There’s a far bigger royal villain than either Harry or Meghan. Picture: Chris Jackson/Getty Images
There’s a far bigger royal villain than either Harry or Meghan. Picture: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Vicious backlash lets off real royal villain


There's a lot of hyperbolic language swirling around Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's decision to step down from their role as "senior" members of the royal family.

Commentators have breathlessly compared it to the abdication crisis in 1936, when King Edward gave up the throne to be with an American divorcee, Wallis Simpson.

And the British media is positively overflowing with melodramatic quotes from Palace sources, who are talking about the Queen being stabbed in the back as though she's been cheated on in a daytime soap opera.

Given that reaction, you could be forgiven for thinking this fiasco poses some sort of existential threat to the British monarchy, when ultimately it's little more than fodder for a particularly juicy season or two of The Crown.

Let's step back for a moment and put it in perspective.

The upshot is really quite simple. A couple of moderately senior royals, who were never going to rise to the throne anyway, are now going to do far fewer public events on behalf of the monarchy.

That's it.

Maybe Meghan and Harry will try to profit off their connection to the family. Maybe they will choose to focus on charity work. Or perhaps they will become fairly typical, dull celebrities, delivering self-serving speeches to no one in particular and occasionally popping up on TV to talk about their latest pet cause.

It doesn't really matter. Whichever path they choose, the British monarchy will survive and continue to go about its business much as it has done for the last several decades - providing stability for the British political system, and plenty of piping hot gossip for the public.

“Bye, peasants.” Picture: Chris Jackson/Getty Images
“Bye, peasants.” Picture: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

In other words, there is no reason to lose our damn minds. And yet, that is what we've spent the last several days doing.

"After surviving a number of royal crises including the death of Princess Diana in 1997, Her Majesty faces another that could cause potentially irreparable damage to the monarchy," wrote British broadcaster Piers Morgan hours after the couple's announcement, in typically strident fashion.

Irreparable damage to the monarchy! Honestly.

The manner in which Harry and Meghan dropped their bombshell announcement, blindsiding the Queen and the rest of the Palace, ensures there will be no lasting damage to the monarchy. The British public is firmly on its side.

Sure, the Americans might support Meghan, but their opinion on royal matters hasn't been particularly relevant since the late 1700s.

"Make no mistake, Harry and Meghan going rogue like this is an earthquake that will shake the very foundations of the royal family to the core, especially coming so soon after Prince Andrew was fired over his friendship with billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein," Morgan continued.

I'm so glad he at least mentioned Andrew, because nobody else is doing it. And it's really, really worth remembering that while we all obsess over this spicy family drama and read the calls for Harry and Meghan to be stripped of their royal titles, Andrew still has his.

The convulsion of fury towards the Sussexes this week - and Meghan in particular - has blown way past the level of disgust that forced Andrew to step back from his public duties late last year.

To jog your memory, for many years Andrew was pals with the billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who specialised in trafficking underage girls to be sexually abused by both himself and, allegedly, other members of society's rich and powerful elite.

The Queen's eldest son remained friends with Epstein even after his conviction a decade ago, for which he served time in jail.

And Andrew has been accused of having sex with at least one of Epstein's underage girls - an allegation he denied vociferously and very, very incompetently during his trainwreck of an interview with the BBC in November.

Who is a greater threat to the reputation of the monarchy?

Meghan, who has, at the absolute worst, manipulated the Queen's grandson into isolating himself from his family?

Or Andrew, who's accused of serious sexual misconduct, and at best was too stupid to notice his buddy was running a notorious underage sex ring under his nose?

I would hope the answer is obvious.

The real royal villain. Picture: Duncan McGlynn/Getty Images
The real royal villain. Picture: Duncan McGlynn/Getty Images

Now guess who the public - and, it seems, the Queen herself - is angrier with.

"The Queen will be feeling very let down and very angry, probably more angry than she felt after Andrew's car crash interview," former Palace spokesman Dickie Arbiter, who served her for years and most definitely knows her better than me, told British TV this week.

Compare the passive aggressive (and entirely justified) statement released by Buckingham Palace this week to its bland pronouncements on Andrew.

Compare the flurry of the Palace insiders giving cranky quotes to journalists in recent days to the relative silence with which they met Andrew's interview.

Compare our own response to that particular horror show - which I'd describe as a mix of incredulity and mockery - to the white hot, unambiguous rage Meghan is copping.

It's all the wrong way round. The world is treating Harry and Meghan's personal life like some sort of serious scandal, and treating Andrew's very real scandal as little more than entertainment.

I'm not suggesting Harry and Meghan should be exempt from criticism. I myself just had a go at them over their frankly ridiculous definition of "financial independence" from the royal family.

They are public figures, and that naturally means they deserve public scrutiny.

But reading and hearing some of the invective this week, it's clear we have gone far beyond scrutiny here.

Only one member of the royal family deserves that kind of treatment.