Monday 23 September 2019

Patricia Casey: 'Meghan and Harry fly into accusations of elitist hypocrisy'

Happy family: Harry and Meghan with their baby son Archie shortly after his birth. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Happy family: Harry and Meghan with their baby son Archie shortly after his birth. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Patricia Casey

HAVING spent the past four weeks in Edinburgh and London, I have been immersed on site, so to speak, in all things British.

As an antidote to the divisiveness of Brexit I've been to British comedy, listened to British music, visited galleries and wonderful markets dealing in British trinkets. But most interesting of all is the continuing focus on the royal family.

Not Prince Philip and his cringe-worthy faux pas, or Andrew's alleged connections to unsavoury characters, but Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle.

His grandmother Queen Elizabeth is a beacon of discretion and nobody is privy to her opinions on world affairs. She remains above all politics as her duty to the country. She is a queen for the people of all political persuasions.

The seeming emptiness of her persona, apart from her known affection for corgies and horses, may strike many of us as boring disinterest or even vacuity.

Yet this is not the case. Her role as monarch has necessitated this remove, for the sake of her subjects.

Harry, apparently her favourite grandchild, is not cast in her mould. Remember, he was the man who once wore a Nazi uniform to a London party. More recently he was caught nude playing strip billiards in Las Vegas with a bunch of friends. Goodness knows how he explained this to his upright granny.

It's difficult to know the real Harry. He seemed pretty likeable, if wild and superficial, before his marriage to Meghan Markle. He was also deeply affected by the early death of his mother, a terrible tragedy for any child to endure.

He and his brother William were very close as children, a bond that was very obvious until earlier this year when Harry left the Royal Foundation, a charity run by Prince William and Kate Middleton, and set up his own with Meghan called the Sussex Royal Foundation.

Since meeting Meghan, Harry has become a changed man, and I'm not sure I like the new Harry. In fact, he's pretty tiresome.

Meghan Markle, an actress, was not known well on this side of the Atlantic until her relationship with Harry. It is Meghan's celebrity status that has driven the frenzy around the couple and made them international heroes in the eyes of some.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as they are now known, exist on the largesse of the public. And the public has no discretion over which royals their hard-earned monies are used for. It all goes into a single pot. The public has expectations of its royals that deserve to be respected.

One of these is that they, in turn, respect the public that funds their office and lifestyle. For example, the British public paid £2.5m (€2.8m) to lavishly refurbish Harry and Meghan's home, Frogmore Cottage.

Yet the couple have shown very little but contempt for that same nation by refusing to name the godparents of their son Archie. Indeed, the timing of the announcement of his birth, in the early hours of the morning, seemed more focused on hitting the American news bulletins than the British outlets.

Wimbledon is a huge British sports event which royals traditionally attend. Yet Meghan refused to allow photographs because she claimed she was there in a private capacity.

The royals - all of them - are public servants, bankrolled by the people of Britain, who must now be furious at these teenage-type antics.

Like all Hollywood stars, Meghan is a feminist. Harry now also identifies as a feminist. It is unclear how this Pauline conversion came about but it certainly wasn't visible when he was playing strip billiards.

This man, sixth in line to the throne, has thrown his lot in with his new best friends, the Hollywood celebs. And of course like them, he has dabbled in yoga and vegetarianism.

But the most ostentatious of all his transformations was his conversion to climate change activism. He and his wife recently discussed their family planning details of only wanting two children so as to help save the planet.

No doubt Harry and Meghan hadn't considered the eugenic ramifications of this should it be widely applied, while at the same time cocking a snoop at those who have larger families, including his brother William.

It is clear Meghan's influence is a factor in Harry adopting these fashionable causes so beloved of the Hollywood elite, with their unceasing admonishment of ordinary mortals to cut their carbon footprint.

Yet the lack of insight of Harry, Meghan and their Hollywood chums is bewildering. They see no contradiction between acting like divinities preaching climate change salvation to the listening world, while they arrived in Sicily to a climate change conference in more than 114 private jets.

During the month of August, Harry and Meghan themselves flew by private jet on four different occasions. For her baby shower, Meghan flew by private jet to New York at a cost of $200,000 (€181,000).

There has been significant criticism of Meghan and Harry for their sense of entitlement and hypocrisy and it has been met with derision from Meghan's friends like Elton John and Ellen DeGeneres.

The fact she has so many friends in Hollywood, including George Clooney, Serena Williams and Oprah Winfrey, may not sit well with middle England.

'Guardian' readers, millennials and Hollywood may love her but she may not garner similar affection from a public that values dignity and devotion to duty.

As for Harry, let's hope he grows to appreciate the devotion to the country that his granny has exhibited.

The Biblical quantum of their egos and sense of entitlement means it would probably be futile to remind Harry and Meghan they should first see the beam in their own eyes before criticising the mote in another's.

No doubt their cronies would remind us such views are a relic from the past, and they are the progressives. God help us!

Irish Independent

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