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Saturday, July 13, 2024

The shocking thing Meghan Markle just did that deserves praise

Late last year, I forecast on these pages that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were well on the way to becoming the most hated-ever royal couple, inheriting with gusto that role from the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. So, I could but chortle this week when I saw Twitter hashtag “#WalmartWallace” trending in reference to Markle who has opted to forgo the biggest day of the life of her father-in-law, the king’s May 6 coronation. While it turns out her absence is the best possible outcome, it is inspired by the wrong reasons.   

With all the strife brought on by Harry and Meghan, it is stupefying but praiseworthy that King Charles III, still hopeful of family harmony, extended an invitation to the couple. But Markle declining is probably best for all concerned. Her absence avoids the “Harry and Meghan Show” from distracting from the significance and true focus of the solemn occasion.  

So too, from Meghan’s perspective, it spares her the public jeering that likely would meet any appearance in the UK, the humiliation of less-than-top billing, and any deserved, frosty encounters with other family members.    

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Even so, Markle’s refusal to attend, like much of her behavior of recent years, is an affront to a king who so went out of his way to welcome her warmly into his family. The unhappy couple has spewed out a litany of self-serving complaints since. Recall how readily Charles stepped in when Markle’s own father couldn’t be at their wedding: “I’ll do whatever Meghan needs and I’m here to support you.” He did and has; and, miraculously, in the face of attack after stinging attack, Charles’ love remains seemingly unshakable. 

The Prince with red hair and his wife with black hair and an oversized white hat carry signs that say "Stop looking at us" and "We want our privacy!!!" during an episode of "South Park"

The “South Park” satire of the California couple. The Prince and his wife hold signs that ask the public to respect their privacy. (Comedy Central)

The public at large and the family showed genuine delight when Harry found the bride who would, it seemed, make him happy. Subsequent public disenchantment has had nothing to do with race or parentage. That emerged in tandem with realization that, with an obvious failure to grasp the selfless nature of royal service, the duchess was ill-suited from the start to an active royal role.  

Her approach can be explained by the Hollywood celeb culture that she is so steeped in. But Harry, raised to take on a life of royal service, sadly, has opted to sink to Meghan’s level of narcissism, where they, rather than nation and service, must be the center of attention.   

When they agreed to step back from royal service, the ruthless pair was not content simply to walk away. They exploited for financial and reputational gain the very family and institution that provided the couple’s only hook to continued public interest.  

To do this for maximum profit required a coordinated media-fueled hatchet job, complete with unsubstantiated allegations of racism, from which subsequently Harry, at least, has tried to walk back. Naturally with their browbeating, whining and family betrayals, public opinion of the Sussexes has plummeted. 

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The spectacle they inflicted on the queen in her last years was probably what turned off the UK public most. “Spare,” Harry’s moan-marathon autobiography not only confirmed the judgment there but brought realization to the wider world stage.  

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The consequence: they’ve rightly been lampooned and pilloried by stand-up comedians and, most piercingly, the “South Park” satire. Like all satire, it is effective because it is so obviously on target. End result: they now are coming to be regarded as critically in their current home as in their former. 

In light of hemorrhaging public support for the California couple, it is hardly surprising Markle has opted to stay home rather than support her adopted family, country and king. The frigid reception that would be likely not just from the crowd, but the family members in attendance, makes this very wise. And this works out well all around. 

Harry attending solo will make less of a target. It is right that he should attend his father’s biggest day. His absence would signal something far more profound — and final — regarding his ties to his family and nation. Still, the situation is bound to have an air of awkwardness because no one in the family can ever again trust him not to repeat or misrepresent even the most private familial interactions. 

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When they agreed to step back from royal service, the ruthless pair was not content simply to walk away. They exploited for financial and reputational gain the very family and institution that provided the couple’s only hook to continued public interest.  

Viewed from across the sea from our non-royal republic, many may scratch their heads about all the fuss. But a coronation is not a mere family get together. And while cameras across the globe will be capturing it for posterity, it should certainly not be perceived as a drama-filled Hollywood soap opera.  

Rather it is our staunchest ally and mother country’s most singular, constitutional and religious state occasion. Leading British historian, Dr. David Starkey has called the coronation, “the fundamental contract between the King and his people.” An event of such significance must be handled with the discretion it deserves. 

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