaller headline, and “Queen sad..Charles and Wills furious.”
Is it really true that they’ve “quit” the royal family? No, but…well, never mind, it makes for a better headline.
“Is it Meghan’s fault? It’s hard to escape the conclusion that having grown up in a country that considers the Kennedys to be aristocracy, Meghan didn’t understand that being a Windsor is not like being a celebrity,” commented Virginia Blackburn in the tabloid Express.
Meanwhile, Friday’s Daily Mail promised new revelations about the “countdown to chaos” behind palace doors, and about Meghan “fleeing” to Canada to rejoin baby Archie, leaving Harry behind to deal with “crisis talks” with the queen.
“Breaking: Meghan flies back to Canada (where the couple had left Archie) as Harry deals with their ‘abdication’ crisis in the UK.,” tweeted Mail royal reporter Rebecca English.
Months ago, in the midst of Britain’s endlessly agonizing divorce from the European Union, self-declared foes of Meghan came up with “Megxit,” encapsulating in one hashtag the skill many Brits command over their own language: Clever, sharp and more than just a little mean.
Now unpleasant comparisons are being made: Introducing the former Meghan Markle as the new …Yoko Ono! Just as Ono was supposed to have broken up the Beatles, the original Fab Four (not really), now Meghan is breaking up the royal family (not really).
“Meghan is clearly going to be made the modern day Yoko Ono/Wallace(sic) Simpson within the Royal Family & the press… #GetOut #Megexit,” tweeted Claudia Wright.
Others more in tune with British history are comparing Meghan to that other American divorcee who married a royal – long-loathed Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor – 83 years after Queen Elizabeth’s uncle King Edward VIII abdicated to marry “the woman I love.”
“This can only be described as an abdication,” declared respected writer and biographer A.N. Wilson in The Daily Mail.
“You have a very popular and senior member of the royal family who falls for an American divorcee and his world falls apart. Sound familiar? Talk about history repeating itself,” Blackburn added in The Express.
Even some American papers featured critical headlines about Harry and Meghan: “Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are hypocrites — abdicate or stay!,” shouted the New York Post.
Not every media outfit is piling on. Marina Hyde in The Guardian, the left-leaning newspaper that is skeptical of the monarchy, couldn’t be bothered with the fuss, in her column under the headline: “Meghan and Harry’s story is quite the drama, but it’s no abdication crisis.”
“Many enfeebled minds are being lost today about Meghan and Harry, when perhaps the comings and goings of someone a distant sixth in line to the throne ought not really to cause them to entirely wet their pants,” she wrote.
Here’s another comparison: A YouGov poll found that 50% of Americans polled support the Sussex decision to “step back” from their roles (compared to 45% of British) and 7% of Americans (compared to 26% of Brits) were opposed. But almost as many Americans (43%) said they didn’t know anything about the furor.
Said furor appears not to have ruffled the Sussex Instagram account, which continues its quotidian posts as if nothing is amiss. On Friday, the account featured a picture of Meghan, smiling, with a woman at the Hubb Community Kitchen in London (one of her charity projects). The post said the couple visited the kitchen, apparently without the media, after their Tuesday visit to Canada House, judging from what she is wearing in the picture.
“The Duke and Duchess were so happy to reconnect with the women and hear about the projects they continue to develop to help those in their community and beyond,” read the caption.
So what gives with the snark against the Sussexes on social media and in some real media?
The halcyon days after Harry and Meghan’s May 2018 wedding, when the two were said to be the future faces of a modern monarchy, have disappeared in a miasma of criticism and mockery over such issues as their insistence on privacy, their opinions on climate change while using private planes, their fury at racist comments posted on royal social media accounts, and their on-going battles with the media over their coverage.
The two have filed lawsuits against major tabloids for alleged copyright infringement and hacking, a move unlikely to earn them plaudits from the press.
Some of the animus has fallen on Meghan, the biracial, divorced older-than-Harry former actress who is believed by many to have “changed” the previously happy-go-lucky Harry.
“Spoiled brats,” huffed ex-tabloid editor-turned-TV morning show host Piers Morgan, leader of the anti-Meghan chorus ever since he says she ghosted him on social media after meeting Harry in 2016.
“The Queen must FIRE Their Royal Hustlers: Deluded Meghan and Harry should be stripped of their titles before this pair of grasping, selfish, scheming Kardashian-wannabes bring down the Monarchy,” Morgan tweeted about his latest reproving column.
Here we should point out some of the Sussex comparisons are not entirely apt: Harry isn’t king, is never going to be king (he’s sixth in line currently), and isn’t “quitting” the royal family, so the abdication allusion is a stretch. Meghan and Wallis Simpson were born in America and were divorced, but that is the extent of the similarities.
And Ono, while she was widely blamed for breaking up the Beatles, historians and the principals themselves argue the band was already breaking up when she met John Lennon.
Why then so much Sturm und Drang over Harry and Meghan? Why are their announcements taking over front pages even while the world worries about a potential war in Iran, for instance, or Britain wrings hands about continuing uncertainty over Brexit?
“With everything going on in the world it’s amazing to me how many people give a (damn) about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry ‘stepping down from royal duties.’ Who (cares)? Really?” tweeted conservative Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren, an employee of the media corporation which owns The Sun and The Times of London, which do care, very much. (The Times accused Harry of “petulance and hot-headedness.”)
Why? Because gossip is always a juicy topic and royal gossip even more so. Because many people in Britain believe, rightly or wrong, that Harry and Meghan have delivered a blow to his grandmother, the 93-year-old Queen Elizabeth II, who is beloved but above all revered. The Brits don’t like it if they think their head of state has been dissed.
It didn’t help that the Sussexes announced their plans with little advance notice of his grandmother and his father, Prince Charles, judging from the careful statement issued in response by Buckingham Palace. There were reports Harry issued his announcement Wednesday in defiance of the queen’s orders.
Also, some Brits fear Meghan is taking Harry, the much-loved younger son of much-lamented Princess Diana, far away from them. Will they now move to Canada and take their 8-month-old son, cute-as-a-button Archie, with them? Thus, the alarm klaxons going off.
Others see in Harry’s actions a resemblance to Diana, who once declared proudly that she didn’t operate by a royal rule book. “Because I lead from the heart not the head,” she said in a 1995 BBC interview.
And, to be sure, not everyone is disapproving of Harry and Meghan on social media. Plenty of Twitter users declared they should be left alone, allowed to live the life they want, not the life handed to them, even if on a golden platter.
“Seeing the press reaction to Megan and Harry’s announcement, just confirms why they’re right to step away. Good luck to them. #Megxit,” tweeted British actor Toby Stephens.
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/celebrities/2020/01/10/meghan-blamed-prince-harry-move-megxit/4419133002/