Of all the alehouses, chintz parlors, back rooms of Chelsea pubs, Norfolk kitchens and private clubs in Britain; Who would have thought that of all the possible backdrops for a couple of deeply illuminating royal moments, the 22nd Commonwealth Games in Birmingham would turn out like this?
The first case occurred near the toilet on the train. Really.
Matthew Syed is a journalist and Commonwealth Games gold medal winner in table tennis no less. This week he and his son Ted were on their way to the Games to catch the action and he went to the pages once tell a truly extraordinary story about the trip.
“Five minutes before entering [the Birmingham station], I go to the bathroom (we’re going first class) and Ted is waiting outside. While I’m minding my own business, I can hear him talking to a woman in the lobby.
“They keep chatting while I use the soap, then tap, then dry. Judging by the laughter, they are having fun … By the time I finish, we are only a couple of minutes from the station.
“Come on, Ted,” I say, “we have to get out!”
“Oh, and thanks for keeping him company,” I say, turning to the woman waiting for me. [for] her turn when I stopped on my way. My eyebrows are furrowed, my face works. ‘Katia?’ I blurted out. There is no security in the lobby; no armed guards. And here is the Duchess of Cambridge chatting merrily with my son.
We then move on to our second moment, which sees Kate’s husband Prince William, Duke of Cambridge star in a chlorine-soaked aquatic center.
On Tuesday, the Duke, Duchess and their daughter Princess Charlotte attended a bath. Sitting in the middle of the crowd, he happily took a selfie with a group of Games volunteers seated in front of him.
Now both of these cases could be registered as “Oh, aren’t they beautiful?” examples of two people who may have been destined for coronations and crowns, but who did not let their high status turn their heads.
But all this happens after the publication of Tom Bauer’s book. Revenge: Meghan, Harry and the War Between the Windsors464-page portrait of Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
What about William and Kate’s stories this week? Those two simple, brief interactions with the audience? Well, they highlight one of his key arguments, which is that Meghan’s expectations of royal life were a far cry from the often unglamorous reality. Think more polite chatter near a public restroom than private jets and Paul Roger.
At the heart of Bauer’s book is the claim that as Meghan, dressed in a multi-hundred thousand dollar Givenchy haute couture outfit, walked down the aisle of Windsor’s 15th-century St. George’s Chapel, she had little understanding or interest in learning about the fabled institution. in which she entered.
For so many long years, she couldn’t get off the B list, and now she is finally about to become one of the most famous women in the world. The case Bauer cites is that the California native’s assumptions about what would follow were markedly different from what was actually going to happen next.
According to Bauer, even before the first notes of Handel Eternal Source of Divine Lightwho played as she walked down the aisle, everything went like clockwork.
Before the engagement, when the couple dated, Bauer says that after “Harry’s demand for a special bodyguard for Meghan was approved”, he once met the Duke “on the runway at Heathrow, escorted by police.”
Megan took off from the airport towards Kensington. It really was the super celebrity lifestyle that she always aspired to.”
Then, ahead of her big day, Meghan was already “confusing fame with royalty,” he writes. However, “the royal world is expected to be a world of altruism, history, tradition, and discreet patronage without personal gain.”
Meghan’s misconception, from Bauer’s point of view, is that she fundamentally confused the royal family’s worldwide fame with Hollywood fame, not realizing that even though she became a Duchess and was catapulted into the highest stratosphere of fame, she was therefore , was not automatically entitled to treatment worthy of Beyoncé.
Take the question of luxury gifts. Bauer writes: “Palace gossip has reported that the advertising departments of some well-known designer labels—Chanel, Dior, Armani, Givenchy, and others—were surprised by calls from Meghan’s employee asking Meghan to be happy if the House was to bequeath a handbag to Kensington Palace in the near future. , shoes or accessory. The journalists were told that these items would be seen as gifts of goodwill. The women were puzzled by what they called “the Duchess’ discount.”
“In the past, their offers of gifts to Kate were rejected on the principle that the royal family does not accept freebies. Meghan’s staff didn’t seem to care about this rule.”
The veteran biographer writes that it wasn’t until 2019 that the Duchess “began to realize that the British monarchy, costing society a mere £85 million (A$148 million) a year, was neither rich in money nor invincible luxury Rolls-Royce. car. The power and influence she assumed she gained through her marriage to Harry was an illusion.”
During the summer of that year, one particular incident involving Meghan made international headlines. Visiting Wimbledon with a couple of friends, their group sat in the middle of a sea of empty match seats, unlike when Kate regularly visited and took her seat in the stands, sitting among other tennis fans.
At one stage of the match, when a man seated in the section in front of Meghan stood up to take a selfie with the players, one of the Duchess’s security officers “warned him to take pictures next to her.” to daily mail.
Former BBC sportscaster Sally Jones was also near the court.
“I felt like I was tapped on the shoulder and asked not to take pictures of the Duchess, but until then I had no idea she was there. I was completely stunned,” Jones said. Mail.
That Meghan was offended (or someone on her team was offended) at anyone who tried to take a picture of her, despite the fact that she preferred to sit in a public place where there were live TV cameras, was too similar to the behavior of a diva. .
Compare this scene to this week’s events in Birmingham: in each case, we have royalty at sporting events, but showing two very different approaches to royalty.
After all, William and Kate seem to understand at the core that royalty is not the same as celebrity; it’s not about special treatment, comfy chairs, or four-figure accessories that get into your wardrobe for free. It is about the tedious devotion to duty, no matter how repetitive or boring it may be. (How many times in your life do you think the Queen asked, “What do you do?”? I think we can safely say that this number must be in the hundreds of thousands.)
The meat and potatoes of royal life aren’t flying to New York City for a first-class $100,000-a-night baby shower in a hotel room, but sitting in a hospital wing and charming pensioners.
Indeed, HRH are part civil servants, albeit ones who don’t have to fiddle with their own brand tea bags in the office kitchen, and part politicians stuck in a lifelong scam, forever trying to win over the public with one handshake and a smile at a time.
None of this is a secret; none of this is insider information. So why wasn’t Meghan better prepared?
One of the points the Duchess of Sussex made during an infamous Oprah Winfrey interview last year was that she “didn’t do any research on what it would mean” to marry a member of the royal family.
“I didn’t feel the need to, because everything I needed to know, he shared with me. Everything we thought I needed to know, he told me,” Meghan said.
It turned out to be a mistake, kids, didn’t it?
That a smart, educated woman would give up her career, adopt her homeland, one of her dogs, and all her friends, to move across the world and dedicate her life to an ancient institution she knew nothing about, defies all logic.
If she’d done even a cursory Google search, she might have stumbled upon a great article written by Patrick Jephson, Diana, longtime private secretary to the Princess of Wales, back in 2006 titled “What Kate Should Know,” in which he imagined, what advice his old boss would give a young woman.
Jepshon claims that the princess would have convinced Kate that “modesty should be your watchword” and “be careful with conspicuous consumption”.
He writes: “Remember that living in a very large house surrounded by servants and riding in a golden carriage are all the excesses that your future subjects will willingly tolerate in their royal family. Don’t lose sight of the priceless symbolic value of Tupperware boxes and try to build on the famous enthusiasm for turning off unnecessary electric lights.”
A piece (You can read it here) is basically a very sensible warning: don’t let the gold-plated trappings of royalty go to your head. Understand the job for what it really is and get on with it.
If only Megan had read Jephson’s article; if only she entered royal life with a clearer understanding of what she signed up for. That doesn’t mean she should have swallowed a bolus bolus as soon as she got there, or didn’t try to inject something fresh into the creaky monarchy—but forewarned is forearmed.
If Meghan had Googled, she might also have stumbled upon the famous essay written by journalist and satirist Malcolm Muggeridge in 1955, at the height of Princess Margaret’s fling with group captain Peter Townsend. In the article, Muggeridge argued that “applying movie star techniques” to the royal family would eventually have “disastrous consequences”.
He also said that the monarchy was “an institution given respect and trappings of power without reality”.
And if the former Suits Star would have read a little more, she would have known that the reaction to Muggeridge’s essay was so swift and furious that it forced him to leave the Garrick Club. (Horror!)
Accepting a monarchy is not for the faint of heart, but joining it? It’s for people who enjoy riding trains, making small talk with the public, and pretending to enjoy watching competitive matches.
Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with over 15 years of experience working with a range of leading Australian media outlets.