The Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II has long ceased to be about what were the 70 years of her reign and has come to mean what will become of the British monarchy. And then, like in only 5 years. At 96 years of age, with her health clearly weakened by time and Covid-19, the sovereign we are used to having as a reference of stability, is in the phase of saying goodbye. At this point, it’s a mathematical question, because 4 years from her centenary (which I’m confident she’ll even surpass) we’ll have proof that she’s a highlander*! (*pop reference for millennials: quote from the 1986 film Highlander, about immortals living among us)
The entire process of modernization of the monarchy was slow in these 70 years. When Prince Philip displeased the system by bringing in cameras to record the family’s intimacy, in the 1970s, he somehow opened the door, even if unintentionally, to the tabloids and paparazzi. But he was right: they became more popular and began to be seen as celebrities.
Then, in the following decade, with the rebellious and incomparable Princess Diana, they moved closer to their subjects, washing the dirty laundry of betrayals in public and talking about sensitive and taboo subjects, such as eating disorders and depression.
With her premature death of the princess, right at the turn of the millennium, it was Elizabeth II who resumed her role for the next 20 years. Things changed again when one of her grandchildren fell madly in love so that they “went back to the beginning”. After all, a prince giving up everything for an American divorcee suggests that the cycle has never advanced a millimeter rather than having reached “the end”, or, the “future”. For the Royal Family, the issue and the drama are exactly the same as they were 85 years ago. How can we still speak of “modernization”?
Two years ago, I interviewed a past-life expert to discuss hypothetically (of course!) what many define as “family rescue” from the Windsors. The characters are exactly the same and the common ground is in the only living witness to the entire conflict: the Queen herself. The interview was supposed to be published in CLAUDIA, but it was held back because Harry and Meghan quickly broke with tradition and decided to live in the present. In other words, Harry has put the Queen in the only role he allows her to be happy, that of grandmother. She is no longer his boss, nor is his father or brother. He still appears to be financially dependent on the system he criticizes as it gains relevance precisely because it is changing things, but this is an equation to be evaluated in the next decade. Impossible to be 100% exempt at the moment.
The rebellious couple has to be defended in some respects. Even if there are personality problems internally, they are effectively more apt in current communication than the Firm. And let’s give credit to Meghan Markle because she is a genius in communication strategy and brand positioning. Harry found the support he wanted to fulfill his dreams of independence, but the head is clearly hers. It’s not machismo and I’m not using the word “guilt”, because she shouldn’t and can’t be identified as the author of anything. The changes came from the prince’s desire, and she is a modern, independent woman who doesn’t “need” to submit to the outdated regime of the monarchy. It’s not her “fault” in any aspect.
Meghan Markle is an Angelina Jolie, for lack of a better reference. Just as the actress rewrote her perception from a “talented crazy girl” to a respected humanitarian, Meghan understood how to place herself, and how to embrace relevant causes that are connected to her trajectory. She wanted to bring that to the British Royal Family, who, by reacting negatively based on pre-millennial values, are paying (dearly) for having rejected her or not even considering giving her a voice. We will see in 2030 how the balance will tip, today is not cool for the “traditional”.
All of this, will win the world inside Saint Paul’s Cathedral, which reminds us of what we have witnessed as the greatest historical ice of a family in crisis, in 2020. When I saw Prince William and Kate Middleton so revolted to the point of having been deliberately rude to Harry and Meghan in front of the cameras, I swear I said out loud, “Oh, they’re going to regret this.” Easy conclusion. Everything we do or say hot-headed tends to elude common sense as soon as the weather cools down. The impasse remains the same and the opinions of the couples clearly follow in opposing positions, but nothing that is so public is forgotten and the image was one of the most striking of the decade. Very hard to erase it.
At the invitation of the Queen, and her very personal wishes to patch things up, everyone will be in the same place again, together, praying. If they speak, they will be judged on formality or informality. And judged as “false” or “repentant”. If they don’t talk, they will face the culture of cancellation. No matter what is done, the Platinum Jubilee is no longer about legacies or futures, it’s about the present and that means, Harry and Meghan. That they are recording everything for their special on Netflix and saving all negotiations for his book, to be released later this year. At the moment, the hashtag is correct: Meghan and Harry “won”.