A 99-year-old prince is in hospital. His 94-year-old wife is displaying an almost childish delight as she continues to dip her toe in our Covid imposed virtual world and unveils a statue from the comfort of her drawing room.
The pandemic is just the latest extraordinary experience shared by a monarch and her consort. Some have been particularly painful and lingering. They’re a couple who bear the scars inflicted when relationships disintegrate. However, the lessons of Charles and Diana haven’t yet been learnt by their family. The War of the Waleses 2.0 is following a familiar, unpleasant path.
William and Harry – and those close to them – are in the trenches, slugging it out for control of the narrative as to why the brother who’s not destined to be king chose self-imposed exile in California, over active Windsor duty. His explanation, with his wife Meghan by his side, will be shared with us when their Oprah interview is broadcast this weekend. We already know the TV programme will present a couple who believe they had to escape, to survive.
This portrayal has clearly incensed those who view it as a one-sided depiction of the truth. Their vantage point is that they have worked for the royal household. Their stall is set out by a respected writer in a respected paper, the Times. The unnamed individuals allege the duchess reduced staff to tears and the palace didn’t act on these claims of bullying.
These are claims Meghan has denied, pointing out that she has been the target of bullying herself. And she and Harry have gone further, much further. In a detailed statement they’ve called the allegations a ‘calculated smear campaign’ and a ‘defamatory portrayal’. Their lawyers have told the newspaper it is ‘being used by Buckingham Palace to peddle a wholly false narrative’, before the Oprah interview.
At the heart of this latest skirmish is a battle over whether or not it is accurate to portray Meghan as a victim of a cruel, ancient institution. Her detractors, with inside knowledge, have made their views clear.
The fact they were emboldened to do so shows just how bad the dynamic is between William and Harry. When things are going well, the royals run a tight ship, are tight lipped and leaks aren’t tolerated. Now, when we read in a paper that William is ‘really sad and genuinely shocked’ over an aspect of Megxit, we can be pretty confident those were his emotions at the time.
Unleashed aides, sources and friends are a reminder the Megxit aftermath is as toxic as what went before. Two of its protagonists are due to abandon their trenches and meet in the coming months to unveil a statue of their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. Short of an accelerated turnaround – or many hours spent by both with acting coaches – William and Harry’s deeply fractured relationship will then be on display for all to see.