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The Megxit

The Sussexes are going to be semi-Americans now (DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Gotta love the British tabloids. They’re calling today’s shock announcement from Prince Harry and Megan Markle the “Megxit.” This is not only funny, it also shows that they — and most likely the British public — are blaming the American for ruining their Harry. A.N. Wilson puts the knife in with laser-like precision:

This can only be described as an abdication. Meghan and Harry have in effect withdrawn from their royal duties and will spend a large part of their future lives in North America.

It is hard not to feel history repeating itself. Even the wedding car that drove the future Duchess of Sussex to be married to Prince Harry in St George’s Chapel, Windsor, was the very car that drove Wallis Simpson to attend the funeral of her husband, the former Edward VIII.

In 1936, the immensely popular, lovable new king had renounced the throne because he wanted to marry Mrs Simpson, an American divorcee.

That event is seared into the consciousness of the Royal Family: it has obsessed them ever since.

There you have it. Meghan is Wallis.2. More Wilson:

The truth is that this charming, intelligent, beautiful woman hadn’t a clue what the monarchy really is, or what role minor members of the Royal Family have to play in public life.

For his part, Harry perhaps didn’t fully understand his own role as a younger son. Both seemed oblivious to the fact that the British monarchy is a delicate constitutional miracle, not a vehicle for its members to press home their views on the subjects that interest them, however noble.

A minor royal such as Harry or Meghan (Harry is now sixth in line to the throne) essentially exists to be on standby for public engagements that senior royals are too busy to fulfil. They must also keep their views private.

Yet Meghan, as befitting her role as a socially conscious and ambitious career woman, wanted her views on everything from climate change to women’s rights to be centre stage.

Wilson goes on to say that this is probably for the best. The “Royal Family” is too unwieldy an institution to survive in contemporary times. It needs to be smaller and sleeker, he says. This seems right to me.

Still, as an American who is fairly traditionalist about these things, I find her behavior to be appalling, and am sorry he got mixed up with a Hollywood celebrity. Anybody who has given a moment’s thought to the British royal family — or anyone who has watched even one season of The Crown — knows that it is a gilded prison. Nobody chooses to be born into such a family, which belongs to the nation, not to themselves. You can’t help feeling sorry for them. I hold the unpopular opinion that Charles, for all his faults, is a really interesting man, and I hope his reign is a long one (see the 2012 essay I wrote about him).  If the only thing you know about Charles is what the media have written about him, then you are badly misled about the man.

For example, he is the royal patron of the Temenos Academy, an organization that promotes study in perennialist philosophy. I am not a perennialist, but I find people who are to be pretty interesting and sympathetic. Take a look at the Temenos Academy’s basic principles. You may or may not like perennialism, but I am very glad that the future King is favorably disposed towards this traditionalist way of approaching the world. As I wrote in that 2012 piece:

To most Americans, the Prince of Wales is best known as a pop-culture icon and tabloid figure, a royal celebrity who married (and divorced) Diana Spencer, fathered Prince William, and gallivanted scandalously with Camilla Parker-Bowles, now his wife. What is less known, at least in this country, is that Prince Charles, 63, has spent much of his life, and indeed his fortune, supporting, sometimes provocatively, traditionalist ideals and causes.

The heir to one of the world’s oldest monarchies, a traditionalist? You don’t say. But Charles’s traditionalism is far from the stuffy, bland, institutional conservatism typical of a man of his rank. Charles, in fact, is a philosophical traditionalist, which is a rather more radical position to hold.

He is an anti-modernist to the marrow, which doesn’t always put him onside with the Conservative Party. Charles’s support for organic agriculture and other green causes, his sympathetic view of Islam, and his disdain for liberal economic thinking have earned him skepticism from some on the British right. (“Is Prince Charles ill-advised, or merely idiotic?” the Tory libertarian writer James Delingpole once asked in print.) And some Tories fear that the prince’s unusually forceful advocacy endangers the most traditional British institution of all: the monarchy itself.

Others, though, see in Charles a visionary of the cultural right, one whose worldview is far broader, historically and otherwise, than those of his contemporaries on either side of the political spectrum. In this reading, Charles’s thinking is not determined by post-Enlightenment categories but rather draws on older ways of seeing and understanding that conservatives ought to recover. “All in all, the criticisms of Prince Charles from self-styled ‘Tories’ show just how little they understand about the philosophy they claim to represent,” says the conservative philosopher Roger Scruton.

Scruton’s observation highlights a fault line bisecting latter-day Anglo-American conservatism: the philosophical split between traditionalists and libertarians. In this way, what you think of the Prince of Wales reveals whether you think conservatism, to paraphrase the historian George H. Nash, is essentially about the rights of individuals to be what they want to be or the duties of individuals to be what they ought to be.

Prince Harry has made his choice on the wrong side of that divide, in my view. Too bad. The thing is, the Sussexes will now be trading on the cultural capital they have as members of the Royal Family, even though they prefer not to assume the duties of same. Not my business as an American, but somehow, that rankles.

UPDATE: Oh man, these two are trashy. Look:

The couple have applied to have their royal trademark stamped on scores of items and services, according to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

Its website shows that “Sussex Royal” has applied to have its trade mark on printed matter, including teaching material, books, magazines, brochures, calendars, posters, postcards and artists’ material.

In another category, it’ll be applied to clothing and footwear, such as “jackets, anoraks, trousers, hooded tops, bandanas, socks, gloves and sportswear.”

Campaigning, promotional and “public awareness campaigns” are also covered in their expansion bid, for example “developing and coordinating volunteer projects for charitable purposes.”

That is unbelievably sleazy. Harry and his greedy wife are exploiting his name, his heritage, and his family, while at the same time holding them in contempt. She has Americanized him.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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