Britain’s Toxic Monarchy

By William J. Furney

The United Kingdom has become so undesirable that even the royals are bailing. Forget Brexit — all eyes are now firmly on Megxit. 

The four-nation country is convulsed by even more lingering tectonic movements, its sense of nationalism, place on the world stage and individual identity fast-evaporating. Britain’s accidental queen — who since ascending to the throne at the delicate age of 25, in 1952, vowed to serve her country and wider Commonwealth of nations formerly ruled by the former global power for life — had only just lamented a “quite bumpy” year, in her televised Christmas message, when, mere days later, two of the media stars of the centuries-old monarch abdicated. 

The last time a member of the so-called royal family quit, it was a king — Edward VIII, in 1937 — and then, as now, it involved an American divorcée. 

Wallis and Edward exiled themselves to nearby France, where they lived a loving, if socially outcast and lonely, life; Meghan and Harry are decamping to Canada, where the 38-year-old TV actress lived for a time, while filming, and where they, with their baby, Archie, think they will be much better received. 

Harry and Meghan, who married less than two years ago, do not like the UK — neither the rabid press that has taken an intense dislike to the pair nor the opinions of the British public as often espoused in the comments sections of the British tabloids. The papers and the public decry what they see as a self-obsessed American destroying a prince charming who was once happy-go-lucky and now is firmly down in the dumps, and seemingly all-too-keen to sever ties not only with his brother and sole sibling, William, but also his father, queen and entire homeland. 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s decision to “step back” from royal duties and divide their time between England and Canada came after a six-week break (from what? Neither have actual jobs) in Canada and was not made in consultation with the 93-year-old head of the royal family or Harry’s father, Charles, the future king. It was announced on Instagram, along with the fact that they had set up their own website, Sussex Royal (and they’ve trademarked the name for potential branding across a wide range of possible products, from media to clothing to stationery and lots more).

“After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution. We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen,” the couple said in their social media post. The queen was said to be “hurt” that she was ignored and sidestepped, and the wider royal family, who also learned about the development from TV, “disappointed”. 

The brazen pair also announced, on their new site, that they will be taking “a revised media approach” that will get under way this spring. It means the traditional media access to their public outings will be blocked and they will instead do their own media — via social and their site — and will only work with “young, up-and-coming journalists”. This is sure to irate the British red-tops even further, and especially as some are being sued by Harry and Meghan for what they claim is fake news about them.

No one is surprised Princes Harry and William have been enduring a tumultuous time since the death of their mother, Diana, in a car crash in Paris in 1997. In recent years they have spoken of their mental health battles amid a family famously regarded as putting the stiff upper lip ahead of anything else. Do not let the Firm down, is the unspoken maxim that’s mostly adhered to — although the motto has been rocked in recent times by Prince Andrew’s relationship with convicted peadophile Jeffrey Epstein, who apparently killed himself in a grimy New York police cell last year. 

“The monarchy is in trouble. The Queen’s life and reign will come to an end in the next few years, quite possibly during the life of the current government. Accusations against Prince Andrew won’t go away and the prospect of King Charles is not a happy one,” said the anti-monarchy campaign group Republic, in a tweet this week. 

Yet support for the monarchy remains overwhelmingly robust — at the moment — with one poll a while back showing that seven in 10 people in the UK supporting the royal family, even in independence-minded Scotland. It’s likely to dramatically change once unpopular Charles becomes king and the current younger generations age and maintain their generally unfavorable view of a most peculiar institution, and one that cost the taxpayer an eye-watering £67 million in the last year.

Now there is talk of a referendum on the monarchy, to at least see if it can be scaled down from what’s often perceived to be it’s current “bloated” size. Brexit turns to Megxit and then to Monxit. 

The House of Windsor has never really had a right royal time of it, despite the enormous privilege and wealth, and after Elizabeth II goes, the British monarchy seems headed the way of the dodo. As extinctions go, that would not be a bad thing.

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