She inhaled the crisp, fresh air as she held baby Archie close to her chest and guided the two dogs on a walk. As she tried to keep her balance while she negotiated her walking path, she could hear the footsteps of the protection officers behind her. She thought of the events of the past two weeks and felt her heart race just a little bit. She was free at last. Free of all the hounding, criticism and cruel jibes. Everything she did was wrong. Her clothes were too expensive. Her hair too messy. Her make-up too much. Her smile was forced. She was an unsuitable wife for a Prince. She was ‘exotic’. A lousy daughter who abandoned her father. An ungrateful mother subsidized by tax payers, who refused to share photographs of her son. And the comparisons! The other Duchess was ‘Classy’, ‘Elegant’, ‘Poised’, ‘Polished’. No one said white. No one said black either. Yet, it was all so clear. The memories brought tears to her eyes. As she struggled to keep Archie comfortable with one hand while she controlled the dogs with the other, she flashed a warm smile at the cameras she knew were not too far away. Yes, the photographs would be all over the world, but she was in charge now.
As he settled in to the flight from London to Vancouver, he heaved a silent sigh of relief. It was all over, at least for now. He had done the best he could under the circumstances. He had stood up for his family, and in a way, for his late mother. He had sworn to protect Meghan from the downsides of royal life. Perhaps he made a mistake by not telling her exactly what she was getting herself into. The truth is, he did not know either. One of the reasons why he loved her and asked her to marry hm was because she was not the naïve, hopelessly romantic, inexperienced eighteen-year-old his mother was when she married his father. Meghan was smart, accomplished and knowledgeable. She came from a diverse background, was well educated and had a great personality. As an actress and celebrity, she was used to dealing with publicity and the media, she knew what being under scrutiny meant. One of his former girlfriends who he was about to propose to told him point blank that she could not marry him because she did not want to live under media scrutiny for the rest of her life. He and Meghan were always on the same page. He agreed with her when she told him that she wanted them to be a different kind of royal couple. They had to do their own thing, not what the ‘old men in suits’ wanted. They were young and so they should be able to do and say things their own way, work on their own projects, develop their own areas of interest. He was not prepared for the push back from his relatives. How dare his own brother warn him about moving ‘too fast’ with Meghan? When he was moving ‘too slowly’ with Katherine, did he intervene? His brother should love him and be in his corner, no matter what. As for Grannie, well, he knew she was deeply hurt by his actions, but he couldn’t help it. He and Meghan had offered to continue working to support her, but from a safe distance from all the racist media vultures. Grannie did not see it that way. Have I done the right thing? he asked himself. He thought of all he was giving up. His country, his family, his patronages and military positions. All for an uncertain future. Well at least Meghan will be happy, that is all that matters. For now. He tried to fall asleep, but for some reason he kept seeing his brother’s face, his eyes sad and glassy with unshed tears.
The Prince of Wales walked through his garden at Highgrove, the one place in the world where he felt truly at peace. He could not believe how his week had gone. He was about to have breakfast when one of his senior aides rushed in with a sheet of paper. It contained details of a statement his second son and his wife were about to release on their Instagram page within the next ten minutes. The statement was not for him to comment on. No, it was for his information only! He felt a tightening in his chest. He knew he had made a lot of mistakes, particularly with his personal life. He had however tried to be a good father to his boys following the tragic death of their mother when they were so young. His first son William had always had a sense of duty and he understood what would be expected of him as an heir to the throne. His second son Harry was the fearless, adventurous one, yet the more sensitive of the two sons. He was so proud of them and he loved them dearly and equally, even though he had been brought up to believe that royals did not put their emotions on display.
When Harry proposed to Meghan, he was surprised at his choice but pleased that at last he had found someone to make him happy and heal the pain he knew his son still felt deep in his heart. He had tried to do all the right things for Harry and Meghan. He had welcomed Meghan into the family and he liked her a lot, she was a breath of fresh air. She was different. Yet he knew that this is what the Royal Family and British public needed at this time. With the increase in costs of living, growing unemployment rates and the back and forth over the merits and demerits of Brexit, the British tax payers were growing increasingly wary of a Royal Family who enjoyed a lifetime of luxury and privilege at their expense. To make matters worse, his obtuse brother Andrew, spent years gallivanting around the world with a known paedophile and has now been ‘sacked’ from formal royal life. There were more calls now than ever, for the abolition of a constitutional monarchy and the movement towards a Republic. In order to sound sympathetic to the growing unease, the heir to the throne had mentioned a couple of times that he planned to run a streamlined monarchy. This would mean less royals dependent on public money. He however always intended for his second son and family to be a part of these plans. Now they were leaving for North America. He wondered why young people of nowadays were so thin skinned and impatient. The British media eat up anyone who is available. Diana. Fergie. Camilla. Katherine. They all endured years of media hounding, and they were all white. He remembered the time his telephone conversation with Camilla had been hacked and the whole world heard his wish to come back as a Tampon…………. he felt his face turning red. Those were awful days. It is more to do with who we are than our skin colour. Or was it different for Meghan? He didn’t know. He scratched his head, cleared his throat, and went in search of a cup of hot tea. His eyes were stinging.
The second in line to the throne lifted up two ties and was about to ask Katherine to pick one, but decided to go with the blue. He was feeling blue. He had never been in such pain since his mother died when he was fifteen. He only had one brother. He only had one real friend – his brother. Now he was gone, not dead, but not there anymore. All because he could not be a bit more patient and give his new family time to adjust to life in a fish-bowl. Yes, it was a stifling, restrictive life, but a life of service to Queen and country. That is what they had been taught since they were little boys. His mother had rebelled against the exacting traditions and so had other royal spouses like Fergie. Yet, his mother respected the Queen and was always conscious of her duty. Even Katherine had been taunted for years and called ‘Waity Katie’, waiting for him to propose. As he fixed his tie, his brother’s face loomed before him, his eyes were glassy, with unshed tears. He felt a lump in his throat.
The Queen picked up the newspapers that had been laid besides her morning tea tray. She pulled her robe round her as she went through, her face expressionless. People were calling ‘Megxit’ the greatest crisis since her Uncle King Edward V111 abdicated the British throne in 1936 to marry Ms Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee. Her mother, Queen Mary, had told her from an early age, ‘Duty to the crown is everything. Nothing else matters’. She wondered what happened to her Grandson’s sense of duty. She had known that Meghan would struggle because she would be considered to be, well, ‘different’. She had tried her best to make her feel at ease. Perhaps it wasn’t enough. She could understand Meghan’s intransigence. She was American and the practices and customs of the Royal Family might be too strange and old-fashioned for her. What was Harry’s excuse? He was rude, spoilt, disobedient, and insensitive. How could he go on TV to tell the whole world that he was not getting on with his own brother? How could his wife say ‘no one asked how I was doing’ yet she lives in a rather expensive home provided by me? How dare he ignore my invitation to Christmas at Sandringham to talk things over? And that ridiculous statement he and his wife issued, disregarding my instructions to wait. They want to eat their cake and have it. Stay on in North America and become celebrities, pop up every now and then as royals, become ‘financially independent’ (whatever that means) yet still want a place to live here and twenty-four-hour security. Nonsense. Kids these days. Only thinking about themselves, no discipline and always complaining. Shortly after, as she got into her car, her aide said, ‘Maam’, you still have your hearing aids on’. ‘Yes, I know’ she responded. She thought to herself, ‘Let them see I am just an old woman, grandmother and great grandmother. I am a human being too. I just happen to be a Queen’. It was a good thing she had glasses on. Her eyes were glassy with unshed tears.
Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur and Writer. She is the Founder of Abovewhispers.com, an online community for women. She can be reached at BAF@abovewhispers.com